4 October 2011--I walk north along the beach this morning, intending a shorter and easier walk than yesterday's. Bamburgh
Castle is the target, three miles or so along. I visited the castle some years ago and feel no need to go in again. The
19th-century industrialist William Armstrong purchased and restored it for use as a summer residence; the Armstrong family
still owns it. As I recall, the place was jammed with Armstrong's vast collection of medieval German armament, and the walls hung
with a multitude of portraits of extremely homely women. I remember thinking that they must have been very unattractive indeed, given
that the portraitist must have been doing his best to flatter them.
Bamburgh may not be my favorite castle to visit, but it is an extraordinarily striking presence, looming over the beach on its pedestal of basalt.
It's still early, and I'm feeling pretty good, so I keep on past the castle to Budle Bay, where I watch a group of parasailers for a while before cutting up through the golf course toward the village. I've driven by here several times without ever noticing the village itself. I have lunch and a pint at the Castle Hotel, and then pass through the dunes to the beach for the return walk to Seahouses. The GPS marks eleven and a half miles when I'm done. I've raised a pretty good blister on my heel, same one as last year, earned on the same coast. Thought the boots were better broken in than that. Stop in the pharmacy for blister plasters.
No dinner tonight--lunch was late and filling. I settle in for a few pints of the lovely Alnwick IPA at the Olde Ship. While I'm not much impressed with the pub's kitchen, I have to say it's a really nice place for a pint. Unfortunately, I haven't taken any photos of the place--the past two nights, it's been too busy, and tonight, when the place unexpectedly empties out, I don't have my camera with me. I've been in a thousand nautically-themed pubs, with framed knots and polished brass fixtures lining the walls, and most of them feel pretentious and phony. I'm not sure why this one doesn't. Maybe it's the sheer density of brass, or maybe it's just that it's a good honest pub, and the decor is secondary. Looking closely at the walls behind the clutter, I can see plainly that the dark wood paneling is actually particle board with painted-on grain. Somehow it doesn't matter.
Seahouses itself, like the pub, has taken ahold of me in a way I struggle to explain. There isn't really all that much to it, but I know I'll be back. A long walk on the beach is a simple thing, but an extremely alluring one, especially when you know there's a good pint and a kipper at the other end.