After our encounter with the Giant Spoon and the Alien Sophie and I got back in the car and headed off to Druridge Bay and the country park there.
The History Bit
Druridge Bay is a 7 miles long bay on the coast of Northumberland. During World War II, defences were constructed around Druridge Bay as part of the anti-invasion preparations. The defences included scaffolding barriers and anti-tank blocks overlooked by pillboxes; and behind these were minefields and an anti-tank ditch. Between the hamlets of Druridge and Cresswell, anti-glider ditches were dug and there is still a brick-built decoy control there somewhere. But there was a bitter wind coming in off the sea and we didn’t spend a long time photographing on the beach. Job for summer.
In the 80’s there were plans to site a Pressurised Water Reactor nuclear power station there. There was a long campaign to prevent that happening, and with new government rulings on Nuclear Power happening, the plans were shelved in 1989. In 2015 the Banks group Mining company applied to do open cast mining in 900 acres immediately to the west of the beach, for the extraction of 3 million tonnes of coal. Six weeks after the application was submitted the UK government announced that all coal-fired energy generation would cease by 2025. Over 1800 letters of objection were received but Northumberland County Council approved plans for the open-cast mine in July 2016. In September 2016, the plans were put on hold subject to a government inquiry. Instead the Banks Group are open cast mining near Cramlington, but that will be covered in the next post.
Northumberland Wildlife Trust purchased the sand extraction site from RMC Group in 2006. The shore is known for populations of birds including the golden plover and the purple sandpiper. Druridge Bay is best known to birdwatchers for hosting, in 1998, the Druridge Bay curlew, a controversial bird which was eventually accepted as the first record of a slender-billed curlew in Britain, although this identification is still disputed by some. I don’t suppose the birds care, being as controversial as they like, and we didn’t see any anyway :). Druridge Bay is also used by naturists. The North East Skinny Dip, first held in 2012, is an annual event to raise funds for MIND, the mental health charity. It is held around the time of the Autumn Equinox in late September each year. We didn’t see any of those either. Thankfully.
Those were my last shots there, as the main event for us was the 1.5 mile walk around Ladyburn Lake at the country park on the other side of the nature reserve. The park is centred on the lake with surrounding meadows and woods which has been restored from an old opencast coal mine and is maturing into a very pleasant landscape for walks and picnics. It’s reasonably quiet here in February, a few dog walkers of course, and a couple wrapped up well and having said picnic, as you do when it’s 3 degrees outside with a wind chill factor of -6!
The lake and surround is home to quite a few birds,
We could see swans and other birds on the far side of the lake but meandered slowly around, enjoying the sunshine and having a natter.
Although it was cold and the wind was snappy, we had some sunshine, everything seems better in the sun don’t you think?
We normally think of catkins as being yellow, but the Alder trees have lovely purpley ones
That will do for Part 1, but stay tooned for Part 2 when we find some strange rocks, and beautiful swans.