What are you looking for?
13 September 2017


our trip to newcastle over the august bank holiday weekend did not just include eating and drinking our way around the great north. no, no. we also had planned to see and learn everything we could about the history and heritage of the city, while eating and drinking our way around it. multi tasking like actual bosses, you might say...

quayside and the bridges

our first stop was the quayside that we'd seen so much of on the telly. you know the image: the shot of rowdy newcastle with the scenic bridges in the background? yep, that's quayside, and it stretches the whole length of the tyne in both the city, and gateshead on the southside. it's lined with restaurants and bars, cafes and night clubs, and is listed as one of newcastle gateshead's top ten attractions; it's not hard to see why.

one of the quayside's key features are the bridges that cross it. from the pedestrian gateshead millenium bridge which crosses from the baltic centre on the southbank to the newcastle law courts on the north, to the train bridge that crosses further into the centre of the city, the tyne can be crossed by no less than seven bridges. the millenium bridge is quite fun to watch, as it swings up to let boats pass, and lights up like a rainbow at night, which we were super pumped to find on our evening stroll. the tyne bridge though? it's a beauty in its own, industrial right. said to be designed by the same company who designed the sydney harbour bridge, it looms over the city, and catching glimpses of it between buildings as we wandered filled us with such happiness. it was my fave, for sure.

the ouseburn valley

ouseburn is the "creative" hub of newcastle. what once was a disused industrial wasteland has been brought back to life through charitable donations, and reclamation of land in the valley since the 1970s. it's where you can garantee live music and open workshops and cool student bars, and really good food (both ernest and tyne bar are in ouseburn), and because of that, it's now pretty much the coolest place to live.

we wandered around the area for hours, walking off our lunch at tyne bar, and we followed the canal into the heart of the area: lime square. we found street art a plenty, bustling pubs full of customers, loads of green spaces, and a real community vibe everywhere we looked. we actually stopped in at ouseburn a few times during our stay, because we enjoyed the area so much.

the city centre

we were joined by alex from northern secrets tours, for a personal, guided tour of the gorgeous roman city on our second day. newcastle is a student town - there are two different unis there, and not just any old unis: clever ones. they breed them smart in newcastle, with scientists and doctors and other proper clever people leaving uni there, so there's a lotttt of student acommodation hanging around the city's fringes. in the heart though, there's gorgeous grey street - named after former prime minister earl grey (yes, the tea guy); one of the finest examples of georgian architecture outside of london and bath. it's beautiful positioned in the centre of the city, with a monument marking his honour.

close by is the theatre royal, grainger market, clayton street, and grainger street; streets thriving with independent boutiques and cafes, the central arcade, and intu eldon square - one of the biggest shopping malls in the uk, with floors and floors of department and high street stores, as well as a ground floor stocked with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs open through the night.

and beyond...

just outside the centre is the new newcastle castle. that phrase was the highlight of our trip, for real, but it's genuinely what it's called. following the bringing together of two former castles, the castle keep and the black gate re-opened in 2015 as the new castle. newcastle castle. the new, newcastle castle. the new attraction features a curated exhibition within the black gates, telling the story of the villains and vagabonds that lived within the walls throughout the ages, which has enticed a new type of visitor for the first time. the keep is one of the uk's finest medieval stone castles still open to the public, and sits on the same site as the original timber castle. the old newcastle castle. so to speak.

the castle was once used as the last defence against attacks on the city way back from roman times, when it housed a fort and settlement for the soldiers. there are views from the top of the building right out to the east of the tyne, and back then, a wooden structure was built on the site of the fort, which was known as the "new castle upon tyne".. you see where i'm going here, yes?

the gateshead icons

gateshead is the city on the south side of the river tyne, that is by its own right another city, exclusive of newcastle upon tyne. it's best known for hosting the majority of the great icons that are thought to be in newcastle though, so that was a real lesson in ignorance for us all. like the angel of the north, for example. she's about a fifteen minute drive away from the river, into suburban gateshead. she's just there, in a field, surrounded by houses and not a lot else. she's pretty popular, i'll give her that, but it was hard to get a decent picture of her because of the throngs of tourists clambering to meet her themselves.

then you've got baltic contemporary arts centre and sage gateshead right there on the river. the baltic was once the city's flour mill, but now has been regenerated into a beautiful contemporary art space, with some of the best views of the tyne and its two cities, as well as two incredible restaurants. we ate at six, on the sixth floor, which has stunning views and a delicious sunday menu, but on the ground floor is a more casual kitchen that's perfect for lazy brunches. the sage is a contemporary building, designed to look like a soundwave, due to its nature; it houses musical events, like the ballet, orchestral performances, and is home of the north eastern symphony, but sadly was closed on the weekend we visited. both buildings will be playing a huge part in next year's exhibition, so i'm sure i'll make it back to see it in all its glory.

the great exhibition of the north

speaking of the exhibition, the preparation for it was obvious. 2018 is the year that newcastle gateshead gets to show off all it has to offer, and the exhibition is set to be the biggest event in england next year. the government funded event will showcase the best of art, culture, design and innovation across the northern powerhouse. visitors will be able to discover the story of the north east through walking routes themed around the arts, beginning at baltic, sage gateshead, the great north museum, and the centre for life.

the hope of the the great exhibition of the north is to highlight the north's strengths in key sectors like digital, health innovation and energy, as well as profiling great northern innovations such as graphene, which was discovered by scientists working at the university of manchester back in 2004. my guess is that while that is what will bring people to the two cities next year, they will want to stay for aaaall the other reasons i've listed above. and the food, which i maintain was some of the best i've had in the country this year. so, there you have it; three days, two nights, and a whole lot of things to see and do, so tell me: when are you planning your trip to newcastle gateshead?

*this trip was complimentary, but all thoughts are my own. obviously.