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May, 2017

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Adult family

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We arrived in “Newcastle-Upon-Tyne”: via a Virgin train from Berwick-Upon-Tweed. We took the yellow Quayside bus to the Quay – free for UK seniors (who have a pass) and £2.10 return for us Canadian visitors. We could have paid for one way tickets as we ended up walking back to the station, but who knew? This was our first visit to the city and we were eager to get to know it.

We got off the bus at Sage Gateshead and walked up to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art which is in the old Baltic flour mill right on the river. There was no tourist information (we should have stopped in the booth in the train station) and we did not want to go into the gallery so we walked across Gateshead Millennium Bridge to the other side of the river. The bridge has a unique design in that it is curved over the river with a high arch and it swings up to let boats through. There is a timetable letting you know when you can see it in operation during the day. As it was early May we were there too early in the season for river cruises.

We turned towards the city centre and continued walking along the river past the Tyne Bridge, the Swing Bridge and the High Level Bridge looking for somewhere to have coffee. We ended up at the Copthorne Hotel and had coffees outside overlooking the Riverside Park on the opposite shore. Many people were walking, cycling and running along the path on both sides of the river. After our refreshments we continued walking along the river past the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, the King Edward Bridge and the Redheugh Bridge. Although there is parkland along the river, it seems quite industrial across the road. It is marked as Hadrian’s Way and leads to Newburn. At this point we decided to turn back towards the city centre. There is much to see as you walk along the river. From the bridges to the architecture, old and new, there is a lot to take in. Even the benches along the walkway are interesting. One particularly poignant one is a WWII commemorative bench with soldiers and poppies as part of the iron back of the bench. We headed away from the river when we got towards the Tyne Bridge and stopped for lunch at “Queens Cafe”:

After our little break, we walked back down to the river and continued walking along Hadrian’s Way past Mariner’s Quay towards Ouseburn. On this stretch of the river walk are sculptures and exercise equipment, if the walk isn’t enough exercise for you. We ended up at the Toffee Factory where we got a map of the city. It was very helpful as it shows how many minutes it takes to walk between grids on the map. It also provides information about different ways to get around Newcastle: Metro, Quaylink buses, bus, train, taxi, cycleways and footpaths and tours – walking, open-top bus and river. The Old Toffee Factory is now a neighbourhood gathering place and offices. From here we headed back to the river towards the Tyne Bridge. One of the public art pieces on display is the Blacksmiths Needle made of forged steel. It is quite impressive as it stands so tall and has intricate depictions of the six senses in its six round sections. We walked up Sandhill by the River God and Siren sculptures by Andre Wallace and wound our way through the hilly streets to Eldon Square Shopping Centre for some retail therapy.

When we headed back outside we walked up Northumberland Street to the Church of St. Thomas the Martyr and the war memorial, past the university and then headed back through the pedestrian shopping area towards the train station. After a heavy day of walking (over 11 miles) we settled down in “Central”: in the ground floor of the Hampton by Hilton hotel across the road from the station for a lovely pizza meal before catching the train to our temporary home outside Duns in the Scottish Borders, “Runglee Cottage”:

Our day was a good introduction to Newcastle and showed us that there is so much more there to see besides industry.

Denise Bridge

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