Growing up in the North East of England was great. I lived by the sea in a semi rural village which was surrounded by farmers fields and a dene with a small river running through. It was and still is a lovely place to visit. Until moving out for Uni I had lived in that village all my life and my parents continued to live there. However, this is all changing, they are moving out of the village, selling up their business and moving on to retire in the Scottish Borders. I took one last weekend down there which coincided with a week in my training where I was required to run 22miles.
I decided to run a route that would take in most of my childhood haunts and other places that I grew up knowing. This is the account of that run – you may not be interested in this but it will serve as a reminder for me.
The village, by the way, is Seaton Sluice. Off I went in a northerly direction up the coast towards Blyth. This was one of the first routes I used to run when I was 15. I got into running when a lady who worked in the Pub I lived above started running and I would go out with her. She was running to lose weight, I started running as I had nothing better to do and it sounded great! I loved it then. But my distance was small. I would run up to a farm on the coastal road and turn back which was exactly 3 miles. So running this way was great as obviously I had come a long way since those days.
Passing the farm you then get to the outskirts of Blyth or South Beach where the cemetary is located. Here my Grandparents and their family are all buried. I hadn’t actually set out to run to see the grave but I thought I hadn’t been there in such a long time and wouldn’t be going back any time soon so I took the opportunity to see it. So I ran there, spent a couple of minutes pondering lots of thoughts that I won’t go into here.
Running on I turned inland and took a turn onto an old disused railway line which was now a lovely treelined path. The sun was coming through the trees and I could see all along to the coast over the fields. I was the only one here. This path isn’t walked too often as there were loads of nettles which I managed to run into and get stung on the knee and hand. This gave me something else to think about for a while rather than thinking about running.
Into New Hartley I hurtled through the village and crossed the ‘Avenue’ and onto the dismantled railway again. When I was a kid this used to be the boundary to where I was allowed to go by myself, and also used to be where we’d end up on long walks through the dene. This path eventually enters North Tyneside and Whitley Bay. When I got better at running we would end up using this route as a circular route from Seaton Sluice, it would be about 6 mile in total so again not too far compared to what I am now running.
Entering Whitley Bay I started remembering how this place has changed since I was a kid. Whitley Bay turns into Cullercoats and eventually Tynemouth, Passing the church where we used to have Harvest Festival at school, passing the School I went to and eventually onto the coast. Looking over the mighty North Sea is the church at Cullercoats – St Georges where we used to go for our school choir concerts and end of year services. The front at Tynemouth was also the start of our cross country. This was dreaded by many but secretly I loved it. I didn’t want to love it too much otherwise they would have made me compete so I never went flat out and never showed my true potential. That was until the final year when I decided I would and I came in 1st beating all the guys who had been chosen for the county, though I’m sure when they were running a proper race they would have beat me hands down.
Running on I was getting tired, my feet started hurting on the tops – I think it is a lace problem. Continuing up the coast back toward Whitley Bay this was the 10 mile route I ran when I got better and when I was training for my first Great North Run. This route was also where I used to drive to school so I know it like the back of my hand. The pubs along the route had changed hands and names over the years and the road layout had also been changed with loads of amusements in Whitley BAy being knocked down as part of the regeneration plans. The white spanish city is still there looking over the promenade. Again loads of memories were had here.
Further up the coast I would run past the cremetorium where we’d held the cremation services for the other set of grandparents. And running through the dene on the way home I ran past the place where I used to walk our dogs with my grandad. Lots of memories here and a great place to finish right below the Pub where I spent the last 6 years of my youth before moving to Uni.
The run was fun but it was made more enjoyable by visiting these old haunts and places where memories are held.