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  • Julie Muller

Blyth to Seaton Sluice


A dog sits on sand dunes - the beach and sea is behind him. He is very windswept . the sun is shining and there is blue sky and fluffy cumulus clouds
A windswept Bruno sits on Blyth sand dunes

Our second foray started at the Mermaid Car Park in Blyth – it was a bitterly cold day, and Julie’s plan was to walk down to Seaton Sluice and back again.  The seaward edge of the car park was marked with a line of very brightly coloured beach huts. I doubt that anyone would be using them today!

However, despite the very cold weather, the car park was already busy with humans and all of them were warmly jacketed, scarfed and hatted and, many of them had their canine companions with them.

 

We trotted across the car park towards the beach where we could already hear the waves crashing on to the shore.

 

We couldn’t get down on to the sand straight away and so we walked along a short section of promenade and on to the coastal path, which was both wide and firm, and accessible to every human, whatever their age, fitness, or ability. The path ran parallel with quite a busy road which meant that on one side of us, we could hear the roar of the traffic and on the other, the rush of the waves crashing on to the shore. Large mounds of undulating sand dune hid the beach from view, and I was absolutely desperate to find my way down on to the beach below.

There were several small paths snaking through the dunes and we decided that this would be much more fun than following the coastal path.  There had been snow overnight and the soft yellow sand was covered with a layer of snow and frost. I could not resist rolling over and over in it. There were so many interesting smells too – somehow cold weather makes everything smell so much stronger.

The dunes formed a barrier between the coastal path and the beach but there were places where it was possible to run down on to it. But this didn’t seem to be part of Julie’s plan – I was so confused. Whenever I found a chance to get onto the sand, Julie called me back.

 



A dog running along a narrow path between tall stands of Marram grass in the sand dunes. Blue sky, grass being blown by the wind
She running through the sand dunes

So, we carried on trundling through the dunes. High above us, a steady procession of large aeroplanes turned landwards as they made their final approach to nearby Newcastle airport. I wonder where they had come from.

 

Although it was very cold, the sun was trying to come out.

 

Our path wound up and down the dunes through the tall unkempt Marram grass. Sometimes it led us through prickly thickets of gorse and wild rose which draped long thin spikey branches across it, and we hopped, skipped, and jumped over them. It was great fun, but I still longed for the soft sand on the beach.

 

We could see Seaton Sluice just ahead of us – and finally, Julie allowed us to run on to the lovely sand. It felt so good. Ahead of us, towards Seaton Sluice, our route was cut off by a small creek, so we turned back towards Blyth.

There were several other dogs playing with their humans, running across the sand, and splashing in the water.

 

We could see Blyth Harbour in the distance but there was a vast expanse of sand to race across and enjoy first.  There were just a few small birds dabbling in the sand at the water’s edge – we kept well clear of them.

Blyth Harbour looked very busy. On the horizon we could see many warehouses and sheds which were interspersed with an assortment of cranes reaching high into the sky.  As we played on the beach, a large container ship ploughed its way past a cluster of tall white wind turbines, towards the entrance of Blyth harbour.

With so much human activity, it is easy to forget just how much wildlife lives alongside us.

The lighthouse at the end of Blyth pier has guided vessels safely into the harbour since 1884, but it is known also to be a safe refuge for some non-human long-haul visitors. These include the Purple Sandpiper which travels all the way from the Arctic Circle to spend its winters here in Northumberland. These birds feed on small crustaceans, molluscs, insects, and algae which they find on the rocks. The food here must be good because purple sandpipers often return to the same place year after year.

 



two dogs standing on a vast firm sandy beach with a scattering of small  pebbles at their feet. Sand dunes behind them covered in snow
She and Bruno - finally allowed on the beach

We were getting closer to Blyth and there were more humans about. The tide was on its way out, so we were able to walk further down the beach. We ran as close to the water’s edge as we could, and sometimes tongues of the tide would creep up behind us, completely erasing our foot and paw fall  - it was great  fun!

 

Soon our way was once again blocked – this time by a long wooden breakwater stretching way out into the sea. I think that Julie would have liked to walk right around it but the tide was still far too high, so we reluctantly climbed up back onto the dunes.

 

We were very tired, and the promenade was busier than ever, so we climbed up the steps towards two large gun emplacements. These played a very important role as part of the British coastal defences in both World Wars.

 

We were too tired and cold to linger though, and we headed back towards the car.

 

Finally, we arrived - tired but happy – but not quite ready for another adventure!!




 

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