Heading north from Whitburn, it is worth stopping off to view Marsden Rock, a sea stack which is home to colonies of sea birds such as Cormorants and Kittiwakes. There is a National Trust footpath from the bay here into South Shields. On reaching South Shields, we come to the mighty River Tyne, and with it the easternmost vestiges of the Roman presence which existed in these parts, the best known of which is Hadrian’s Wall, built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian as part military fortification, part customs barrier. Where South Shields now stands, the remains of the Roman fort of Arbeia have been uncovered. The excavations revealed the foundations of granaries that once supplied the troops stationed on the Wall. There have been sightings of ghostly Roman soldiers at the site of the fort. Moving forward in time, during the 9th century, the area was subjected to raids by the Vikings. The town’s economic past has been shaped in turns by fishing, shipbuilding and coalmining.
Today, South Shields is a popular seaside resort, with a pier, South Pier, stretching out a mile into the sea and two sandy beaches, Littlehaven Beach and Sandhaven Beach. Among the seafront attractions is the Dunes Adventure Island, a multi-purpose complex with activities for all the family. The seafront parks offer a boating lake and a miniature steam railway. The film director Ridley Scott was born in South Shields, as was Monty Python member Eric Idle.
For a list of events in South Shields and the surrounding area, see here.
Map of the area.