Day 3. A Day in Newcastle

To complete our weekend break in Durham we decided to spend our final day in Newcastle.  Trains run frequently between the two cities taking just 15 minutes, with standard off-peak adult returns £7.90.

Durham Railway Station
Durham Railway Station

As it was a Sunday we were able to travel on any service so we arrived into Newcastle station bright and early ready for some breakfast.  Just outside the station is a monument to George Stephenson, the father of the railway.  Below the large bronze statue are four smaller ones representing his achievements as a miner, locomotive engineer, blacksmith and a bridge builder.

George Stephenson Monument, Newcastle
The George Stephenson Monument outside the station

We headed down to the quayside, a vibrant area overlooking the River Tyne and home to numerous bars and restaurants.  On the way we passed the Newcastle Castle from where the city got its name.  It was a defensive fortification in medieval times and a rugged reminder of northern England’s turbulent history.

Newcastle Castle
Newcastle Castle

Arriving at the riverside it didn’t take us long to find a cosy pub where we set ourselves up for the day with full English breakfasts and cups of frothy cappuccino.  Feeling ready to start exploring, we strolled along the quayside which flanks both sides of the Tyne and is a ‘must see’ part of the city.  The quayside played a central part of Newcastle’s industrial history serving as a commercial dockside.   The area underwent a huge redevelopment in the early 2000’s and has become a hub of arts and culture in the north east.

Sunday market, Newcastle quayside
The Sunday Quayside Market

A large quayside market takes place every Sunday and was just getting under way as we approached.  On offer were gifts, souvenirs and an array of tempting street food vendors.

The Tyne Bridge, Newcastle
The Tyne Bridge

Newcastle is a city of bridges, with seven of the region’s most famous, including the iconic Tyne bridge crossing the river.  The landmark Tyne Bridge is the most famous of Newcastle’s seven bridges.  When it opened in 1928 it was the biggest single span bridge in the U.K.  The bridge towers were built of Cornish granite and originally designed as warehouses but never used.  It is most recognisable for the annual Great North Run when 52,000 runners pass over the bridge accompanied by a display from the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge,
Gateshead Millennium Bridge

We crossed over the river on the spectacular Millennium Bridge.  This is the world’s first and only tilting bridge linking Newcastle with Gateshead and is the River Tyne’s only foot and cycle bridge.  Opened in September 2001, the top of the arch stands 50 metres above the river when in its normal state.  The bridge is formed of a pair of steel arches spanning 100m between concrete stands rotated 40 degrees to permit boats to pass beneath four times daily.

Baltic Centre, Gateshead
The Baltic Centre, Gateshead

Dominating the skyline on the south side of the Tyne is the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.  The building opened as a working flour mill by Rank Hovis in 1950, closing in 1982 after just 30 years in operation.  It was equipped with the most up-to-date machinery of the time and at its height employed around 300 people.  The Baltic served as a model for other Rank Hovis mills which were also named after seas or rivers, hence the name Baltic.

Contemporary Art on display in The Baltic, Gateshead
Contemporary Art on display in The Baltic

Times have changed and from an old flour mill it’s now a place where old meets new and has become the country’s largest dedicated contemporary art institution.  The Baltic is currently open Wednesday – Sunday 10.30 – 6.00 p.m. and although pre-arranged timed entry slots are recommended, walk-in visitors are usually welcome.  Admission free.

Kittiwakes on the Tyne, Baltic Centre
Kittiwakes on the Tyne

Not only is The Baltic famous for art, it’s also made a name for itself with kittiwakes!  More than 100 pairs of kittiwakes return each year to nest on a narrow ledge high up on the side of the building.  The gallery has become a major supporter of the Tyne kittiwakes and they can be viewed from the Level 4 viewing platform. The birds usually nest on sea cliffs or islands off the coast and are not usually so easy to see.

Kittiwakes nesting on the Baltic Centre, Gateshead
Kittiwakes nesting on the Baltic Centre, Gateshead 

It seems strange that they have made this narrow ledge their home but it’s a perfect opportunity for visitors to view these beautiful birds up close.  An information board explained that this is the most inland breeding colony of kittiwakes in the world so it was very special to be able to observe them without the need for a pair of binoculars.  The birds spend autumn and winter out at sea and return to nest on the Baltic and Tyne Bridge ledges between March and August, so if you plan to visit Newcastle during the spring or summer do look out for this delightful sight.

Local Heroes Plaques Gateshead
The Local Heroes plaque to Brendan Foster

Our walk continued along the Gateshead side of the river and embedded into the footpath between the Baltic and the Tyne Bridge are bronze plaques of over 30 of Newcastle & Gateshead’s most inspiring people from the past 60 years.  These local heroes who were nominated by the general public include celebrities from film, TV and sport, local authors, musicians and those who have contributed to the local community.  We spotted Alan Shearer, Ant & Dec and Brendan Foster.  Foster is a former long distance runner, commentator and the founder in 1981 of the Great North Run, which is now firmly established as one of the world’s biggest half marathons.

The Sage, Gateshead
The Sage, Gateshead

Overlooking the river stands The Sage, an international music centre.  This landmark building was designed by the renowned architect Sir Norman Foster and is a symbol of the city’s regeneration on the Gateshead side of the river.  The Sage is currently closed but it was worth the hike up to it as from there we were rewarded with excellent views of the full span of the Tyne Bridge where we were heading next.

Walking across the Tyne Bridge
Walking across the Tyne Bridge

We’d already walked across Brooklyn Bridge in New York, Tower Bridge in London and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia so we were pleased to be adding Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge to our list.  The bridge was opened by King George V in 1928 and has since become a defining symbol of Tyneside.  There are footpaths on both carriageways and the views on both sides are spectacular.

Views of Newcastle quayside from the Tyne Bridge
Views of Newcastle quayside from the Tyne Bridge

Not only are the views good but the wildlife is too as we spotted more kittiwakes nesting on its narrow ledges, their nests built lying perilously close to the edge.

Kittiwakes nesting on the Tyne Bridge
Kittiwakes nesting on the Tyne Bridge

Back on the Newcastle quayside we made our way into the heart of the city along Grey Street.  This magnificent thoroughfare was completed in 1837 when the Prime Minster of the time Gladstone described it as the country’s best modern street.  The street is lined with grand buildings including the Theatre Royal constructed in neo-classical style and regarded as having one of the country’s finest theatre facades.

Grey's Monument, Grey Street, Newcastle
Grey’s Monument, Grey Street, Newcastle

Grey’s Monument stands proudly at the top of the street commemorating Charles Earl Grey and the reforms he achieved.  The statue stands on a 134ft stone column with a viewing balcony at the top of the 164 steps.  Access is currently suspended but is normally open on the first Saturday of each month, entrance £5.

Waterstones, Newcastle
Waterstones, Newcastle

To the rear of the statue is the north east’s largest branch of Waterstones the bookseller,  housed in yet another beautiful building so we just had to pop inside  for a look around as I am always drawn to interesting bookshops and libraries.

Chinatown Arch, Newcastle
The Newcastle Chinatown Arch

Our walk then took us to the west of the city centre into Chinatown.  The Newcastle Chinatown is one of only five in England, the others being in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.

The Chinese Arch Newcastle
The Chinese Arch with St. James’ Football Stadium in the background

The Newcastle Chinese arch was constructed in 2004 by Shanghai craftsmen and on either side of it are two guardian lions.  It is located on St. Andrews Street very close to St. James’ Park, the home of Newcastle United football club.

Lanterns on Stowell Street, Newcastle
Lanterns on Stowell Street

The heart of Chinatown lies around the corner on Stowell Street and this road looks particularly photogenic as it is adorned with 22 Chinese style lanterns instead of the usual street lights.

Durham Tower, Newcastle
Durham Tower, Newcastle

The remains of the old city walls can be seen nearby along with Durham Tower,  a semi-circular, single storey fortification which was built during the late 13th century.

Newcastle Railway Station
Newcastle Railway Station

After taking a look at the tower there was then just enough time for a meal before making our way back to the railway station for the short journey to Durham after  enjoying a fun-filled day exploring Newcastle.


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A day exploring Newcastle


58 thoughts on “Day 3. A Day in Newcastle

  1. I’m back to blogging again for a few weeks and then will have to take another month off for continuing work on my eyes. On September 24 2018 You shared a number of pictures on your days visits to Cambridge which as usual were outstanding. I was wondering if you would permit me to use one of those pictures as the identifying picture on a mini series I’ve written based largely around the Cambridge area? If permitted I’d certainly acknowledge credit to you for the picture used. If that is not possible I will understand.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jasonlikestotravel

    Oh wow, I was going to say how little of Newcastle I’d seen but your end to the post really emphasised that. I’ve only ever visited to go to St James’ Park but we were dropped off right outside the stadium. I explored that little of the area that I didn’t even see that Chinese arch haha. I definitely need to get up there for a proper visit at some point.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. As Durham and Newcastle are only 15 minutes apart by train, they can easily be combined. It’s really funny that you didn’t notice the Chinese Arch in front of St. James Park but you were probably dropped off round the other side! It’s a great city with lots of bars and restaurants overlooking the Tyne. Hope THFC won that day for you! Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great pictures Marion! I especially loved the kittiwates all perched there along the building. It’s so nice that there is somewhere to view them without disturbing them. I had never heard of kittiwakes before, but they look so pretty nestled there. -Meg

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Incredible- I love the Kittiwates (which I’d never even heard of!) I also love all the bridges, I’d never imagined Newcastle to be that picturesque, but it looks lovely. Another one for my list!!! Have a great weekend 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s a fine old city Shane and far nicer than people might think. The bridges are wonderful and it was such a treat to discover the kittiwakes nesting on that high ledge, we had no idea that they were there. I want to return when the Phil & Lit is back open as it looks to be an absolutely beautiful library. Hope you’re having a good weekend. Marion

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I once took the ferry from Bergen to Newcastle but we only overnighted there. A friend picked us up the next morning and we drove back to Carnforth way. Stopped at Hadrians Wall along the route. Never knew there was so much to see in Newcastle. And you guys sure do pack a lot into one day.
    I double checked whether the Tyne Bridge was based on Sydney Harbour Bridge or vice-versa, and seems the latter was the first to commence construction. But in any case that was inspired by a bridge in the USA apparently.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. ThingsHelenLoves

    Being Newcastle born, I’m biased but it is a fabulous city. You packed a lot in! How interesting about the kittiwakes, I hadn’t heard about that. A lovely sight all lined up and nesting. Hope you’re enjoying the brighter weather and getting out exploring again.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’m so pleased to read that you enjoyed this post Helen as I knew you were from Newcastle. The kittiwakes were a splendid surprise as although we’d planned our day out we didn’t expect to find them there! We went past the Lit & Phil that I remember you writing a post on – hopefully sometime we’ll be able to return to take a look inside. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Marion

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I’ve heard of Newcastle before due to knowing a few British peers who either are from there or studied university there; I even transited through the city on my way to London from Edinburgh. However, I know little about the place, and I appreciate you giving insight into the things to check out there! If I’m ever in that area someday, I’ll be sure to dedicate at least a day to sightseeing! Thanks for sharing, Marion. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  8. The long line of Kittiwakes nesting on the Baltic Centre is one of the most beautiful photos I’ve seen today, they are such lovely, delicate sea birds. It must be an amazing experience to be so close to the unique flock, and can you imagine how incredible it must be to see their young on the Baltic in Gateshead. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xxx

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Hi Aiva, I’m delighted that you share my enthusiasm for all these kittiwake chicks huddled close together on that ledge. It was such a surprise to us as although we had planned our day to visit The Baltic, we were unaware of their presence! Hope you are enjoying a sunny weekend. Marion xx

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I haven’t visited Newcastle or Durham but they have long been on my ever extending wish list of places to visit. Thank you for your informative (as always) posts which I have saved on Pinterest so that I can easily refer back to them, in the future.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Another spectacular post, Marion and apparently, another place to put on my travel list. I love the Millennium Bridge and saw a show once on its installation and operation. The Kittiwake viewing is just an added bonus. Looks like a great day trip if one is based in a central point. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

  11. There is something really special about the train stations in the UK … and the one in Newcastle is no exception! The same can be said about your bridges – though the Millennium bridge is great architecture and quite impressive, I do like the look of the Tyne bridge … maybe I’m just a fan of the old structures 😉.
    And yes, of course I’ve found the Kittiwakes just too cute – looks like quite a narrow place to make nests, but I presume that’s all they need.
    Thanks Marion, I’ve enjoyed my stroll through Newcastle. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Corna

    Liked by 6 people

  12. You managed to see and do a lot in one day. I love the kittiwakes and being able to see them from such close range without binoculars. Surely in itself worth the visit. I’ve passed through Newcastle a million times on the train from Edinburgh and London, but never jumped out and explored.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’d just been to Newcastle once before for a brief stay and like you normally just passed through the station on my way to and from Edinburgh. We didn’t even know the kittiwakes nested there until we went out onto the Baltic viewing platform but they were so lovely Leighton and it made our day. Hope you have a good weekend and thanks so much for commenting. Marion

      Liked by 3 people

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