Where there’s a will there’s a wye-aye! If you’re new to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, or a local looking to get away from The Toon for a spell, make like a magpie and take a look at our shiny list of five nearby locations guaranteed to get your motor running. Ha’way we go!
Longsands Beach & Cullercoats
The Great British seaside at its finest awaits just a short way away from the mouth of the River Tyne; and it’s got a Blue Flag to prove it. The golden sands that stretch out for over 300 metres in the semi-circular bay have long been a popular local spot, but switched on visitors are now starting to frequent it more and more. A rich fishing heritage still permeates the town, and a stroll around will delight the more architecturally curious, as dwelling designs differ from quaintly archaic fisherman’s cottages to wide windowed Victorian terraced houses, with a bit of Gothic revival thrown in for good measure.
The surfing scene is also well established here, and those who are keen to grab a board and have a go themselves can sign up for a lesson with one of the reputable surf schools. Unless you’re very brave, or have skin thicker than a rhino, we wouldn’t recommend diving in without a wetsuit – this isn’t Hawaii after all!
Herrington Country Park & Penshaw Woods
Lying just south of Sunderland city, Herrington Country Park has, at first glance, little that gives away its former life as a colliery in the North East’s great industrial days. Where deep pits once existed, now duck ponds sit, providing a habitat for the increasing number of creatures that live on this land. With wonderfully open spaces criss-crossed by different pathways, walkers of all abilities will get a kick out of finding their own route around the place, and though the area is still rather urban in its location, it offers a nice respite from pounding the pavements.
Those wanting something a little wilder can head over the road to Penshaw Woods where they can have their fill of forest-based fun, before climbing up to the Acropolis-like Earl of Durham’s Monument for panoramic views across the county.
As world class walls go, it’s true that Hadrian’s may have seen better days, but that certainly doesn’t make its lasting existence any less impressive.
Though you may have snoozed through those long since forgotten history lessons in school, visiting this groundbreaking landmark of Roman occupation in person is anything but boring. Aside from the milecastles, villages and vestiges of the Empire that rose and fell, there’s a ton of slightly more up to date draws to tempt those who aren’t so keen on the archaeological aspects, such as mountain biking, horse riding and a few fantastic traditional pubs serving up delicious local produce.
Comes highly recommended for those suffering from symptoms of withdrawal when the current series of Game of Thrones ends.
Whitelee Moor Nature Reserve
A short journey northwards will situate you right at the top of Northumberland; a certifiable goldmine for history hounds, nature lovers and sight seekers alike. Far from your usual run of the mill moors, the habitat that exists here is so rare it has been granted special status in conservational circles due to its blanket bog (don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it) and rough and ready heather uplands, where a vast array of wonderful wildlife roams free. If you’re in the mood for a strictly UK based safari – with bats, otters, feral goats, snakes, owls and lizards to name just a few species in residence – this is indisputably the place to do it.
The huge reserve also shares territory with Scotland and visitors with a little more time on their hands may wish to do a bit of border-hopping in the nearby village of Kielder, where a handy marker will ensure you’re standing on just the right spot for that boundary straddling selfie.
Lindisfarne & Holy Island
Those with even a slight proclivity for the more mystical aspects of UK heritage will soon find themselves falling head over heels in love with Lindisfarne. Accessible only via boat or the tidally tied causeway, Holy Island is home to many numinous yarns which tread the fine line between fantasy and reality, and for such a small atoll, it certainly packs a lot in.
From the crumbling remnants of the Anglo-Saxon priory (home of the legendary Lindisfarne Gospels) and its sky-high rainbow bridge, to the grand 16th Century castle (that one prosperous bachelor once purchased as a London retreat), plus stunning ocean views punctuated by two nearby lighthouses (Guile Point East and Heugh Hill) and a whole host of plants and animals to sit and spot from the ramparts, you certainly won’t be short of a thing or two to do. Do ensure you get your timings right before setting out, or you could be faced with a chilly swim back to the mainland.
1 hour 15 minutes