A Day Out To Newcastle
Beacon Hill Farm lies approximately 21 miles north of one of the finest cities in the north of England and indeed the UK. We are talking, of course, about what some call locally “the toon”, that being the city of Newcastle. Although many of our holiday cottage guests come here to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life at our idyllic, peaceful farm, we highly recommend a visit to Newcastle as there’s so much to see and do for people of all ages and interests.
The journey time is only half an hour, a very straight forward hop down the A1 and those of you visiting us from the South will no doubt have passed by Newcastle on your way here. You won’t have seen much on the way through however, save for the Angel of the North in Gateshead and a brief easterly view along the river Tyne as you cross the river near the Scotswood bridge. The Angel by the way, is worth a visit as it has been spreading its wings over the region for almost 20 years now and is one of the most talked about sculptures in the land. It lies some 3-4 km from Newcastle city centre so if planning to spend the day in Newcastle we would advise you to visit either on your way in or on the way out at the end of the day. You can find all the information about the Angel here and it has a Facebook page where you can see some stunning photo’s and perhaps even post your own.
For families there really is so much to see and do and you certainly won’t be able to fit all of the following recommendations in a single day. First up is The Great North Museum known as the Hancock. It’s great for the kids and they will get to see some amazing animal exhibits within the Living Planet area including a full-size model of an elephant and a great white shark. If you like your Roman history then you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied with hundreds of objects on display from the Roman Empire and a fascinating interactive model of Hadrian’s wall, which incidentally is another one of our recommended Days Out!
The Discovery Museum to the West of the city centre also has plenty to offer and houses collections on maritime history, with pride of place in the museum going to Turbinia, once the fastest ship in the world and the first to be powered by steam turbines.
The International Centre For LifeWithin a short walk of here you will find the International Centre For Life and this is simply a ‘must visit’ especially if you have children. They will absolutely love the interactive displays, whether it’s making vertical marble runs, stacking up foam buildings and trees and then turning on the fan to blow them down, freezing their hands on an ice wall to see the effect on the heat sensing cameras or any of the many fun experiment stations.
The big-ticket attractions include the Planetarium, a 4D ride and the very latest exhibition from the Natural History Museum that has only recently launched. Dino Jaws is running right through 2017 and features life-size animatronic dinosaur displays. Having been already we can assure you that the kids will love it, especially the T-Rex and other featured dinosaurs and if you explore carefully you can even touch a real dinosaur poo!…fossilized of course. The Life Centre has a café and even a picnic area should you prefer to take your own food. Be warned, you could easily spend the whole day here and the hours will fly by!
Another great place for kids is Seven Stories, a kind of museum, come book shop, come educational activity centre! Set out over…seven storeys (you see what they did!), there’s loads of interactive areas where the little ones can draw, dress up, read, create, play and learn about all things to do with children’s literature. One of the current exhibitions ‘Bears!’ invites children to bring along their own teddy bears and learn about bears featured in story books old and new.
If museums, science and books aren’t the order of the day but you still need to keep the kids occupied for a few hours then Lane 7 is a great place for bowling though this would probably suit older kids rather than the younger ones. In Eldon Square, you can get to grips with some adventure climbing courtesy of Vertigo. It’s a bit of a different twist on your standard climbing centre and features many different colourful and themed climbing walls and towers such as a castle, space wall and tetris wall. One of the favourites for competitive siblings will be the transparent wall where two climbers can race to the top on opposite sides of transparent plastic, literally eyeball to eyeball in a dash to the top.
There are of course many other must-see attractions that most people will have already heard of. The BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art and The Sage, though technically not in Newcastle, are literally on the other side of the river and a short walk over the millennium bridge from the Newcastle quayside. The BALTIC is free to enter and well worth an hour of your time even if it’s just for the glass elevator ride to the top floor and viewing platform with great views out over the city.
The Sage is a world class music venue and we would highly recommend taking in a performance if you can fit it in. Again, if you are simply having a leisurely walk around the quayside area you can pop in and wander around the large open plan gallery area, have a coffee at the cafe, visit the gift shop and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and views.
Eat & Drink
You won’t be struggling to find places to stop and refuel on your day out in town. There are of course cafés in many of the places mentioned above and if looking for a lunch stop, there are plenty of options along the quayside where, in many places, you can sit and watch the world go by with the stunning backdrop of the river and bridges.
Café 21 and Café Vivo are 2 of our favourite restaurants and both are located on the Newcastle quayside. The former offers a superb menu and the food has never been less than excellent on our visits. The latter is a lovely traditional Italian restaurant with great food and a relaxed atmosphere. We can also recommend House of Tides, again on the quayside and within a stones throw of the Tyne Bridge. It is currently the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Newcastle having retained the accolade that they originally gained in 2016.
GreyHeading up the hill (Dean Street) and into what is effectively the city centre, you will see Grey’s Monument where the main shopping area of the city is located. Grey Street itself has many good chain restaurants such as Las Iguanas or Zizzi’s and another of our favourites Dabba Wal is located on High Bridge Street just off Grey Street as you walk towards the Theatre Royal. Here you can enjoy a busy, lively atmosphere while tucking into Indian Street food, served tapas style. Do try the Bombay Bomb!
For the more adventurous among you who perhaps want to sample the nightlife that Newcastle has to offer… well we don’t get out enough these days to know ALL the trendy bars but one of the cities more recent additions that we can recommend is The Botanist. With a lively atmosphere, especially at weekends, you’ll struggle to find a more comprehensive cocktail menu as well as a fine selection of real ales, bottled beers, Champagne and wine. This would be an appropriate point to mention that a taxi back from Newcastle to Beacon Hill Farm will be around the £40 mark depending on the company you book with.
Newcastle itself is easily accessible and there are plenty of public car parks that are very close to the centre of town and well positioned for some of the major attractions. If visiting the Sage, Baltic Flour Mill or the Quayside area then parking at the Sage itself in its own car park situated directly behind the building would be a good idea and there is also another large car park called Mill Road (NE8 5JB) with about 300 spaces and with great views of Newcastle as well as the river and bridges.
If visiting the Centre For Life or Discovery museum then the Times Square multi storey car park (NE4 7AD) is a good bet and you will usually find spaces here. If wanting to base yourself to the North of the City Centre then Claremont Road car park is just off the A167 central motorway and is very handy for the Hancock Museum and only a 5 minute walk to Northumberland Street, the heart of city centre shopping.
If you don’t mind a little walk along the river then there is one car park that is a hidden gem as it is FREE and is right next to a wonderful little café called The Cycle Hub (NE6 1BU). On a sunny day this is a great spot to sit outside overlooking the river and they serve good coffee, food and snacks (including a rather fine caramel shortbread!)