Doing the Warkworth walk

A cross with a view

It’s nearly a year since my May Day in Warkworth, Northumberland, blog when the biting wind was so cold that it made your eyebrows hurt. What a difference this time around! The tide was high and the sun had its hat firmly set at a jaunty angle in a cloudless blue sky. Myself and my expat chum Anne, from Canada set off somewhat overdressed (old habits die hard) for a perfect sandy walk along the beautiful almost deserted, beach.

Deserted dunes

We then followed along the inlet which separates Warkworth from the next village Alnmouth, and back along the top of the hill. At the top is an old wooden Celtic cross which makes for an ideal vantage point to look out across the bay. We were supposed to be following a farm track ( I was sure I knew the way) but somehow we ended up strolling along the golf club fairway which was probably not what we should have been doing at all. Still, there was no one even playing golf that day so no low flying balls to consider. It was just us, the seabirds, the pheasants and the bunnies enjoying the unaccustomed warmth of the sun and the much missed UV light on the back of our retinas. There are lots of pretty cowslips growing along the top of the beach banks. These once common seaside wildflowers are now an endangered species, but they are flourishing here.

Country Cowslip

Along the beach way we met Ethel and Mick a mature couple who asked to be referred to as the ‘Wandering Cumbrians.’ They were looking for stones on the beach , pieces of flint, agate and fossils and having a lovely time doing it.

Ethel gets stoned
Beach combing is free, fun and a much under rated pass time in my opinion. As we passed the bright yellow gorse bushes blooming everywhere, Anne said that her husband Peter declared that he remembered gorse smelt like Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion. I sniffed carefully – it’s very prickly – and guess what, it does! Quite extraordinary.


Ooh it smells of holidays!

Warkworth village is a pretty spot to stop for tea and tiffin, or in our case, coffee and crab sandwiches. Fresh Northumberland crab sandwiches are hard to beat and those served at the Topsy Turvey café were indeed delicious.


Crab sandwiches, no salad..

We were sharing a large round of sandwiches which were advertised on the menu as coming with either crisps or salad. I asked if we could perhaps have a bit of both as we were sharing them but this proved to be a request too far. ‘Margaret’s on sandwiches today’ came the reply ‘so it’s non negotiable.’ Whatever happened to ‘the customer is always right?’ There were also some helpful  lifestyle hints displayed for consideration.

A tall order
Warkworth Castle which sits atop a daffodil  strewn mound, or motte,  really do ‘hath a pleasant seat’ (quote from Macbeth) It is another medieval fortified structure with which Northumberland is littered, having more castles than any other county in England. Warkworth itself has a beautiful river , the Coquet, and when the weather perks up you can hire a rowing boat and have a mighty pleasant time zig zagging down the bendy river under its leafy green canopy. The amount of zig zagging you do is entirely dependent upon your proficiency at rowing in a straight line. I have a tendency to lose control of my rollocks, resulting in substantial zig zagging, but it’s great fun all the same.


Who’s the king of the castle?

Along the river you can pay the ferry lady to cross the river and see the secret Hermitage which was home to the Hermit of Warkworth made famous in the poem of the same name, by Thomas Percy. Robson Green explored the Hermitage in his recent series Tales from Northumberland and I mean this year, to do the same.

Sea side installation

If you like walks, or beaches, or crab sandwiches, or rivers, or tea and cakes, or sniffing gorse, or all of these things, then I can highly recommend a spin along the Northumberland Coastal Route for a day out at Warkworth.

Verses from the (very very long) poem about the old Hermit of Warkworth.
And now attended by their host, The Hermitage they viewed

Deep hewn within a craggy cliff and overhung with wood

And near a flight of shapeless steps All cut with nicest skill

And piercing through a stony arch Ran winding up the hill

Scooped within the solid rock Three sacred vaults he shows

The chief a chapel neatly arch’d On branching columns rose

If you would like to read the other two hundred stanzas – try google.