Friday, 25 September 2015

Sunny Seaside Cycle To St.Helens

It's been over a week since I rode this ride, so I think it's high time I put fingers to keyboard & get this post done once & for all !

Last Wednesday was a cracking sunny day with a nice gentle refreshing breeze & you can now smell the difference in the air of the changing seasons. I thought since it was such a sunny day that I'd take a trip along the coastal cliff tops eastwards to the Cove & beyond to enjoy the views & fill my lungs with the salty smell rising from the sea... off I went.

Leaving Innerwick via the Market Road, along a farm track to Crowhill farm, crossing the A1 & it wasn't long before I was entering the sands of Thorntonloch beach.

Upon entering the beach through the marram grass covered dunes I firstly looked along to my left to see a group of bird watchers looking out to the rocks by the water outlet of Torness power station, they seemed very focused on what they were looking at & looking to my right of which direction I was going in I could only see one other person on this huge beach, an old guy on a quad bike picking up what driftwood he could find for the fire.
I was intending to ride along the cliff top trail of the John Muir link path but as the tide was out I opted to cycle along the beach instead.

It was a nice easy cycle along the hard sand which soon turned to a rock covered beach, a bit more difficult to ride on but it gives me more time to look at the amazing rock formations along the bottom of the cliffs like the ones above, layer upon layer of sediment turned to rock, it must of taken thousands if not millions of years to create & I suppose to the trained eye each layer will tell a story in time.

Carrying on along this very quiet & secluded beach safe in the knowledge that the tide was still well out so I was safe for a while. I like to look for sea treasure along here as it's such an unpopular beach to see any other soul so you often find interesting items washed up, but nothing interesting so far today.

Arriving at the first of the 3 arches & the stand alone stone sea stack, which is always an interesting place to explore & every time I come down here I'm half expecting the first arch to of collapsed as there's not much holding it up now. There are a few giant blocks fallen over time but it still stands strong & I enjoyed watching the swifts & swallows for a while having dog fights chasing insects around in the air. Swifts & swallows have nested up under the arch for years.

While looking around the area I spotted these sand eels in a rock pool, I wasn't sure what they were so I asked a facebook friend whose husband is a fisherman for a positive i.d.
 (Thanks Lynsey & Baz).
 There must of easily been around a hundred or so of them but I reckon by the time the tide came in there would be a lot fewer as a grey heron was foraging nearby ? They were around 4"-5" long & looked beautifully coloured in the sunlight, a nice find, so I found sea treasure after all.

The 'Stand Alone Stone' a huge top heavy sea stack which becomes isolated when the tide is in. The rock faces down here are amazing to look at, how the wind & water have carved & sculpted some amazing shapes & patterns through the years.

A bit further along the coast which is much harder to negotiate with the big boulders covered in kelp, I arrived at the other two sea arches, these two arches are conjoined together at a 90 degree angle & appear a bit more substantial than the other that I'd just been to. The way the sun hits these rocks is almost hypnotic, so many different shades of red, pink, orange, yellow & white.

Arriving at Dunglass beach which more often than not you have the place to yourself as I did today & again I love taking time to forage around here, Iv'e found some amazing fossils here in the eroding cliffs & on the ground such as fossilised lepidodendron roots & ancient sea corals. Today I found a small piece of amber but there was no Jurassic park insect locked inside of it !

Leaving Dunglass beach behind & up the sea buckthorn & bramble lined path into the welcoming shade of the broad leaved trees as I near the Cove to follow the cliff top trail of the Berwickshire Coastal Path.

Some great views looking out to see & to the odd rock formations below.

Looking down onto the beautiful & famous Cove harbour as I ride by along the cliff top trail.

Further along the coast & at a headland looking down onto the pristine beach of Pease Bay, a busy place normally with the caravan park & usually busy with surfers & holiday makers, but today the beach looked deserted with only a few people walking along the beach.
From here looking along the coast line I could see the ruins of St. Helens church so I thought I'd take cycle along for a look around there then head back for home.

Elder berries & Himalayan balsam.

Now here's something you don't see everyday ! As I entered the field which to my left is St.Helens church where I'm going & a short walk along to my right which will take me to Siccar Point, the birth place of modern geology & founder James Hutton's unconformity, but here in the middle I came across this field toilet which I have to say was well thought out & well made with the consideration of splinters taken care off courtesy of a proper toilet seat !! The privacy screen must of blown away though :-/
But if you sitting there on that log throne you would of had a fantastic view back along the coast so you would not need to read a newspaper while doing your business !

St. Helens once known as the Church of Aldcambus hence the name of it's location Old Cambus. The churches earliest parts have Saxon (AD600) characteristics but it's official listing is as a Norman (post-1066) structure. Artefacts found nearby include an ancient rosary & coins, some dated to the reign of Athelstan or Edelstan the Great (AD895-940).

St. Helens is surrounded by a small graveyard which fell into disuse partly on account of the resurrectionists who made a profession of stealing corpses. The last burial was about 1840 but the whole site remains neglected today.
Two of the oldest stones are now mostly underground, but have been described as modified hog-back, a version of the Scandinavian 'house tombs' of about AD 1000.
It will be worth coming back here during the winter months when the grass has died back a bit & have a better look at the grave stones.

A different route back home via the Pease Dean Wildlife Reserve & I was glad to be back in the shade of the tree's out of the direct sunlight for a short time.

Some new art work under the A1 bridge very colourful it was too.
Passing by Mr. Neeps farm vegetable shop on the way back home which I'll need to visit sometime as the prices are meant to be very good & the produce is really fresh, but I'll give it a miss today until I have the car, don't fancy slogging it out with a sack of tatties over the handlebars.
So that was a nice wee jaunt along the coast & I even picked up a passenger along the route...
...after my post ride coffee when I went for a bath I found a tick burrowing into my thigh ! It was a good opportunity to try out my new tick extractor tool though which worked a treat, the horrible little parasite was out in a flash !
Thanks for chumming me on a daunder along the coast, the next couple of blogs will be a little bit different so pop back soon to see what Iv'e been up to ?
Thanks again for looking & cheers fro now.