Hawthorn Hive

This morning I was surprised that The Guardian’s Country Diary was about Chourdon Point on the Durham coast1Gates, P. (2022). Country diary: Fulmars so close, you almost catch their eye. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/05/country-diary-fulmars-so-close-you-almost-catch-their-eye [Accessed 5 Jan. 2022]..

Surprised that I just happened to have planned a run along the coastal path passing by this point. After I met up with someone in nearby Dalton.

Phil Gates, the writer of the piece, describes “the soporific sound of waves slapping against rocks. Fulmars, stiff-winged and silent, glide past the cliff edge“. I thought I’ll have some of that.

I saw two crows the whole time.

The featured image above is looking south from Chourdon Point. Hawthorn Hive is spelt on the 1853 O.S. map as Hawthorn Hythe2Maps.nls.uk. (2022). View map: Durham XXI (includes: Cold Hesledon; Dalton Le Dale; East Murton; Hawthorn.) – Ordnance Survey Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952. [online] Available at: https://maps.nls.uk/view/102341566#zoom=6&lat=4975&lon=13116&layers=BT [Accessed 5 Jan. 2022]., ‘hythe‘ being derived from an old Saxon word for a landing point3Information Point at Nose’s Point (NZ 43695 47874).. This probably indicating usage as a coastal shelter since that time.

The Hive has been the graveyard of many a boat. In 1851, it was reported that a vessel was grounded in the bay4‘VIOLENT STORM ON THE COAST OF DURHAM’ (1851) Daily News, 29 Sep, available: https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/BA3202864567/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=e13af99c [accessed 05 Jan 2022].. A ship named ‘Europa‘ was wrecked off Chourdon Point in 18785‘Wrecked Cargo’ (1878) Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 08 Jun, 3, available: https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/GR3224848309/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=898c3c35 [accessed 05 Jan 2022]..

But the most dramatic occurred on 1st January 1835 when a brig ran aground at Hawthorn Hive. The pilots couldn’t launch from Seaham itself so they hauled their boat over the cliffs, lowered it down into the cove, and successfully attempted to rescue the crew of the brig from there6Information Point at Nose’s Point (NZ 43695 47874)..

Blast Beach or Frenchman’s Cove. In the distance is Nose’s Point.

On the north side of Chourdon Point is Blast Beach, or Frenchman’s Cove as it used to be called before the blast furnaces were built in 1862. It is thought that this earlier name might refer to smuggling activities of the local populace7Information Point at Nose’s Point (NZ 43695 47874)..

The beach began to be dramatically changed in 1907 when Dalton Pit was sunk in 1907 and coal waste started to be dumped directly into the sea at Nose’s Point8Information Point at Nose’s Point (NZ 43695 47874).. The pit closed in 1991, and a lot of effort has gone into cleaning the beach up.

Blast Beach was used as a location for the 1992 science fiction film Alien 3. Here is a clip:

  • 1
    Gates, P. (2022). Country diary: Fulmars so close, you almost catch their eye. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/05/country-diary-fulmars-so-close-you-almost-catch-their-eye [Accessed 5 Jan. 2022].
  • 2
    Maps.nls.uk. (2022). View map: Durham XXI (includes: Cold Hesledon; Dalton Le Dale; East Murton; Hawthorn.) – Ordnance Survey Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952. [online] Available at: https://maps.nls.uk/view/102341566#zoom=6&lat=4975&lon=13116&layers=BT [Accessed 5 Jan. 2022].
  • 3
    Information Point at Nose’s Point (NZ 43695 47874).
  • 4
    ‘VIOLENT STORM ON THE COAST OF DURHAM’ (1851) Daily News, 29 Sep, available: https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/BA3202864567/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=e13af99c [accessed 05 Jan 2022].
  • 5
    ‘Wrecked Cargo’ (1878) Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 08 Jun, 3, available: https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/GR3224848309/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=898c3c35 [accessed 05 Jan 2022].
  • 6
    Information Point at Nose’s Point (NZ 43695 47874).
  • 7
    Information Point at Nose’s Point (NZ 43695 47874).
  • 8
    Information Point at Nose’s Point (NZ 43695 47874).

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