February 24, 2021 4 min read
If 2020 taught us anything, it was to appreciate what we have rather than focusing on what we’re missing. 2020 was defined by loss whether that be the loss of a job, a promotion, or, tragically, a loved one. Experiencing a loss of any kind is challenging and has, sadly, become deeply ingrained in our daily lives, so it is more important than ever to take a step back to appreciate the little things. As 2021 goes on, I have come to the sobering realisation that we are not out of the woods just yet and there is a long road post-Lockdown recovery ahead. For my 2021 resolution, I’m trying to take some extra time to learn to unwind and practice mindfulness. I have found that taking a trip to the beach is a great way to recuperate and take five, with beautiful surroundings and soothing wave sounds that help me to forget my worries if only for a moment.
To assist you with your own mindfulness journey, I have compiled a list of five of my favourite beaches to visit around the North East. I’ve tried to cover as many bases as possible to ensure that at least one can be walking distance from you, but all have nearby parking facilities if you fancy a trip further afield.
Located alongside the beloved Bamburgh Castle, this Northumberland beach is the perfect destination for anyone with dogs as it is dog-friendly all year round and has open sandy planes for plenty of running. The picturesque beach is complemented by the looming stone walls of the beautiful Bamburgh Castle, creating a juxtaposition between manmade and natural wonders. The Castle was initially erected in the 6th Century, with the most current model being completed in the 12th Century. Sitting parallel to the main beach is the Inner Farne Islands which were home to monks from the 7th century right up until the dissolution of the monastery in the 16th century. The crashing waves are perfect for a surf, however, the beach doesn’t get very warm even in the height of the summer- what can you expect so far up North though! I love this beach for its beauty and surroundings, Bamburgh is a stunning part of the world and the somewhat paradoxical components of the surroundings are the perfect combination to help you feel at ease yet still connected.
For me, Seaton Carew beach is symbolic of a time long before us, I often used to visit as a child and found the seaside attractions and long promenade magnetising. Seaton Carew was once an incredibly fashionable holiday destination in the 18th and 19th centuries when train transport was made more accessible. When the Industrial Revolution was at its height the coastline began to evolve, becoming patterned with chimneys, smoke, and lift shafts that led down into the mines. Though such prominent markers of industrial labour may not seem to be the ideal backdrop for mindfulness, I often find it an incredibly poignant reminder of the historical DNA of the North East.
I know I’m definitely biased because this is only a stone's throw away from the location of our lovely Spanish City store, but I would take this quaint cove over Bondi Beach any day. Cullercoats Bay is a delightful crescent-shaped beach that is surrounded by tranquil waters and bordered by two small piers. On a winter’s day, when the beach is deserted, the calm sea and concealed space can make you feel as though you're walking right off the edge of the world. Cullercoats was and still is the epicentre of a thriving fishing industry thanks to the gentle current that offers a hospitable environment for launching fishing boats. The beach is shadowed by a Victorian lifeboat station that is still in regular use, especially during the summer months. This is the perfect beach to bring the whole family for some collective quiet time and has plenty of caves for exploring at low tide. The calm waters make this an ideal location for a solo sunrise swim, but be sure to check that the current is not too strong before going out.
I’m sure that the last thing that comes to mind when you think of this classic holiday destination and the birthplace of Dracula is tranquillity, but Whitby is a tale of two halves. The large beach is separated into the East and West sides with each half as magical as the other. The West Pier proportion of the beach is a British holidaymaker’s dream with open sandy planes that are speckled with bright beach huts and deckchairs, there is even the chance for children to take a donkey ride. The East Pier side is an entirely different story and is sheltered by a sandy cove where people and their dogs can take long, peaceful walks away from the hustle and bustle of the main town. While this beach isn’t as peaceful and isolated as the others on the list, it is enchanting to be desperately close to the chaos of everyday life, yet remain undisturbed and alone.
The hidden gem of South Shields is the beautiful Marsden beach which is best known for the iconic rock formations that sprout from the surrounding sea. The formations of rock are the result of centuries of abrasion and erosion from the sea and are the perfect reminder of the beauty that can stem from destruction. The crevices of the cliff face and eroding surfaces were once the perfect hiding spot for smugglers illegally importing commodities, but they are now home to one of Europe’s two cave bars, Marsden Grotto. There is something incredibly grounding about standing beneath huge lumps of decaying rock, it is a reminder that struggle will forever rewrite our character, but it will never completely destroy us.
The beauty of all of these beaches is the result of hundreds of years of harsh weathering and decay, the shape of the beach is entirely dependent on how it reacts to the impact of the wind, the sea, and the sun. This is something we can all learn from in our quest to accept the tragedies of 2020 and will help us in our attempts to struggle through the next chapter of the pandemic until we emerge on the other side.
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