On the Cliffs at Whitburn

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Last weekend we went up to the North East visiting family. On Sunday afternoon we took a couple of hours to go for a walk on the cliffs north of Whitburn near Souter lighthouse. It was quite windy and fairly sunny, but with some heavy showers. Our walk was sandwiched by heavy downpours but we managed to keep dry.

The coastline is quite stunning with rugged rocks, cliffs, caves and coves,

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with cormorants and kittiwakes nesting on the rocks.

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Battered by the sea and the elements, the cliffs are eroding, a process being accelerated by climate change. The National Trust recently had to close a road and cliff top car park as the cliffs at that point are undermined by caves and could collapse at any time.

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There’s a lot of history in the area. Although today the coast between Whitburn and South Shields are owned by the National Trust the top of the cliffs is a pleasant lawned area not that long ago they were dominated by industry with a coalmine (Whitburn colliery) lime kilns and a railway running along the top of the cliffs. And next to the lighthouse, on top of the cliffs there was a village built to house miners from the colliery, and exposed to the wind and rain  and, on foggy days, blasted by the noise from the lighthouse’s foghorn. Today they are all gone, except for the ruins of the lime kilns. You’d never know they’d been there.

(Image from Marsden Banner Group website)

(Image from Marsden Banner Group website)

The Marsden Banner Group have some good information on the history of the colliery and the village on their website.

To the south of the lighthouse, the coastal path descends and there is access to a small cove known as the Wherry.

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The tide was out exposing an expanse of limestone pavement

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The Wherry was a popular local recreation spot in the past and fishing boats were kept in and launched from the cove. There was a picture showing a couple of boats on an information panel on the path near the cove.

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After our walk, talking to one of our relatives we discovered that one of the boats pictured belonged to his grandfather.

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