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Trip Report A few hours in Newcastle

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I often advise fodorites to stop off for a couple of nights in York on the way from London to Edinburgh and others also recommend a visit to Newcastle. Despite living for 50+years in the UK I had never been to Newcastle though one of my sisters did her second degree there. By chance I had the opportunity to visit for a few hours in March. Here are my ramblings. For tourist info look here http://www.newcastlegateshead.com/

Newcastle sits high up above the Tyne with many railway lines coming to the central station via bridges high over the river. Since I started my trip at the Hilton (close to the Tyne) what stood out for was how high above me were these stone and steel bridges and how they dwarfed the river side area. Anyway I crossed from the south coast over a lift-and-rotate car bridge and found not Victorian buildings but a few Medieval ones and a bunch of signs for long distance cycle paths. I entered Victorian Newcastle and climbed the hill towards the city centre and saw nothing but restaurants and bars for some distance. Newcastle is famous in the North for its party life normally conducted in the streets at 0C in T shirts and during this late morning all I saw were these places beginning to open up.

The buildings became more Victorian, both in terms of large stone blocks but also with heavily decorated pillars, door frames and even some turn of the century coloured glass. To say the least I was impressed. At the top of the hill I came across the “Monument” a pillar not unlike that for Nelson for the local PM, Lord Grey ,who helped drive through the Reform Act (a change to voting that allowed 1in 6 men the vote rather than just a few men like the Duke of Norfolk (who owned 11 MPs)). At this level the streets open out in various directions, to the north is the lead-in to the main shopping centre with the usual brands from around the UK, to the west is the main railway station, to the north west is the football stadium while to the east is the Laing Gallery. http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/laing-art-gallery.html

I spent an hour in the lovely little Laing Gallery, the odd little Moore and Reynolds are separated by some local oil paintings, glassware etc. but all nicely laid out and well worth a visit. The gift shop has the usual stuff in it with some nice local features including some very attractive brasses which if they had weighed less might have come home with me. The museum coffee shop was a good find; carrot cake and coffee for £3.25. The museum is, of course, free.

I walked back to the river and visited the south side of the river (Gateshead). The Sage music venue http://www.sagegateshead.com/ looked pretty cool and the events for the next week were good. The Baltic Centre (free) https://www.balticmill.com/ is a fun building to visit with some great views of the river and a Kittiwake colony. The restaurant on the top floor looked classy but I opted for the cafe on the ground floor for lunch (again good value). Stepping out of the Baltic I saw the Blinking Bridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateshead_Millennium_Bridge open and then close and a short walk took us to the Gateshead Heritage centre which basically described (1850) Gateshead as the “slums of Newcastle” still good to know.


All in all a pleasant area to visit and with Hadrian's wall so close I'd come again. Easily walkable, you can get around most of it in 4 hours but the shops would take longer.

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