FROM the parking and the toilet area at Sunderland Point, follow the obvious narrow road into the hamlet.
The little port was once the haunt of sailors working the West Indies’ route.
Sunderland was developed in the 18th century by the Quaker, Thomas Lawson and it is said that he imported the first West Indian Cotton into Lancashire via the port.
He did, however, overstretch himself and when he went bankrupt the port declined into what is now a fascinating time-warp.
The old quayside and the berthing areas can still be seen.
Pass through the hamlet until a right turn is indicated.
Turn right at a sign indicating West Shore and Carr Lane.
Do not rush this undulating track which becomes ever more sandy until it leads to a gate leading onto the shingle spit.
Heysham nuclear power station can be seen away to the right.
Turn left along the spit and enjoy the flowers and the birdlife which is of interest all the year round.
Look out for a seat on the left and a set of solid stone steps with a finger post pointing to Samboo’s Grave.
This is surely one of the most beautiful resting places to be found anywhere in the world.
In 1801 no fewer than 76 ships, each of more than 160 tons, were trading from the port.
They were sometimes moored four and five deep across the Lune, laden with sugar, rum, tobacco, mahogany — and also, sadly, slaves.
One of these slaves, now known as Samboo, died at Sunderland at an even earlier time (around 1734) but because of prejudice operating at the time could not be buried consecrated ground.
In 1786 his grave was thankfully marked and, given the choice of resting place, I would prefer its beautiful and windswept location to any so-called consecrated plot. Children (and me) often add a
wild flower or two to the offerings on this man’s sad grave.
Continue along the shingle path to another gate. Pass through this and bear left.
The going here can be rough because of the mixture of scree and boulders.
On the headland look out for a house built in the style of a West Indian plantation owner’s residence.
Look out over the estuary to see the Chapter House, all that is left of the once-important Cockersand Abbey.
Continue to follow the obvious track. To the left are the Cotton Tree Cottages, converted from a former warehouse.
The cotton tree was not correctly named but was actually a black poplar which was, until recently, growing close to the old warehouse.
It had to be felled but a plaque marks its former site.
From the cotton tree area stroll along Second Terrace, which was the focal point of the grand old port. Return to the parking and toilet area.