194. Sunderland to Crimond

I had planned originally to reach Hartlepool on this walk, but began to have second thoughts when I did a rough estimate of the distance involved. I therefore decided on Crimond, which is located just south of Blackhall Colliery. But first I had to drive south through the Tyne Tunnel and down the A19. It had been raining most of the night and I decided to wear my walking boots as I suspected parts of the walk today would be on muddy ground.

It was still dark when I parked up just to the south of Crimond Dene holiday park. The lights of Hartlepool were twinkling just a few miles away. I walked to the main road to catch the 7:14 #23 bus which would take me, via a very circuitous route all the way to Sunderland. The bus journey took a good hour and it was quite light when I disembarked at Sunderland bus station and began walking towards the Wearmouth Bridge.

After replenishing myself with a Greggs breakfast I dropped down to River Wear and its footpath and began walking eastwards to the mouth of the Wear. It was almost 4 miles before I said goodbye to the built up areas of Sunderland. I was walking along the England Coast Path and to be quite honest there was little or no need to refer to the map. In fact, it stayed in my rucksack all day!

In the distance I could make out the large town of Seaham which I would be walking through. The walking was very easy and gentle and I made good time. The only inconvenience on this stretch of coast are steep-sided gullies, ravines or valleys called Denes locally. Most of these Denes meant a short detour inland to pass around the head of the Dene.

I entered Seaham and headed for the small green where the artist Ray Lonsdale’s statue/sculpture depicts a sitting British Soldier, officially called 1101 (the time the armistice kicked in) it is more commonly known as Tommy. I next nipped across the road into to get a Greggs coffee. As I walked out-of-town I could look down on the concrete and quite barren Seaham Docks.

Wall mural below Wearmouth Bridge
Looking south to Seaham
“Tommy” sculpture at Seaham

After passing Nose’s Point I was now on what has been termed the Durham Heritage Coast. Most of the land I been walking over today had once had heavy industry and coal mines on it. Today, after years of reparation, little evidence remains of this industrial heritage. In fact if it was not for the signs, no one would ever know that this area had once been a huge coalfield.  I dropped down into a steep valley of Hawthorn Dene , with its dramatic railway viaduct spanning  Hawthorn Dene.

At Warren House Gulley I drop down to the beach and continue walking along it for about a mile. The sand is interspersed with very fine coal pieces that came from spoil heaps from the local Horden Colliery, which are flattened now. At Hartlepool Point I climb up again to the cliff top path. My legs begin to tire as I try to locate the caravan park at Crimond, which seems to take an age before it came into view. I’m glad I did a shortened walk today, the extra bit down to Hartlepool would have been a bit of a chore.

Hawthorn Dene viaduct
Signage on the Durham Heritage Coast
Flattened coal spoil-heaps at Warren House Gulley
Looking north back along the coast at Hartlepool Point
Blue House Gill at Blackhall Colliery

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 3,431 miles



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