Wind and water mills are a huge part of our local heritage in the Northeast as at one time there were over 1000 in the region (North East Mills, 2013). A great deal of these mills still stand to this day with many being listed buildings for the significance they hold.
The twin mill route (Its not officially called this, I just created the name for this blog post but i’m gonna make it a thing!) takes you from Whitburn Mill on the coastal road to Cleadon Mill at the top of Cleadon hills. There is just under 2 miles between the mills and the circular route we took was just over 5 miles.
Our initial plan for the day wasn’t at all to do this walk. We had planned on walking along the promenade at Seaburn. However while driving along we realised that everyone else in Sunderland had had the same idea. So we kept driving and decided to walk north along the coast away from the mass of people. This is when we quite literally stumbled across the first of our mills and decided to explore!
There is no official parking for this walk as it’s not an official route or anything. However if you are wanting to do a route similar to the route we took, then the best place to park is probably Whitburn Bents car park (where Latimers and Minchellas is). Parking costs £1 per hour, or £5 all day.
Postcode: SR6 7NT
If you were to start at Whitburn Bents then you need to join the main road, and head north along Mill lane until you get to Whitburn Windmill. It’s just under a mill along the road. You cannot miss it, but just in case, its on the left!
The Windmill is incredibly impressive and is dated back to 1779. In the summer, the whole field surrounding the mill is full of wildflowers and is something on my list for summer 2021 as it looks incredibly stunning!
From here you walk west, away from the coast through the housing estate behind the mill. Use the map below to navigate through the estate but it is fairly straightforward. Once you hit the public path through the farm, it is one path all the way.
This part of the path is pretty claggy right now as much of it is farmers field. The wellies were doing their job well today! It was also fairly icy so be careful and wear sensible shoes!
Going over the many stys through the fields you will eventually go through one into the Cleadon Hills Nature Reserve. In the summer there are lots of wild flowers here too which gives it its nature reserve title. Again i’d love to come back and see it in the warmer months.
There are also shetland ponies roaming through the field which were so happy chasing each other around. But be careful with them if you have small people with you! they also may be a little bitey.
The mill itself is not exactly the most impressive part of the area as the view over Sunderland is spectacular!
You can see out across the sea, the pier at Roker, Penshaw Monument, The Northern Spire, and north towards Newcastle. We were incredibly lucky when we did this route as the winter sun was warming through and setting a beautiful glow across the vista.
From here you have two options, go back the way you came down the farm track, or go down into Cleadon Village and along Cleadon Lane back to the coast. We opted for going through Cleadon (partially to have a nosey at all the beautiful houses).
Cleadon lane will take you all the way back to Mill Lane, or you can cut through to Cornthwaite Park when you get to Whitburn Village. This way will bring you out right next to Whitburn Bents car park.
If you get a day when the weather is fresh and bright, this route is a perfect way to spend a weekend day in lockdown! The route wasn’t very busy, and compared to the busier Roker and Seaburn areas, it was very peaceful and felt a lot safer!
Thank you for reading, and I hope you’re doing well. The world is a mess right now but you just have to keep going. I wrote a Lockdown Survival Guide which I hope might help anyone who is struggling with this weird new normal.
Stay Safe, and Happy Adventuring!
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