Club Walk, Wansbeck Riverside Park, Ashington - Tuesday 11th July 2017.

        

The first walk on the Morpeth Camera Club Summer Programme took place on Tuesday 11th July 2017 at the Wansbeck
Riverside Country Park, near Ashington. A fine evening saw an excellent turn out as sixteen of us gathered for a gentle
stroll around a venue not previously visited as a club. Leaving the Sheepwash car park, the aim on the evening was to
walk along the north bank and follow the river in an easterly direction.

This part of the River Wansbeck, especially the mile between the Sheepwash & Steakford bridges is very picturesque and
well suited for water activities. Camera Club members were soon photographing several passing boats from the nearby
Cambois Rowing Club. As the boat crews practised their rowing & sculling skills on the calm waters, rowing club trainers
cycled alongside on the footpath issuing instructions and advice.

Mallards, Moorhens and several gaggles of Canada Geese were encountered and obviously used to passing visitors both
on and off the water, as we made our way east to Stakeford Bridge. This bridge carries the A196 road from Stakeford to
Ashington. Built in 1994 this concrete structure is of a design typical of that time, practical but unattractive. The footpath
took us under the bridge where a sculptured mural of the area can be seen carved into the east support pier.

Members paused for a rest and chat outside the rowing club and a grey heron kept a close watch before flying off.

The next item of photographic interest was The Black Bridge, a huge fourteen span, plate girder railway bridge built in
1926 for the London and North East Railway. Now painted battleship grey, the bridge is 1042 feet in length, just under
100ft high and carries the Blyth & Tyne freight only railway line over the river.

Our route took us under this bridge as we followed the footpath through a small wooded area before returning to the
riverside. Here the river broadens in width and it is this area that was once tidal mudflats before the barrage was built
near the mouth of the river. A small nature reserve called Castle Island, can be seen in the centre of the river, this island
attracts a huge variation of birdlife throughout the year and is popular with local twitchers. It was the barrage and its
subsequent ability hold the water in the river that led to the creation of the Wansbeck Riverside Park as a leisure area
for walking, cycling, running and water activities, whilst retaining a safe habitat for wildlife.

        

The return walk back to our starting point ended a pleasant evening in good company and hopefully a few images taken
on the night will be shared in the near future. Thank you to all who attended.

Davy Bolam.