WEARSIDERS are being urged to step off the beaten track and learn more about the history on their doorsteps.
Work on a cliff-top walk between Sunderland and Seaham – known as the Durham Heritage Coastal Path – is due to start in the spring of next year.
Detours from the trail are also to be included, taking in historic sites, but first Echo readers being asked for their views on which ones to feature.
“There are natural breaks in the path at Ryhope and Hendon, which lend themselves to detours,” said Janette Hilton, of Living History North East.
“Our charity has been asked to work with local residents and school children to find out which areas they would like to see included in the walks.”
The coastline of Wearside and East Durham was once blackened by colliery tipping, but the area has won Heritage Coast status since mining ended.
Many sites of historic interest still remain along the coast however - from lime kilns to factories - and Janette wants to hear of more hidden gems.
“We have already drawn up some ideas for a detour into the East End, including stories of shipbuilding, the town moor and orphanage,” she said.
“We could even open up our base at the old Donnison School if people wanted a drink along the way, but we still need more ideas for other areas.
“There are pockets of local heritage all along the coast, and we want to link them up to the path with little detours. It’s a fascinating project.”
Possible points of interest for the detours include artwork at Panns Bank wall, a Boar’s Head viewpoint and information panels around the town moor.
Artwork for Hendon beach, way markers at The Grange pub, an information panel at the Toll Bar and seating at Ryhope beach have also been suggested.
“This is an ideal opportunity to bring in tourists to Sunderland and show them our local history. Sunderland has a very rich heritage,” said Janette.
“But we really need people to come forward with suggestions for historic areas to include. We want to make these detours as interesting as possible.”
Volunteers at Living History North East are planning to work with schools in Hendon and Ryhope over the next few weeks to develop the project.
And a public consultation will be held at Sunderland Central Library on December 18, from 10am-7pm, for residents to find out more about the scheme.
“If we can capture people’s feelings and memories about different areas, it will help give the walks and detours more substance,” said Janette.
“We want to make people excited about stepping off the beaten track; give them interesting things to see and learn about. Hopefully, it will leave a legacy.”
Work on the new Sunderland to Seaham path - designated as part of the England Coast Path - is being overseen by Natural England and local councils.
Approval followed two years of consultation with landowners and, once complete, it will eventually allow people to walk the whole of the English coast.
“This new path will physically reconnect Grangetown and Ryhope to their coast,” said Niall Benson, of Durham Heritage Coast Partnership.
“This is something that has been missing for a generation. We can’t wait to get the work done and get people out there.
“Our natural environment will also benefit, as the route will reduce unintentional trampling - which can be so damaging at certain times of the year.”
* Can you think of any historical points of interest to highlight between Hendon and Seaham? Contact Janette on 565 4835.