I have a history of hiking blog posts where the title ends in “Almost”. Remember for example when we “almost” walked from Seatown to Abbotsbury along the South West Coastal Path? Oh, the fun we had when we realised our 15km walk was actually 15 miles. And of the course, there’s the time we “almost” walked up Mount Snowdon.
So we made sure we carefully checked our distances before we embarked on our Amble to Alnmouth hike during our recent New Year Northumberland break. A perfectly doable 6 miles each way. No nasty surprises lay in wait.
Before our Amble to Alnmouth walk proper we take a short detour to get some photos at the harbourside – I’m particularly taken with the pastel coloured beach huts.
Eventually I’ve taken enough photos of fishing paraphernalia and we find our way out of the town. Amble itself is separated from the sea by the River Coquet so we head through the marina and inland towards the A1068. Despite walking along the main road, it’s a pleasant enough walk, with diminishing views of Amble reflected in the estuary behind us, and the ruined fortress of Warkworth Castle looming ahead. Other than a slight ascent into Warkworth, it’s an easy amble from Amble.
We wander through the village of Warkworth, but we don’t stop, we’re just passing through on this leg of the journey. We earmark the Masons Arms for a drink stop on the return. Finally through the village, we follow the path to the beach. We deviate along a cycle path, before taking a right-hand turn and cut through Warkworth Golf Club, avoiding stray balls as we go. And we’re finally on the beach! There’s a great expanse of pure white sand stretching as far as the eye can see. I celebrate by taking off my socks and shoes and pretending I’m sunbathing. And then putting them back on again before my toes turn blue.
It’s time to start walking again, this time along the sandy shore. It’s just us and a few dog-walkers. It looks like we can go no more after a little while, but we clamber across Birling Carrs rocks near a caravan park before continuing our stroll. It’s definitely lunchtime now, and my tummy is letting me know by grumbling loudly. But the beach seems endless. Not Chesil Beach endless. But endless nonetheless. I’m bored of the beach a little now. Mr Fletche convinces me that Alnmouth is “just around that corner”. Hold on. A corner? On a beach?
We do indeed turn a corner. Onto the banks of the River Aln Estuary. And the thing with an estuary? They don’t tend to build bridges across them. The road is far, far away in the distance. As is the only bridge into Alnmouth. There is no way across. Not even a little man with a tiny boat – who would seriously make a killing in situations like these. I am suffering serious hip burn – which also, funnily enough, turns out to be the name of an offshoot of the River Aln. I ponder how deep the water is, and whether we could wade across. At low tide, maybe. But not now.
We have no alternative but to clamber up the headland where we can turn right and try and find a way into Alnmouth that doesn’t involve getting our feet wet. Or we can turn left and take a clifftop path parallel to the way we came and give up on Alnmouth altogether. I declare that I never wanted to go to Alnmouth anyway. We retreat, picking our way across mud flats until we come to that familiar caravan park, all shut up for the winter. And then we’re back at the golf course, albeit approaching from an entirely different angle this time. The path back to Warksworth seems much much longer than the outgoing journey. That journey was when we had hopes and aspirations, dreams of a leisurely pub lunch in Alnmouth, maybe washed down with a local real ale or two.
Eventually we arrive back into civilisation. We speed up a little as Warkworth’s Masons Arms is in sight. A beacon, calling to us. We pile inside on weary legs, eager to divest of our many layers of clothes, and to relieve a bulging bladder. A pint at the end of a hike is the best pint ever.
We stayed in the small town of Amble, a traditional fishing port on the Northumberland coast located on the banks of the River Coquet. The harbourside has been redeveloped over the past few hours, and there is a small independent retail and craft village which was sadly quiet at this time of year but I can imagine to be popular in the holiday season. The town is also well known for it’s Puffin Festival in May. We stayed in this lovely AirBnB on a quiet residential street, a 10 minute stroll from the harbour.
We’d taken all of our leftover Christmas supplies with us so breakfast and snacks were sorted but on our evenings we ate fish and chips from the Harbour Fish Bar, and had a proper seafood meal at The Fish Shack on our final night. We also had takeaway pizza from “Euro Pizza” on the first night. Don’t judge us.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our first “Almost” hike of the year… I’m sure it won’t be the last! If you fancy staying in an Airbnb – and you’re a new customer – use this link to get £25 towards your first trip!