Alnmouth is on the coast, east of Alnwick
A pretty coastal village with shops and pubs. A walk along the beach, then back through a golf course. Popular with tourists, so the village can be very busy in summer. This walk is not for the disabled.
Postcode for Satnav - NE66 2RZ
The easiest way to find Alnmouth is from Alnwick town. Drive into Alnwick from the south and climb up a hill until you reach a roundabout. Turn right here onto the A1068, signposted Ashington, almost doubling back on yourself. Follow this road for about 3 miles over a roundabout at Lesbury, then turn right at the next roundabout in Hipsburn, signposted Alnmouth.
In Alnmouth, turn right at the roundabout, then left, as the road through the village centre is one-way. This road goes up a short hill then bends to the right. If you carry straight on, you will reach a large beach car park, for which there is a £3 parking charge for 9 months of the year. This is fine if you intend to spend the day on the beach, but too much for me for an hour's walk. So, carry on the main road into the village where the parking is free. Parking in the summer is difficult, there is some parking in bays by the golf course, then you climb a short hill to a 'T' junction. If you turn left, there is lots of parking as you go down hill, but it does get very busy in the summer.
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Depending on where you managed to park, head for the river estuary or the beach. Assuming that you parked on the hillside, you will find stairways down to the estuary. Turn down river and walk over the sand to the river mouth. Be aware that the river itself is dangerous, as there is a large tidal pool behind the village. The pool empties out or fills up, depending on the tide, and produces strong currents in the river. Now head up the beach past the beach car park, right up to the rocky area. This will be underwater at high tide, of course, but you will also see old wooden corrosion fences near the rocks. Just past here you will find a path that leads up the dunes and onto the golf course.
Take this path and turn right at the top, past the shepherds' huts. The path is clearly marked as it runs past a fairway, just beside a hedge. You then walk up a short hill until you see an old WW2 command post. This was commissioned by the Duke of Northumberland to defend the Aln estuary. At this command post, take the pathway to the left that goes downhill to the links, then turn right and take the path that runs just above the roadway until you reach the village road that you drove along earlier. Turn left and follow the road back to your car, or take one of the side roads on your right up into the village for a pint or a coffee.
If you are a fan of the television series Vera, you might remember the episode set in the seaside village of Mardle. Mardle was largely based on Alnmouth. Vera spent some time on the glass enclosed balcony of one of the large houses that overlook the river estuary. You might remember that Vera was rowed over to an 'island', where she investigated a murder in the ruins of an old building. The 'island' is actually Church Hill, which stands on the other side of the river.
Now the river Aln once flowed around the other side of Church Hill, and the hill, and the church that stood on it, were part of Alnmouth village. However a violent storm hit the coast on Christmas day, 1806, and changed the course of the river Aln, so that the church was cut off from the village.
The earliest probable reference to Alnmouth came from Saint Bede, who wrote about a Synod held on 684 to determine who would be Archbishop of Hexham. He called the location Adtwifyrdi or Adtuifyrdi, which translates to 'at the two fords', and is usually thought to be Alnmouth. The Synod probably took place on Church Hill, on which was found an Anglo-Saxon cross dating to the late 800s.
Alnmouth had its fair share of troubles, sacked by the Scots in the 1300s, occupied by the French during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and bombarded by John Paul Jones in 1779. John Paul Jones is known as the father of the US navy. He fired a cannon ball at the village church which missed, skipped over a field, then demolished a farmhouse roof.
Concerned by the threat of invasion by France, the Duke of Northumberland built a gun battery on Battery hill in 1852 to guard the port, manned by his own Percy Volunteers. This battery was repaired and improved in WW2 as a command post for coastal defence. The battery shot down 2 Junkers Ju 88A bombers in 1941, while the bombing raids killed 7 civilians in the village, and destroyed the village gas works.
Alnmouth was busy port in mediaval times exporting grain and wool produced in the country. Many of the buildings in the village are quite old, an example is the Schooner Hotel, built in the 1600s. Trade moved to the bigger ports with the coming of the railway, but that in turn brought a new source of income, tourism. As far back as Victorian times, people bought or built second homes in the village. There was a holiday camp on the northern edge of the village, with a tea room and beach huts. Alnmouth golf course was established in 1869, one of the oldest in the country. It is though to have been designed by the club's first professional, Mungo Park.
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