Northumberland Stories and Tips

Ambling to Amble

Coquet Island from Amble Photo, Northumberland, England

Our second day's hike took us from Druridge Bay Country Park north, past the birding centre in the dunes at Hauxley Nature Reserve and onto the market coastal town of Amble.

Amble owes its roots to being a good spot to export coal from the Northumberland coalfields (alas no longer operating) and grew in the 1900s. Today, it is a slightly depressed town of around 6,000 people dependent largely on fishing and tourism.

The town has a rather bizarre slogan; "Friendliest Port", which apparently derives from the 1930s when the town sent a friendly telegram message to the aging and soon to be broken up RMS Mauretania as it passed by on its final voyage.

The delights of Amble have passed me by in the past, and our entrance from the south of the town wasn't too positive with its crumbling empty paddling pool on display in the unloved and underutilized park. A couple of unkempt dogs hung around looking bored; it seemed that many of the humans might have moved on.

Thankfully that was about the only negative part to my brief visit to Amble. On the way into the town we passed by its array of piers forming a U around a harbour area. While perhaps a little old and run down, I liked the symmetry of the structure and wished for better light. I also spotted keen anglers on the pier many of whom were chatting to each other about the days catch and whatever else caught their fancy giving it a homely air.

Sunday in summer is Market Day and on entry to the town we were soon swept away with looking at the various stalls. It was good to see a market that catered for a full week's shop; fruit, fresh vegetables, household goods and a very good meat and fish stall. The latter in particular caught my fancy with its huge seafood platters for £5 and 3 bags of prawn for £5 offers.

The market was actually large enough for our party to lose each other, and we spent rather longer than we anticipated at the market wandering around, until one of us had the sense to stand still and wait for the others to catch up!

Amble town centre itself is an attractive looking solid stone built place with a couple of attractive looking local pubs for lunch and a pit stop of you wish, and a small corner shop if you need provisions.

Out to sea you can see the lighthouse on Coquet Island. The island is now a nature reserve and you can take a boat out there during summer months. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't quite boating weather when we were there (none too warm). The lighthouse is a great marker for hikers to appreciate just how far they have travelled, and we were impressed by the end of day 2, how far behind us it was.

I wouldn't describe Amble as the visitors dream destination, but it is pleasant enough and we enjoyed our hike through the town.

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