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Written by Brian Carter - 08 Feb 2005
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Location notes
The North Blyth branch is a freight-only line in south east Northumberland, branching off the main Blyth and Tyne line south of Ashington. It previously used to also serve Blyth Power Station and Cambois (pronounced "Cammus") depot. The nearest towns are Blyth and Ashington, with Morpeth and Newcastle not far away.
Railway type and traffic
Loaded and empty alumina (aluminium ore) from North Blyth to Lynemouth (a few miles north) and Fort William. There are two round trips on the branch each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (not Saturdays), although the actual detail of these 'Blyth shunts' as they are known locally changes from time to time.
Environment
At the side of a busy single carriageway road (the A189 'Spine Road') on a bridge high above the railway and a parallel road. You are not in a built up area, but there is a substantial pavement with crash barriers as this is the offical pedestrian route across the railway.
Road directions
Leave the A189 at the East Sleekburn turn (when heading north, this is just before the dual carriageway goes single; when heading south it is after crossing the River Wansbeck and then the railway line). Take the road west towards West Sleekburn, and after about half a mile turn right (it is the first right turn); this road ends up running beside the railway line. Park under or near the Spine Road overbridge and use the steps or ramp up to the bridge.

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Blyth, near Freemans LC, - from A189 Spine Road map co-ordinates
Parking
Park on the road underneath the bridge. You can see it from above.
Public transport
There is a limited local bus service.

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Amenities
Nearest amenities are in Stakeford, Bedlington Station or Ashington.
Accommodation
Try Ashington, Blyth, Morpeth or Newcastle. There is at least one national chain motel on the A189 to the south.
Sun Compass
Sun Compass using Suncalc by brought to you by Vladimir Agafonkin:
It might be necessary to adjust the time to suit your visit, this link should open with the current day.
Blyth, near Freemans LC, - from A189 Spine Road

Googly map
Streetmap links
Blyth, near Freemans LC, - from A189 Spine Road general view map
Blyth, near Freemans LC, - from A189 Spine Road close up map

Windows Local Live Link - image quality may vary
Blyth, near Freemans LC, - from A189 Spine Road



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Photographic notes
The line runs roughly West North West - East South East and there are shots in both directions (but do not cross the road as it is very busy with lorries hurtling past at 60mph or more - go down to the road below and back up again). There are no real problems with shadows except when the sun is very low.
The shot looking west is best done with a medium to long telephoto lens; the sun will move off the nose at around lunchtime. The shot looking east can be done with any length lens, although using a telephoto brings in Freemans Level Crossing and its signalbox. The sun is on the nose from about lunchtime.
Videoing would be great (you get a good view both ways) if it were not for the noise of heavy traffic!


General views - All photographs © Brian Carter unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking west


Fig 1 - Looking west

At about 10am in late December, using a 200mm lens. A shorter lens can be used.

Fig 2 - Looking east


Fig 2 - Looking east

At about 11.30am in late December, using a standard lens. The sun is not yet on the nose. A longer lens is useful here.

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