Pondering coastal walking possibilities28th April 2010
With a bank holiday weekend ahead of us, thoughts turn to making use of the extra time. In truth, the pondering started last week and my thinking ended up in Northumberland even if I didn’t. It’s been a while since my sole hike by the county’s coastline near the start of 2006 and, given that I had a largely cloudy day for my exertions, it would be worth going back to savour the sights. Then, I journeyed from Alnmouth to Craster and back again, so there are sights such as Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh castles awaiting my attention along with Lindisfarne. Public transport connections make a day trip tricky, but it might be high time that I spent a bit longer over there.
While on the subject of a few days around Northumberland, my brain wandered inland to Wooler where I began to consider using St. Cuthbert’s Way for heading west to Kirk Yetholm. Transport (on Sundays and bank holidays, that is; it’s reasonable on other days) and other practicalities set me to considering the following of the Borders Abbeys Way for getting to Kelso for onward travel. Another walking option in the area would be going east along St. Cuthbert’s Way towards the coast where travel connections are better of a Sunday.
After that mental meander inland, it is time to return to the intended subject for this posting. That takes me to Arran, another part of the world where I haven’t been for a few years since I walked to the top of Goatfell on Easter Sunday in 2006. Then, I got mixed weather with hail near the summit, a patch of snow on the path on the way down and a deluge that beset me while making my way back to my lodgings for the night. The next day, I took a bus ride around the island with occasional showers never far away. There is a coastal path to complement the bumpy stuff in the north of the island and that is what brings the island into this discussion. A return is long-overdue and following part of the island’s coastline would make a good excuse to spend more time there again.
Turning south brings me to the Isle of Man and its coastal path. To date, the island has received just a single solitary flying visit, and I am tempted by the prospect of spending a bit more time seeing more of the place. It has its hills too, but you sometimes can get to know what lies inland while peering in from the coast. So far, it is largely uncharted terrain for me and that might be adding a certain frisson of novelty to the idea too.
Staying on a southward trajectory takes me to another part of the world where I haven’t been for next to four years: Pembrokeshire. A lengthened weekend down there had me walking from Newgale to St. David’s on Saturday, around Marloes on Sunday and around Newport while on the way home on Monday. While there, I got lucky with the weather and the sunshine did plenty of justice to the indented coastline as it wowed me while I took in my ever-changing surroundings. Be warned that there are plenty of ups and downs with gentleness not being a strong point of the gradients. By the end of my walk on Saturday, it was time for a well-earned rest after the way that my leg muscles had been exercised along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. It may feel that I have taken in a lot, I only have nibbled at the national trail, so there’s much more to savour yet.
There is a reason why I am sticking with a few examples of coastal trails for now: there are loads and enacted legislation is to provide more access, so there must be a certain something to exploring coastline for more than me. Navigation generally is easy, and the scenery can be an intoxicating mix too. Some walk may walk right around Britain or another island, but I’ll content myself with pleasing sections like those mentioned above. Others such as the Fife Coastal Path, the Gower and the South West Coast Path are there should I ever decide on exploring very new horizons but pacing myself feels more sensible. Plenty of tempting options exist that are nearer to me and keeping closer to home mightn’t be such a bad plan.
In its own way, the forthcoming bank holiday weekend set all of this off. It looks like bringing a mixture of weather to us but don’t they all? Even so, I have concocted some sort of scheme to break me away from the day-to-day routine. As is my habit, I’ll leave it to work out how it will before saying more on here.
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