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April 22, 2017

A wild and windy day on the Northumberland Coast

A wild and windy day on the Northumberland Coast

Yet another wild and windy Footsteps walk; Craster, Dunstanburgh and Low Newton along the Northumberland Coast

Every Wednesday, I lead a Footsteps guided walk for guests staying at the Holiday Property Bond centre in Lucker and today we following one of the nation's favourite walks, Craster to Low Newton and back.

Eight people joined the walk in Craster on a bright and sunny March morning. Sheltered as we were in the car park, we all knew from the weather forecast that it was going to be windy, but the sun was shining and our walking adventure lay ahead of us. We followed a path beside a rocky outcrop of the Whin Sill, the cliffs covered in gorse, which is just beginning to flower, bright yellow with the scent of coconut, a sure sign that Spring is now fast approaching.

We emerge from behind the Whin Sill and there before us, perched high beside the sea is Dunstanburgh Castle, a magnificent medieval fortification, built in the early 14th Century, ruined and deserted by the mid-15th Century. It dominates the landscape and we would always be able to look towards it, or back to it throughout the walk, all broken toothed and craggy, it's a fabulous castle and much loved by those who visit Northumberland.  We stayed close to the coast and away from the more direct path; I was keen to see and share a view of the fulmars that nest high on the cliffs below the castle. There were at least 6-pairs of these handsome birds, huddled together busy reforming their pair-bonds after a winter spent at sea and preparing for the breeding season ahead.

We walked up the slope and around the castle, hoping to see some razorbills and guillemots on the high cliffs on the northern side of the castle, but there were none to be seen, which surprised me, there had been thousands further north at St. Abbs earlier in the week. The wind had really picked up now, so we pushed on following the coast through the dunes beside Embleton Bay. A keen eye picked out oystercatcher, turnstone, redshank and purple sandpiper picking their way between the shoreline boulders. We went over the highest dunes, just because the views are amazing; we held on to our hats and to each other and descended the dunes and headed for The Ship Inn and lunch at Low Newton.

After lunch, we began the return journey to Craster, the wind now thankfully blowing slightly from behind and over our right shoulders, so the going was a little easier. The path took us back past Dunstanburgh Castle and along a level coast path into the village. We could see smoke billowing from Robson's, home of the Craster kipper, so we took the opportunity and popped into the shop to buy this fine local delicacy and then completed our walk in the local café with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. And that was it, we had enjoyed the sunshine, the magnificent views and battled the wind; so windswept and exhilarated we said our farewells and headed for home after another fine Footsteps walk in Northumberland.

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