Dolphins, Seal Police and the Proleten

Day 38 – South Shields to Alnmouth – 27th June – 26.2 nm

We dodge the wayward dogs on the beach once again, it’s an early start, but it is rarely possible to beat the good old British dog walker down to the beach. The sun is out and people are just arriving - power-walkers, personal trainers and the odd yoga-type are heading for the soft sand.  I'm on the water for 07:30 and head for the harbour walls at Tynemouth. 

The South Pier looks a little tired and is speckled with anglers, I get the usual abuse and a line cast across my bow as I pass the end. As I close on the North Pier it looks a little ‘shinier’ and there are no anglers, just a couple of smartly-dressed runners looking like they have tripped off the front cover of ‘Runner’s World, in contrast I get a cheery wave. I reflect on the difference between the North and South side of the river as I turn towards Whitley Bay.

Suddenly a snort brings me out of my dreamland and I look over my shoulder to see 3 dolphins just behind – my first of the trip. They come to the bow of the boat, I yell like a little kid, but with my early-morn-sluggishness I am not enough entertainment and they soon move on.

Heading now for the lighthouse in the distance, perched on St Mary’s Island - I pass Whitley Bay on the way. In the car park above the lighthouse I spot a van with a red and white boat on the roof - it stands out nicely; I head in to say hello to the Team Manager as she wanders down to the lighthouse. As a consequence she gets a bollocking from the Seal Police and told, in turn, to tell me to move on. I sit outside of the pot buoys and have a break, with a crowd of curious seals around me, and then paddle off in reverse so I can watch as the seals follow for a while.

I've only been on the water for two hours by the time I reach Blyth, but the tide is against me now and I land to await a little more lunar movement. The beach is nice but it’s going to be a long wait so I head up to the van, it’s parked in a scruffy and very busy Saturday car-park, a very welcome egg and bacon butty magically appears.

The adjacent cycle track is used by an impressive number of people, there is a definite cycling buzz about the place. But then you soon realise the racetrack road to Blyth would be a suicidal cycling affair and it starts to make a little more sense. The noise of a music festival in Blyth drifts down the wind.

Eventually it’s time to get on again, I will be grateful of a little peace and quiet - I am surprised that we've not witnessed a major accident on the road.

At Newbiggin-By-The-Sea a sudden squall comes out of nowhere and blows off-shore, just as quickly it disappears. What was all that about?  Team Manager calls to say she has parked at Cresswell and invites me to a picnic on the beach – that sounds good to me, I've no hurry with the tide now.

But just as I reach the edge of the bay she calls again, she is moving on, it turns out that things aren't quite as they seemed and she deems that it is now time to make a hasty exit. I shrug and head north across Druridge Bay - the wind finished me off here last time, it’s not bad today but there is still a bit of a splashy breeze funnelling out of the bay.

I sneak through the rock ledges and land on the peaceful beach at Amble, we sit in the sunshine on top of the dunes and watch life go by for a while – a rare magical moment. A WWR and a ski round Coquet Island (Mr Cresser perhaps?) and head back to the harbour. Tomorrow is the Coquet Island race, once gain I’ve missed it, I guess they’re going for a little last minute sneaky practice. I watch them through the binoculars, it’s pretty choppy out there for a WWR - he’s going well. (Nicky didn’t race this year, so I was wrong with my guess of the paddler).

It’s pretty draughty now and though it’s off shore it quickly gets choppy out there, it’s only an hour to Alnmouth and under the sunny skies it’s a lively but pleasant end to the day - a 26.2 nm – 12hrs 25 mins day.

Eventually we find the campsite at Alnwick Rugby Club, it’s 10 years since our previous visit. We have a brief chat with a paddler who is up for the race tomorrow, he spot the Tarans and remarks I should think about having a go at racing sometime – he thinks they are fast boats apparently.

As darkness beckons, we eat our boil-in-the-bag food accompanied by the first midges of the trip.  
A reminder that Scotland beckons.