An engagement party meant a trip up to Northumberland for the weekend and an opportunity to visit family on the way and stop of at the coast on the way back home. I know it’s not in Yorkshire but it’s a part of the word where a lot of my family is from and it’s a great place to visit. An traffic jam looming just south of Team meant a swift diversion through Gateshead and a chance to stop of at the Angel of the North.
The twenty meter high and fifty meter wide Antony Gormley sculpture is positioned on the top of a hill in Low fell. It is regarded as one of the best pieces of public art in the country, it is an imposing structure towering over the A1 motorway and the main East Coast mainline. Anyone heading north to Newcastle via these routes could not fail to see it and be impressed by it.
I’ve driven past the Angel several times a year since it was completed 16 years ago in 1998 but it has been a while since I’ve been up close to it. It looks fabulous from the road but standing next to it the scale is impressive as it dwarfs the people stood below. It makes me wonder what could have been if Gormley had had his Brick Man sculpture proposed for Leeds approved.
On the way back down to Yorkshire we decided to head to the coast. First stop was Seaton Sluice, a small village with a harbour at the mouth of Seaton Burn with a sandy dune lined beach running up to Blyth. This is a place I spent many summers as a child and brings back fond memories of building sand castles and running into the freezing North Sea.
We then drove through Whitley Bay which was quiet in contrast to its night-time stag doo and hen party reputation, through Cullercoats and onto Tynemouth. After a bit of a struggle finding a parking space we eventually found somewhere and walked along the river, past Tynemouth Sailing Club and up to the main street. Again, it’s been a while since I’ve been here, I always remember Front Street being a fairly quiet place but it’s now thriving with cafes and restaurants.
The headland, Pen Bal Crag, is dominated by the castle and Benedictine priory. The priory was founded in the early 7th century and is the burial place of two Northumbrian kings and one Scottish king. A castle has been on the site since Norman times but the stone walls we see today date from 1296, in 1390 the gatehouse was added.
A day at the coast would not be complete without some good old fish and chips. They are not quite Whitby but outside of Yorkshire the Northumberland coast does some of the best fish and chips and my granddad used to take me down to the quayside to get them fresh of the boat. You have to put up with cod mind.
Of course having fish and chips meant we made a few new friends of the flying variety. Finding no luck with us though one of them looked on across the sandy beach searching out his next deep fried snack.