Thursday, 29 September 2011

Guano shed

The other day I rode to see a ruined Guano shed, that lies just south of Alnmouth.

The building dates from the 18th century, Guano was imported as a fertiliser, and because of its smell it was stored as far as possible from the harbour (goodness knows how the sailors coped on the voyage). But in 1806 a fierce storm caused the river Aln to change direction. Alnmouth church and cemetery were cut off from the village, and Alnmouth harbour silted up. After that the Guano shed was re-used as a barn.

It would be nice to describe this as being a bit of a sh*t destination. But that wouldn't be right, although there's not much left of the shed. Even the bit of roof mentioned in the official listing seems to have disappeared. The location is interesting though. It should be possible to scramble over the high dunes to reach the beach (I didn't attempt this). There are fine views of Alnmouth over the estuary. You can still see quite clearly where the old course of the river has silted up. There is also a view of a ruined chapel that was built in an attempt to re-open the cemetery on Church Hill after the river changed course.

Alnmouth from south of the river
From a personal point of view this has satisfied a long-standing itch. I've been visiting Alnmouth since I was knee-high to a thrupenny bit, I've looked over the river many times, and wondered what it was like on the other side. But I'd never been there. And now I have.

National Cycle Route 1 runs parallel to the A1068 between Warkworth and Lesbury. Just north of the turning to High Buston there is a track that leads east to the dunes. This has a pretty rough surface, and I wouldn't suggest riding it on a highly tuned road bike. But it was OK on a touring bike, and it should be fine on anything with a bit of suspension. The map is here, but you can see more of the ruins, dunes and beach from a satellite (the row of dots along the back of the beach are anti-tank defences from WW-II)

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