Saturday 2 October 2010

Not a Grotty Grotto

Stagecoach service E1 runs from Sunderland to South Shields keeping fairly close to the coast.   And it passes Marsden Grotto.   It doesn't look very much like a grotto, does it?   When fbb visited [excitedly] there was very little clue to the delights to come; just some smallish adverts advising  us all to book up for our Christmas dinner!  Indeed, Mrs fbb was decidedly underwhelmed by the unimposing vista and was on the brink of deciding to abort the visit.
But at the end of a rather dingy entrance was a lift shaft; descending, not into the bowels of the earth but to a pub built into former smugglers caves at the foot of the cliff.
In 1898 Vaux breweries upgraded the premises, creating something like the present style of building.   The bar seating areas extend back into the rocks but the fbbs sat outside on the terrace and enjoyed a delicious supper of fish chips and mushy peas washed down with a large glass of white wine and lemonade.   All enjoyed to the lapping of the gentle waves of the North Sea and basking in the bucolic glory of the September evening's setting sun!  (very poetic, eh?)
The E1 runs every 20 minutes Monday to Friday daytimes (every 30 mins evenings and Sundays) so a safe exit after any imbibement can be guaranteed!   Sadly the bus you travel on wouldn't look like this ...

Nevertheless, fbb strongly recommends this little bit if quirky north-east-ness ...
But, sadly, fbb was on his way north to Scotland (via Hexham, passim) and paid his visit by motor car.   Shame indeed!    And below, a 1930s view (?) with a more exciting lift shaft.


  1. Lovely read! My mum and dad had their wedding re emotion at the Grotto in 1973 — it was the place to be! Sarah