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Marsden Bay and Cleadon Hills

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Marsden Bay and Cleadon Hills
Author: Claire, Published: 21 Jun 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Tyne and Wear, Marsden
Walk Type: Coastal
Marsden Bay and Cleadon Hills
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 5 mile circular coastal walk from Marsden in Tyne and Wear. The route heads inland through the rolling farmland and meadows before returning along a stretch of the dramatic coast. There is plenty of interest along the way with old windmills, the iconic Cleadon Water Tower, the impressive coastal sea stacks and lovely views throughout, which stretch for miles around.

The walk has several long but gentle climbs and descents. The paths are generally firm but can be muddy in winter and some parts can be a little overgrown in the summer so long trousers are recommended. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates plus seven stiles (low stone stiles and low wooden stiles with large open gaps alongside that should be easy for most dogs to pass through or climb over). The fields along the route were all crop fields (not holding any livestock) at the time of writing. The route crosses a golf course so take particular care here to avoid any flying stray golf balls. Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours.

Marsden is located on the southern outskirts of South Shields on the North Sea Coast, Tyne and Wear. The walk starts and finishes from the National Trust Whitburn Coastal Park car park (free of charge at the time of writing) which is signed off the A183 Coast Road. Turn into the entrance, then turn right (NOT left which leads to Souter Lighthouse) and follow the road down to the car park at the very end of the lane. Approximate post code SR6 7NQ.

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Walk Sections

Start to Millside
Start to Millside

Start point: 54.9644 lat, -1.3596 long
End point: 54.9565 lat, -1.3654 long

Standing in the car park with the access road to the right, walk ahead (heading south) to join the narrow gravel path towards houses. Turn left at the T-junction and you will pass the signs on the left for Whitburn Coastal Park and Local Nature Reserve. Follow the gravel path with the houses to the right.

On the left you will pass a wooden screen, a bird hide from which you can watch the birds within the reserve. The reserve has purpose built ponds, reed beds and feeding stations and attracts birds such as Reed Warblers and many wading birds.

Beyond the tunnel of trees, keep ahead through the gap in the stone wall and you will reach a T-junction with another path (with open views across the fields ahead). Turn right along the path and then follow it as it bends left, right, left and right again. You will emerge out to the end of a residential road.

Keep ahead along the road and follow it all the way to the T-junction at the top. Turn left for a few paces and then use the zebra crossing to swap to the right-hand pavement. Continue along the pavement for some distance, until you reach the property Millside House on the right.

Millside to Well House Farm
Millside to Well House Farm

Start point: 54.9565 lat, -1.3654 long
End point: 54.9543 lat, -1.3743 long

A few paces later, turn right through the gap in the stone wall to enter the grounds of the restored windmill. The mill dates from the 1700s and is Grade II listed. It was fully restored, including the fitting of a full set of sails, in the 1990s. Follow the paved path uphill, passing the windmill on the left.

At the top of the slope keep ahead along the pavement, passing between houses. Follow the road as it bends left and then take the first road on the right. You will come to a T-junction. Turn left for a few paces and then turn right onto the signed public footpath between the bus stop and house number 99. Keep ahead on the path, with a crop field to the right and houses to the left.

You will emerge to a T-junction with a quiet tarmac lane. Turn left along this, passing a horse paddock on the right. Immediately after the first bungalow on the right, turn right onto the stone track, signed as a public footpath. The track will lead you to the buildings of Well House Farm directly ahead.

Well House Farm to Cleadon Windmill
Well House Farm to Cleadon Windmill

Start point: 54.9543 lat, -1.3743 long
End point: 54.9619 lat, -1.3935 long

Go ahead through the farm yard via the pair of gates (or the two low stone stiles should the gates be closed). Beyond the farm yard, keep ahead on the narrow path between crop fields with the hedge running on the right.

This path is part of the Bede’s Way. This 12 mile walking route was devised to allow people to walk in the footsteps of 7th century pilgrims, from the twin monastery sites of St Peter’s in Wearmouth to St Paul’s in Jarrow. Bede was educated at the monastery from the age of seven and became a well-known scholar and author, his work gaining him the title of The Father of English History.

Some way along the field, the path swings right over a low stile and continues ahead between fenced fields. Cross the next stile to reach the corner of an open crop field. Simply keep straight ahead along the left-hand field edge. Stay with the field edge as it swings left and then right.

Across to the right you will have great views out to sea and if you look behind you will be able to see the skyline of Sunderland. A little further along take the fenced path which forks left, goes up some shallow steps and leads you over a wooden walkway to the next stile. Cross this and keep ahead along the left-hand boundary of this next crop field (passing under power lines).

Follow this field edge path winding and climbing and, on clear days, you will have views for miles around, both out to sea and inland. Soon you will see two towers on the hillside ahead, a windmill base (Cleadon Windmill) and a square red brick tower (Cleadon Water Tower).

At the end of the crop field, the path swings left over a low stile and then climbs through an open grass meadow, heading for the windmill. As a stone wall begins on the right, stay on the path directly alongside it to pass to the right of the windmill.

Cleadon Windmill to Golf Course
Cleadon Windmill to Golf Course

Start point: 54.9619 lat, -1.3935 long
End point: 54.9664 lat, -1.3943 long

Alongside the windmill you will see an information board giving more details about the local area. The windmill dates from the 1820s but was partially destroyed by a storm in the 1870s and then suffered the indignity of being a target for gunnery practice for troops in World War I. The windmill is sited on the highest point within the Cleadon Hills, a ridge of high ground which, about 260 million years ago, was a group of small islands in a tropical lagoon.

With the windmill still on the left, keep ahead following the line of the wall on the right, heading for Cleadon Water Tower ahead. The tower was the chimney for the steam-powered pumps for the old water pumping station. It was built in 1863 in the neo-italianate style and, at 100 feet tall it is one of the area’s most iconic landmarks.

Stay on the path closest to the wall and you will come to a wooden kissing gate within the wall ahead. Pass through this and follow the path which passes the ornate sculptural waymarker for the Linnet Way on the right. Cross over the access road and keep ahead along the grass track with the wall on the right.

You will come to a wire fence ahead. Pass through the large metal kissing gate here and continue on the narrow path between tall hedgerows. This will lead you out to the edge of the golf course.

Golf Course to Coast Road
Golf Course to Coast Road

Start point: 54.9664 lat, -1.3943 long
End point: 54.9756 lat, -1.3762 long

Take particular care for the next stretch which crosses the golf course. Allow golfers to play their shots before you proceed and keep your eyes peeled for any stray flying golf balls. Cross the golf course at about 11 o’clock, following the series of footpath signs with yellow posts. At the far side, a single yellow post marks the way into the area of scrub.

Cross the low stone stile over the stone wall and then turn right along the path with the wall running on the right. Follow this for some distance. Over to the left you will be able to see the long stone breakwater piers at Tynemouth and South Shields, at the mouth of the Tyne Estuary.

Eventually the path swings right and leads you down a long slope (which can get overgrown) to emerge out to a road. Cross over with care, turn left for a few paces and then turn right onto the signed public bridleway which passes a caravan site on the left. The path leads you down to a T-junction with the main A183 Coast Road.

Coast Road to End
Coast Road to End

Start point: 54.9756 lat, -1.3762 long
End point: 54.9647 lat, -1.3596 long

Cross over with care, keep ahead across the grass verge and then turn right along the grass path which follows the cliff edge on the left. This stretch of the coast is particularly beautiful with its tall cliffs above sandy beaches. You will see isolated sections of tall rock which are now surrounded by sea, known as sea stacks, the largest of which is Marsden Rock. The stacks make valuable nesting sites for sea birds including gulls and cormorants.

You will pass by the redundant access road for the old Lizard Road car park, now closed due to the coastal erosion. Just beyond this, bear left across the open grass area to pass to the left of the red and white Souter Lighthouse. The lighthouse, opened in 1871, was designed specifically to use alternating electric current, the most advanced lighthouse of its day. It was decommissioned in 1988 and is owned by the National Trust and open to the public (entrance fees apply). The site is also home to the large fog horn which is still sounded for special open days so don’t be startled by it as you walk by.

Follow the white wall of the lighthouse grounds on the right and, immediately after this, turn left (crossing over a small tarmac path) to reach the wide white stone with the cliff barrier ahead. Turn right along this and follow it for some distance. You will pass the rocky bay, The Wherry, on the left. Immediately afterwards the path forks, take the right-hand branch and this path will lead you back to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

2 comments for "Marsden Bay and Cleadon Hills"

Great views of the coastline and then later on of Tyneside from the hills. Plenty to see all the way around.

By peterlug on 22 Sep 2015

an excellent Sunday walk, some great views

By davidrout on 15 Feb 2015

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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