Any Geordie native will tell you he/she has the waters of the River Tyne running through their bloodstream, and I think it’s conceivable that after 15 years of drinking the tap water up her, that I have too. The Tyne has been romanticised in many a song, who can forget Jimmy Nail & Big River, or Lindisfarne’s Fog on the Tyne, or the beautiful Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler and James Taylor. It’s even mentioned in a song by the country singer Gretchen Peters, in her song England Blues.
When I first moved up here 15 years ago, I lived just over the road from it and it was part of my daily existence. I loved walking by it, camera in hand and fell in love with it as much as any regular Geordie. I started travelling the North East for work, and one day, on my way back from Haydon Bridge where I had a clinic, I looked at the sat-nav and saw a blue line running by the side of the road line, South Tyne it was labelled. I googled it when I got home and discovered there was a North Tyne and a South Tyne, and they converged at a point near a village called Warden. I determined one day to see if I could find where they met, but time/work/life and all that never lent itself to the task.
So back in May, after Sophie and I had finished in Haydon Church, we decided to go and look for the convergence on our way home. We followed a little road off the A69 that looked like a dead-end on the Nav, and we were pleasantly surprised to find it’s a ‘proper’ area, with walks and wildlife information.
There’s an old railway bridge to go under to get to the river.
There was wild garlic everywhere, (no bluebells though!)
The South Tyne rises on Alston Moor in Cumbria, 1000ft above sea level, and flows down through Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge in a valley known as the Tyne Gap, whereas the North Tyne rises on the Scottish Border north of Keilder Water. It flows through Keilder Forest and winds in and out of the border, then passes through the village of Bellingham where you can take a walk to see the beautiful Hareshaw Linn waterfall.
The combined Tyne flows from the convergence point at Warden Rock, which is an area where barbel (some sort of fish thing) were introduced in the 80’s and are now thriving in the Tyne. It then flows on to Corbridge then out of Northumberland and into Tyne & Wear where it divides Gateshead and Newcastle for 13 miles, in the course of which it is spanned by 10 bridges. On it goes eastwards dividing Hebburn and Jarrow on the South bank, Wallsend and Walker on the North, finally flowing between Tynemouth and South Shields and into the North Sea.
Due to the surrounding coalfields in the North East the Tyne was a major route for the export of coal from the 13th century until the decline of the coal mining industry in the second half of the 20th century. There is still evidence of that history, especially with the dramatic wooden staithes (a structure for loading coal onto ships) at Dunston, built in 1890, having been preserved.
The Port of Tyne still imports coal, and other goods, as well as operating a daily service between the Port of Tyne International Passenger Terminal at North Shields and Ijmuiden, near Amsterdam since 1995. The lower reaches of the Tyne were, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the world’s most important centres of shipbuilding, and there are still shipyards in South Shields and Hebburn to the south of the river.
At 73 miles long, there’s plenty to see and photograph, some of which you can see on a previous post HERE.
A couple of interesting facts about the Tyne,
The River Tyne started to cut its course about 30 million years ago. The land mass of Britain was rising from the sea, in which chalk rocks had been laid down during the previous Cretaceous period, providing the eastward-tilting ‘proto-landscape’ upon which the River Tyne began to carve its valley, entirely removing the softer cover of chalk rocks.
Nothing definite is known of the origin of the designation Tyne, nor is the river known by that name until the Saxon period: Tynemouth is recorded in Anglo-Saxon as Tinanmuðe.
So here is the convergence, to the left, the South Tyne, and to the right, The North.
and that’s the end of that day out! Stay tooned for our next outing, to Raby Castle, and The Bowes Museum!