Today we're waiting for our oldest grandson to arrive as he's going to stay with us for a few days. At the weekend he went climbing with some of his friends on Scafell Pike, a mountain in Cumbria, the highest in England. Now he's driving up from his home in Hampshire so I do hope that he'll be feeling up to some more time in the Peak District as we plan to go there during his visit.
It was, therefore, very good to have had the weekend away with our Christian fellowship group with the opportunity for some quiet time. Early on the Sunday morning there was time for a walk around Alnmouth starting by the river and the end of the village where the friary is located.
On one side of the path were the fields and the village and on the other was the grassland of the estuary. I stopped to talk to some local people who were sitting in the sunshine just enjoying the view and the bird life and they told me that this area sometimes floods right up to the path during high tides. I could hear the distinctive cry of a curlew and at such a time I always feel that I could do with a better camera as I think I spotted that curlew (or it could be another type of wading bird) as it came down to drink on the opposite bank near the bridge.
seaweed and an old tree trunk
The mouth of the river Aln. Across the water is Church Hill which until 1806 was joined to the village by a low lying stretch of land and the river flowed on its southern side. On Christmas Day a severe storm caused the river to break through this piece of land and change its course. The old channel silted up and sand dunes developed. Then in 1857 the Duchess Bridge was built and flood banks were constructed to stop the estuary from being completely flooded at high tide, although it seems that some flooding on the grasslands near the bridge is happening again at certain times. Nevertheless, the sheltered estuary has continued to be a place from which to sail and fish.
We had taken a walk through the village on the Friday night and had found the hut so it was good to return in daylight and find it open.
photo courtesy of the local history archive in the hut
The 9ft by 7ft (approx 3m x 2m) ferry hut claims to be the smallest heritage centre in the North East. It's around a century old and was used by the ferryman who would row people across the estuary . Prices for the ferry depended on the state of the tide. At high tide when the estuary was at its widest the fee was 3 pence. The last ferryman, John Brown, is believed to have stopped working in the 1960s.
Looking into the sun light, the mouth of the river Aln meets the North Sea. Coquet Island with its bird colony managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and its lighthouse can be seen in the distance and in the other direction is a stretch of sandy beach, the dunes and beyond that the golf course and the cliffs.
A good place to rest and look for some wild flowers growing in the sea grass - I found wild wallflowers and honeysuckle and I'm sure there were many more species that will happily thrive in this environment.
As most of the village houses are situated on high ground there are good views of the sea. It wasn't necessary to climb these steps as the road by the golf course led back to the friary where a seat by the bay window in the library was a good place to look out once more at the sea view.