What was initially planned as multiple things - from a trip to a coffee shop - to a walk along Spittal’s Promenade turned into a spontaneous walk from the most north-easterly town in the North East of England to the most northern point in England along a beautiful coastal path.
Walking parallel to the A1 and East Coast Mainline on one side of us, and the North Sea to the other side of us, the journey to the Scottish Border is an insanely beautiful one, especially when the sun is shining, the sea is crystal blue, and the breeze is gently blowing through green and golden fields alike.
Standing at the most northern point in England, and having a picnic break just through the gate in the Scottish Borders, I thought of how this was my friend and I’s second trip walk on the England Coast Path in two days and how walking longer distances was becoming a habit.
For ten years of my life, I used to hike all over Northumberland regularly, with less regular hikes across other parts of the country.
But sadly, life got in the way and that came to an end. When working constantly, time for getting in touch with nature and your surroundings can quickly fade away.
Indeed, it’s been months now since my last full-day hike through the English countryside, but I am, as often as I can, making time for it again.
Living where I live, I count myself extremely lucky. My hometown is slap bang on the England Coast Path and within walking distance of beautiful beaches, landmarks, historic battle sites and more.
In two days, from the Scottish Border to Cocklawburn beach, the England Coast Path treated me to Swifts ducking and diving in the bushes next to me and seals bobbing up and down in the calm and beautiful blue sea.
But it’s far more than that. Throughout my life, I have lived in Northumberland and at every given opportunity, explored what I could.
During a hike from Etal to Donaldson’s Lodge along the River Till back in May, I saw nature at its very best.
Swans sunbathing on muddy riverbanks, deer in the fields standing merely a few feet away from me, squirrels climbing through a variety of beautiful trees and more butterflies and dragonflies than I could count. This was an unspoiled paradise, a utopia of peace and serenity that I fell in love in my younger years and has never left me since.
But travel even further and you see the land dripping with history. You have, to name only a couple of things, the Flodden battlefield site in Branxton which once saw a major English victory over the Scots in 1513 and Berwick-upon-Tweed, a small market town with a very bloody history, having changed hands between England and Scotland thirteen times.
All of that barely even scratches the surface of what we have on our doorsteps in the north, as I have only covered a small part of North Northumberland. In truth, there is so much more stretching from the west in Cumbria to the south of the North in Yorkshire.
For me to say that this beauty is only applicable to the North would be a lie. I have no doubt the Middle and South of England have unique beauty like this in their countryside, they are just areas I have yet to properly explore.
But for all of us living here in the North of England, we are lucky. We live in a place that is oozing history and culture and that has some of the most beautiful surroundings in the country – in my humble and biased opinion.
We cannot let this go to waste, we must all make time in our busy lives to get in touch with the stunning and diverse countryside that we are so fortunate to have and appreciate the beauty on our northern doorsteps.