Friday 5 October 2012--Short entry--nodding off. Much anxiety about departure. Win picked me up and will be
along for the next few days. Arrived safely at NCL and looked at Hadrabis Wall and Hexham Bacg
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Sunday 5 October 2014--I take the X18 down to Warkworth this morning. I passed through town in 2011, visiting the castle and having a look around, but I didn't have a chance to visit St Lawrence Church, said to be Northumberland's most complete surviving Norman church. Like most churches of the era, it was built on the site of an earlier one, probably wooden, dating back at least to the early 8th century. The Norman nave dates to the 1130s, and tower, belfry, and side aisle added over the next three hundred years or so. Work on a building like this never really ends; as recently as 2008, piles were driven down to bedrock to support reconstructed buttresses on the north wall, built on sandy ground.
(For more information, see the St Lawrence Church page at Undiscovered Scotland, from which I have cribbed most of the info here.)
The medieval bridge at the north end of town was built in the late 14th century, and was used by vehicular traffic until 1965, when a new bridge was built. (Judging from the condition of the stonework, I'd guess it was significantly rehabbed at some point.) I walk across the older one, and out the road toward the beach. The River Coquet swings south here, so that a peninsula of dune and sand extends toward Amble. It's a bit of a long way around the tip of this, but I want to walk the full length of the beach. I get a look at Amble from across the mouth of the river, as well. Then I turn north and head up the beach. It's not easy walking--unlike the flat and firm beaches to the north, the sands here are sloped and soft. There is also a short stretch where the beach disappears altogether, and it is necessary to clamber over some precarious ledges. If I ever do this walk again, I'll stick to the proper trail on the back side of the dunes.
Eventually, I reach the mouth of the River Aln, ascend Church Hill, and look across at Alnmouth. It's hard to believe now that Church Hill was once part of Alnmouth. The River Aln originally met the sea to the south of the hill, and there was a bustling harbor in its mouth. A great storm on Christmas Day of 1806 changed the course of the river, cutting Church Hill off from the remains of the town. The former harbor area became a backwater, eventually silting up, ending Alnmouth's days as a significant port. There is nothing now left of the southern part of the village, save for the ruins of the church at the foot of the hill.
My intent is to get to Alnmouth by 4:00, so I'll have time for a pint before catching the bus. Standing atop the hill, I'm only a couple hundred yards away, but I have to circle around the marshy remnants of the river's former course, a distance of two and a half miles. I walk into the Red Lion at exactly 4:00, and find the weekend-long Alnmouth Beer Festival winding down in a tent out back. The organizers are trying to empty the casks in the festival's last hours, and have stopped charging (although a charitable donation is suggested). I'm encouraged to grab a glass and help myself. Why did I waste all day walking? I shortly find myself in conversation with Alistair and Nikki, two friendly locals. I like Alnmouth a lot; I wish I could find a place to stay that fits my budget.
Catch the X18 back to Seahouses, shower, and head out for dinner. It's been a fine day, the first that I haven't either slept in late or taken a nap, the first of the trip that has gone pretty much as I'd envisioned it in the planning.