We really wanted to see Durham Cathedral today, but the guided tours did not start until 1pm, so we took our host’s advice and visited the nearby North Sea coast first.
We started at Seaham harbour,
but there was not a lot to see there, so we continued past Sunderland to the Souter Lighthouse, a very prominent and well-kept National Trust structure notable in that it was (allegedly) the first electric lighthouse in the world. We walked through lovely meadow to the cliffs to see a colony of seabirds perched atop a pillar of rock just metres offshore.
the fog horn
Our next stop was only several kilometres further north, in South Shields (the south bank of the mouth of the River Tyne). We again walked through a huge meadow by the sea to reach the cliffs. Here an old local prompted us to look out for a porpoise.
Drats! Only pre-booked tours on Sunday. Not only that, but a significant portion of the cathedral was roped off. Worst of all, photography was not allowed, the first time we have come across this in England. That’s a shame because some of the windows were quite beautiful.
To console myself, I paid to climb the 325 steps of the tower in order to hurl myself off the top out of disappointment. Interestingly, there was a defibrillator device half way up the climb. The view was good, but it reinforced the impression that Durham is quite a small place.