Wednesday, 30 December 2009

St Mary's Island

Another bitterly cold day at Whitley Bay. On the seafront, no beach to be seen, just white horses hurling themselves against the promenade wall. We drive to St Mary's Island to see the lighthouse, now retired from active service, but a well-loved landmark. The causeway is submerged under a boisterous sea. I take some photos which turn out better than I'd thought possible in the spray. I ponder how long a swimmer could survive these conditions. Grace Darling, lighthouse-keeper's daughter and local heroine from Bamburgh, just a few miles up the coast, rowed a boat out in seas like these to save desperate passengers from ships wrecked on the rocky coast. They must have been thrilled to see her! A wild wave crashes against the railings and soaks us, so we save our skins and race to the shelter of the car.  
We make our way down the coast to Tynemouth to check if the surfers are mad enough to brave these elements. It turns out they are not mad after all. Although the sea is less ferocious than at the lighthouse, it's still scary and no surfers are chancing it today. Thank goodness!
A very large ferry is easing out of the Tyne into the open sea and huge waves buffer the front of the ship. If I were the pilot, I'd turn back at this point but s/he is obviously made of sterner stuff than me!
Our final  port of call before heading for home is Spanish Battery, where the Tyne flows into the North Sea. Here's another view of the lighthouses that I wrote about earlier in the week. The sea looks deceptively tame.

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