Summer Walk Report No 12, St Marys Island, Whitley Bay - Tuesday 12th August 2014.

St Marys Lighthouse at Whitley bay was the focus of attention this week as members gathered for the latest Tuesday
evening walk on the Camera Club Summer Programme. Walk number twelve saw us leave the south car park on the links
road and make our way down to the promenade before heading north along the coastline. At this time the tide was in
and the plan was to walk to Currys Point, photograph the island lighthouse from the mainland and then later cross the
causeway when the tide fell.


The eleven previous walks on the programme had been held in fine weather but as dark clouds loomed overhead and
the odd spot of rain fell it appeared that our luck had run out, however the hardy group of nine continued as the shower
soon passed, things brightened up and those present started looking for images.


Walking into the sandy bay opposite the island, members captured movement in the water, colour and texture in the
rocks and seaweed, two wet suited sports divers entering the sea, as well as the classic lighthouse shot. By this time
the outgoing tide had uncovered the causeway and we crossed to explore the island and have a closer view of the
popular landmark.


Work to build the lighthouse started in 1896 and at one hundred & twenty feet tall it is an impressive structure when
standing at the base. Converted from paraffin to electricity in 1977 it was one of the last Trinity House lighthouses to
be automated in 1982. Another strange fact about the light is that it was actually camouflaged during the second world
war, being painted pale green, blue and brown. In 1984 it was de-comissioned and taken out of service as modern ship
navigational aids meant it was no longer required. It was then purchased by North Tyneside council and is now a visitor
attraction, with museum, shop, cafe and education centre.
The island and surrounding area is also a designated nature reserve comprising of rock pools, beach, freshwater ponds
and the clifftop grassland. There is a rich variety of marine life with resident and migrating sea birds. As some of the
group photographed the buildings others were a bit more adventurous and were rewarded after climbing over the wet
and slippy sandstone rocks to find a grey seal pup resting in a sheltered spot on the island, whilst another seal pup
bobbed around in the water. Camera Club members then returned to the shore after another interesting visit.

                                                                                                                                           Davy Bolam.