It’s Monday, my usual day for a walk. Do you fancy a stroll? I’m starting out today on the banks of the River Wear at Sunderland. Ship building used to be the mainstay of this area, till foreign competition priced us out of the market. For a lot of years nothing much happened around here, but gradually life is creeping back in.
The National Glass Centre blazed a trail and it is the start and end point of my walk. At the river mouth a small marina huddles against that sometimes biting north east breeze. In its absence, this is a very pleasant stroll, with some quirky sculptures along the way.
What can I tell you about Sunderland? I expect you’ve heard of Geordies, people who hail from Newcastle-on-Tyne, but have you heard of Mackems? The name Mackem (‘make them’) may have derived from the Wearside shipyard workers, who would design and build ships, which would then be taken by the Tyne-siders. The expression “mackem and tackem” (make them and take them) seems to refer to the rivalry which has always existed between these two cities.
Beyond the marina the river mouth opens onto the beach front at Roker, newly made over.
This area is not without its admirers. Lewis Carroll wrote some of his works in neighbouring Whitburn and local landmarks are believed to be the source of inspiration for his “Alice in Wonderland”. The painter, L.S. Lowry, regularly stayed at the Seaburn Hotel, here on the front.
The promenade stretches off into the distance and you can walk as far as you like. Buses run all along the coast so, if you overdo it, you can always hop on a bus back to Sunderland centre. I think we may have walked far enough for this morning, so it’s time to retrace our steps, and maybe pick up an icecream en route. A short detour through pretty Roker Park will bring you back down to the beach.
The National Glass Centre has a very nice riverfront restaurant where you can take some refreshments, and maybe fit in a free tour of the glass factory. I love glass blowing. Don’t you? But more of that next time.