Well I saw a few images of the sea stack and rock arch just off Lizard Point on which Souter Lighthouse stands at Whitburn (note: several images mistakenly call the point Souter Point – which is further south and seems to have its own arches). So I started to look for any information on access but couldn’t find anything on the internet! As the tide was going out with a low tide at 1028 and sunrise was 0822 I thought well it can’t be that hard … oh dear. Looking at satellite images on google maps there seemed to be a path down to the beach (Byer’s Hole) which is to the south of the beach on which Lizard Point is at the North end  (this beach is not named on OS maps) – still with me. So off I went and got there at 0715 (ended going through South Shields due signs at the Tyne Tunnel – needed the A1300).

Fishermen at Byer’s Hole near Soutter Lighthouse Well the lighthouse car park on the map had a gate which was closed – so I parked across the road (see map below). Entering the gate on foot there was a tarmac path just behind the gate which I followed (it was pitch black but I had a head torch). At the end I went to the cliff edge and turned right and there was the path! By now it about 0730 so 3 hours from low tide (last new moon was 2 days ago so its a spring tide). On the beach (Byer’s Hole)  I went north towards the point and met a fisherman he said he’d never gone round the point as you could get caught by the tide and didn’t know any other way into the next bay. So I had a look at the point and the tide was too high. As a consequence I spent the next 20 minutes exploring the cliff top in the dark – there is no way down. I headed back to Byer’s Hole and met Craig McNair we got down to looking at the sunrise and taking a few shots from the cliff top.

Sunrise from point South of Byer's Hole near Souter Lighthouse W       Souter Lighthouse and Arch at Lizard Point from point South of

Sunrise from point South of Byer's Hole near Souter Lighthouse W

When we had finished it was about 0900 so I set off to see if I could get round the point. The fisherman was still there, eating some sandwiches! Yes it was just possible to get round climbing the low rocks (the higher rocks look OK but they are not on the other side) so I had 1.5 hours to low tide – therefore at least 3 hours. For those wanting to do this you need to understand the tide tables – the tidal height was 1.4m from datum (I think 1.5-1.6m is minimum to get round if you balance a bit on the rocks rather than wade) and low tide was going to be 0.8m from datum and it was two days after a new moon. Please understand the tides or you will be trapped I could see no way out further up the beach. The climb round the point wasn’t hard but there was about 30cm of water to wade at one point (you need wellies). The walk North up the beach was easy the rock not at all slippy and the arch at these tidal heights was easy accessed. I was back at Byer’s Hole by 1030 and could walk easier round the point.

I had set off with the hope of a sunrise through the arch – I don’t believe this is possible at any time of the year but have seen one which is perhaps 30 minutes after sunrise and in July – I think it must be one arches of the two further south [note 14-01-2013: checked it is the further south one ... so it is not possible]? But none the less pleased with the 100 shots I took and the few I selected, it was fun to explore – a great morning ;-)

Stacks and Arch at Lizard Point below Souter Lighthouse, Whitbur
Inside the Arch at Lizard Point below Souter Lighthouse, Whitbur

  • Update 08 Feb 2013: went back to Lizard Point poor day but route update in this blog
  • Update 09 Feb 2013: went back to Lizard Point again see blog

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