In Footsteps of St Bede

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LOVELY SCENERY: The views from the Cleadon Hills in South Tyneside

THE final Launchpad walk before Christmas took us back to an old favourite: Bede’s Way.

This route can be followed from Jarrow to Sunderland. I have walked this landscape so many times, in every season. One of the great pleasures about walking is that each one is unique. It has its own ‘flavour’, ‘feel’. Each has a pleasing sense of journey. Rather like a good story, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

From East Boldon Metro station, David and I followed a disused wagonway south. This was all new terrain for David, and he quickly commented at just how rural the setting was. I was in full agreement. Here we were in the heart of South Tyneside and there was open countryside everywhere.

Winter days can have a certain stark beauty. That was the certainly the case, as we followed Bede’s Way, climbing the Cleadon Hills.  A small white ball of a sun behind ragged, rushing clouds, silhouetted near-by summits and Penshaw Monument, some miles to the South-West. And beyond that, under a burst of sunshine, hills glowing bright. We climbed on, leaves crunching under our boots. In fact there were leaves everywhere, lying piled up against trees, or swirling in the breeze, a constant, gentle rustling.

After lunch at the New Ship Inn, we took to the trail again, following Bede’s Way higher and higher. The Cleadon Hills has two iconic landmarks: The Victorian water pumping station and, on the very summit, an early 19th century mill. David and I stopped near the water pumping station for  a break. The tall, distinctive, red tower can be seen for miles around.

From here, it was a relaxed walk back to East Boldon Metro station. So ended another very enjoyable Launchpad wander – with those views from the hill to remember!