Marsden coast - Souter Lighthouse - Cleadon Hills - Marsden coast
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Starting at Whitburn Coastal Park, the walk initially follows the sea cliffs on the coastal path, the coastal area here being recognised for the importance and variety of its geology, wildflowers and seabirds. Here there is a good opportunity to spot many seabirds, so have your binoculars at the ready and find out what species you can see. The cliffs and rock stacks are home to one of the largest seaird colonies in the North East, with thousands of pairs of kittiwakes, hundreds of fulmars, cormorants and herring gulls, as well as shags, razor bills and lesser black-backed gulls.
We then pass Souter Lighthouse, which started operating in 1871 and was, at the time, the most advanced in the world. If you fancy an early stop, the lighthouse tea room serves refreshments and delicious local specialities.
As you stand beside Souter Lighthouse and look out over the green field to the north, it's difficult to imagine that it was once home to the thriving village of Marsden, known locally as the village that vanished. The village provided homes for around 700 people, mainly miners and their families, the village having a church, Methodist chapel, Co-op store, Miners' Institute, post office and school. By the 1950s, erosion had damaged the cliffs to such an extent that the village was in danger of slipping into the sea, so people moved out and when the mine closed in 1968, the village was demolished.
After passing the remains of Marsden limekilns, which are a striking reminder of the area's industrial past, we head for Cleadon Hills Nature Reserve. The magnesium limestone geology of Cleadon Hills is ideal for a range of nationally important wildflowers, including violets, cowslips and rock roses. This is the highest point in the borough of South Tyneside and provides panoramic views of the area, including Penshaw Monument in the distance. On a clear day you can see the Cleveland Hills to the south and the Cheviots to the north. Here the walk passes the early 19th Century Cleadon Windmill, now partially restored, having been used for target practice during the 1914-18 war.
We then follow the path through farmland to visit Whitburn Windmill before rejoining the coastal path, to enjoy again the spectacular coastal scenery as we arrive back at our starting point.
England - North England - Tyne and Wear - South Tyneside
Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Flowers, Great Views, Industrial Archaeology, Mostly Flat, National Trust, Public Transport, Sea, Tea Shop, Toilets
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