Northumberland – Bamburgh

[ Photo Blog #56 ]

The coast of Northumbria on the North-East of England bordering with Scotland is atmospheric and highly impressive.  It was described by Janet Street Porter on ITV’s ‘Britain’s Best View’ as having ‘a coastline ravaged by nature and steeped in history.  There’s a story round every single corner … you’re not just looking at a view, you’re standing in the footsteps of kings, and all on one of the most dramatic coastlines nature has to offer.’ 

Bamburgh Map

I have visited many times, usually on the way to or from my tours of Scotland.  For me, one of the highlights of a visit to this part of the country is the small town of BAMBURGH. The following photographs I took there in 2003 on one of these visits when I stayed in this historic town for several days.

Bamburgh is a stunningly attractive small town within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   In fact it is even perhaps just a village, with a population of only about  450.  It is dominated by its magnificently imposing Castle, once the seat of the former Kings of Northumbria, that can be seen for miles around.  It would be hard not to be impressed by the sheer size of the Castle and there is so much to tell about its long and amazing history.  On the seaward side of the castle and town there are impressive stretches of pure golden sandy beaches with rolling sand dunes and views across the sea to both the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and to the Farne Islands.   The town also houses a museum dedicated to its great heroine, Grace Darling.

To read the story of Grace Darling and of how her heroism caught the attention of the Victorian public, click on this link . . .   The Story Of Grace Darling


Bamburgh Castle from the North Sea shore


Looking eastwards towards the castle from the town


The defensive landward side walls of Bamburgh Castle in the evening sun


The seaward walls of Bamburgh Castle from the seashore


Looking north to the castle across the coastline dunes


The beach of the North Sea at Bamburgh


Looking eastwards across the North Sea from the sand dunes


Driftwood marker on Bamburgh beach


The Bamburgh Sandman (See my earlier blog of October 29th 2016 at: The SANDMAN   )


This elaborate cenotaph commemorates the life of the early 19th Century lifeboat heroine, Grace Darling, who is buried nearby.


Bamburgh rooftops and castle battlements outlined against the rising sun


The Castle at Sunrise 


Sunrise over the North Sea from Bamburgh




Bamburgh Castle . . . Pen and Wash – WHB:  2014   ©





The Children – Dartmouth


      Children have their own well defined idea of the future.
For them it is Christmas, morning, birthday,
tomorrow, tonight.
Beyond that all is optimism.

      I am leaving my first job today.
The future is an intimidating prospect.
The unknown, as in Conrad’s novels,
can only be evil, malignant, oppressive.

 *     *     *

But for me!  This is an end.
The corpse of tomorrow,
The bones, the dust of ‘then’.
They kill me now
They live in my past
And corrode my future
For nothing decays the mind like knowledge.

And the future?
It is strangling me now. Rigid in its clutch;
Still and expiring
It holds me, stifles me.
Like a taut spring it pulls me to destruction.

And is that innocence?  The present?
If the future is experience,
the corrosive element, something to fly from,
It must be.
And I am in both.
The future of these children, the experience
They move unwittingly towards.
Victims of life’s great confidence trick.

But who is in my future?
Who is regretting me now?
And has done what I am yet to do?
For I must go to meet him (her?).
There, is my standing still –
Only the slow death from birth.

    * * *

Why the sudden silence? They know what’s to come.
And I don’t.
That is, they think they do.

      * * *

It happened that this was the end of the line
It happened that this began the day.

Finished at last
What had begun.

What had begun had ended now
– And I am glad.

– For the end but not the beginning.

      * * *

10 to 9. Just a day to go
They’ll give me something I know.
And that will really mean the end.
For what I have done?
Because it is done?!
And the class?  Yes. They’ll give me something too
– As they’ll have been told to do.

Jay?  Ponting?  Do I notice
A tinge of wistful sadness and regret
In those affirmatives?
Do I imagine I’ve done that for them?
Made them anticipate the regret of their futures?
A tick for the end. (That would have been something to mark the end)

They live in the here and now – and for it.
For what is happening, is.  What has happened –
Was.  For some of them.
The innocence of ignorance.
What is yet to happen separates boy from man.
For the future teaches them
Because it means nothing.
To them.

I only know that I don’t know –
Only an end.

“For you sir – Thank you – From us all”

. . .  “I like it”.

    * * *

Sic transit . . .
      Their future is complete
      Mine but beginning
      . . . and thus the child fathers the man.


Contemplating The Future – Bamburgh,

I composed the above lines, many years ago, when I was about to leave for another post after my first four years as a young teacher of young children.   For me, the ‘future’ arrived, and now has almost gone.   I wonder how the future turned out for all of my pupils.   Perhaps some of them are now reading this blog?  

The photographs were taken by me in Devonshire and Northumbria, U.K.