Looking back on Pilgrim’s Causeway is the sixth in the series of looking back posts. As we’ve done this walk so many times, it was difficult to decide which one to do. So, I’ve decided to try to incorporate the best bits of all of them.
The start – The Barn at Beal
Our tradition is to start here. It provides a great opportunity to get fed and watered and it has all of the facilities required, especially when you are going on a walk where there is no cover whatsoever.
They do a very good breakfast too and you can sit and watch the tide go out while you eat it. The tide is usually in when we get there, so a good guide is that it’s about time to set off when the road opens. It takes about half an hour to get sorted and then walk the path to the start of the causeway.
Down to the causeway
The path down to the causeway is good but the surface is loose. We’ve tried it in sandals (they are the most convenient footwear to carry) but the stones tend to find their way between the sandal and the foot. So, you’ll see us regularly knocking a stone out from our sandals.
A short walk along the causeway and we decide what we want to do. There is a river running under the causeway. The bridge kind of illustrates it. But it’s usually not too deep, so we decide if we’re going through the river or over the bridge. Decision made, we get onto the sand and take off our footwear.
The sand is usually still freshly wet from the North Sea. So, it’s icy cold. We take tentative steps until our feet get used to it or are numb enough to ignore it.
Following the poles
It’s easy to find your way. Just follow the poles. The hard part is knowing when to go and when not to go. After that it’s a walk in the park, or on the beach. Of course, technically, it is not a beach. It’s the sea bed, at least it is when 3m of water is over it. This is evidenced by the shells, crabs and worm casts that are everywhere.
Another tradition is for me to climb the first refuge to take a photograph of the group. This refuge has the bottom rung missing. So, it’s not easy to climb or indeed get down from. It’s a bit grim up there and the ladder is difficult, but I expect it’s better than drowning when the tide comes in.
The muddy bit
There is a safe way round the muddy bit what would be the fun in that. Part of the fun is feeling like a kid again, whilst enjoying getting covered up to the knees in black mud.
Several have slipped here. It’s not a good place to do this, especially on the way over, as this mud is black and it smells. Many have lost shoes and boots, isn’t that right Ruth?
Reaching the island
About two thirds of the way across, you often hear a mournful drone. Drifting away and then returning as the wind changes direction. This is the seals gathering on an exposed sand bar near Guile Point. I took a pair of binoculars and my spotter scope once. These allow you to see clearly what is making the noise.
On reaching the island, it is time to clean our feet and don our sandals. You can never seem to get all of the sand off and it chafes under the sandal straps.
On the way back
After the walk over and a look around the village, the way back is usually quicker. We’ve seen it all once already.
The most memorable journey back was when Anne’s daughter, Annabel, found that she had lost her shoes. No matter on the sand but the path from the end of the causeway to the start is gravel. Andrea loaned her some spare pumps but they were a bit too big. Anne decided to give her a piggy back. This was alright to start with but a mile in it was starting to hurt. She made it though. The shoes were never seen again.
Back to The Barn at Beal
It has also become the tradition to finish with tea and cake at The Barn at Beal. On a nice day, the views over the sands are spectacular. You can even relax and watch the tide come in, obscuring the causeway. I’m always respectful of the Pilgrim’s Causeway, especially when you can see where you see the path you were on is now under 3m of sea.
We hope you enjoyed looking back on Pilgrim’s Causeway, why not take a look at the previous ones, “Looking back on Low and High Force” or “Looking back on Swainby to Osmotherley“. Stay safe and look out for the next one.
Julie and Martin x
- Allen Banks – 6th Mar 2022
- Souter Lighthouse to South Shields – 20th Feb 2022
- Bamburgh and Budle Bay – 23rd Jan 2022
- Allen Banks walk – 11th Apr 2021
- Bamburgh to Seahouses Walk – 3rd April 2021
Strolls with Poles – Nordic Walking for Fun and Fitness