Just after the road takes a ninety degree bend by Seahouse to run south along to the coast a cattle grid rattle announces the view as the road dips down towards Cocklawburn Beach. At this point the road stands above a low cliff sloping down to the beach and next to the path of an older road which ends in sudden storm-bitten cliff edge. The long sandy beach is skirted by low tidal reefs of rock in angled sea-pointing rows just below at Saltpan Rocks and gently curving shelves to the south at Near Skerrs.
In the middle distance another beach and another skirt of rock, that of Middle Skerr and then Far Skerr, lie next to a low headland with the crumbling remains of a lime kiln. Nearby and just inland the brutal rectangle of a World War II gun emplacement sits at the top of a long shelving slope leading toward the limekiln.
Here the first back-beach dunes sputter into life broken by small headlands next to the Near and Far Skerrs and beyond roll into a continuous diminutive mountain range that leads the eye all the way to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Here in the distant low lying landscape two dark black hills draw the eye. To the left is a fort and its heugh on Lindsifarne, to the right, the crags and castle at Bamburgh.
This is one of my favourite views in Northumberland. Its form and scale are stunning, and with the continuous roll and roar of the sea and the ever changing light it always quickens my pulse.
It is also a view that encompasses all of the principle elements that have formed Northumberland’s coastal landscape. Time spent looking at the history and pre-history of the beach, dwelling on the details that can be seen in the rocks and hidden on the headlands and amongst the dunes has proved to be one of the most rewarding things I have done in Northumberland.
This then is a starting point, a window opening taster to seduce you into exploring this extraordinary place, and if you know about it already, to come back and look at it again and again. The place seems to have an unending supply of new discovery to make every trip worth the while.