Northward bound: Exploring northward

TYNEMOUTH  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

We headed north this time, towards Newcastle where our nephew and his wife would be flying into for a visit. This city known for its shipping of coal has a reputation for night life and all that goes with it: clubs, music, events, and restaurants. It also features several marinas, one of which we were checking out along with other ports of call further north.

It was blustery and chilly but we enjoyed walking the streets of Tynemouth after visiting Tynemouth’s headland with yet another priory and castle. This one had the typical convoluted history (to me) as other old and crumbling ruins:  began as a smaller building in 600s; later sacked by the Danes in 800s (St. Hilda’s nuns who went there to be safe found themselves massacred at one of these attacks); rebuilt during Norman times (1000-1300s), and, later the monastic buildings were dismantled during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the Catholic Church’s holdings 1536-40.

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But, the castle and Prior’s house were saved. The castle ended up being the birthplace of the 9th Earl of Northumbria, Henry Percy in 1854, and there’s a beautiful chapel still on the grounds.  This 9th Earl Percy was the grandson of the 6th who was originally betrothed to Anne Boleyn prior to her becoming Henry VIII’s second wife. If only she had known where her future was headed….

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This priory was also on a headland similar to Whitby. The reason for the prominent placement of these priories is they weren’t serving as retreats from the world but as missions to spread the word of Christianity. Therefore, it made perfect sense to site these grand behemoths in actively trading ports found where river mouths ran into the sea.

This particular site remained in use as a garrison for British troops but then, like most of these magnificent ruins, evolved eventually into an English Heritage site for people like us to troop around while trying to imagine what it was like way back when.

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Walking down the streets running parallel to the river Max spotted some people-watchers

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who were sitting above a spot where a famous musician ate some fish and chips.

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Getting back in the car we headed for one of Newcastle marina’s when we saw some boats sailing in this brisk wind.

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We hopped out and met up with the sailors with one captain letting Max try his hand.

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This sailing club has been in existence for more than 100 years, and these guys are part of a group who meet Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. to race. A nice way to enjoy the simple pleasures of sailing.

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The rest of the day entailed driving to and checking out marinas in Newcastle (a bit out of town if using the one close to the river mouth), Blythe (small and very industrial), and Amble (extremely friendly with access 2hrs-45 mins to 3hrs-45 mins either side of high tide depending on whether spring or neap tide). By the end of the day we were ready to head home happy to be returning to Hartlepool.

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