Car-free adventures aroundNewcastleTyne and Wear

Newcastle is famous for its iconic bridges over the River Tyne, for its ship-building, coal-mining heritage, and for its ongoing wealth of breweries. Not quite so many visitors know there are also world-class museums and galleries on both sides of the Tyne. Take cultural café crawls through Georgian arcades, Victorian markets and post-industrial creative centres. Or hike along the course of Hadrian’s Wall, celebrating its 1900th birthday in 2022. And, on sunny days, head out to the Tyneside coast by bus, metro or boat.

  • County: Tyne and Wear
  • Great for: castle | coast | family fun | wildlife |
  • Refreshments: lots of fabulous restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • Please note: researched/updated in February 2022. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. Hadrian's Wall

    Nineteen centuries ago, Emperor Hadrian oversaw the start of work on a 73-mile wall to guard the Roman empire’s remote north-western border. From the banks of the Tyne in Newcastle to the Solway Firth, west of Carlisle, this Unesco-listed frontier has a national trail tracking it from coast to coast. You can walk beside sections of wall and follow its former course, snaking over grassy hills, past turrets, milecastles and whole Roman towns. There are huge views across the landscapes of Northumberland and Cumbria from ruins like Housesteads fort with its barracks, hospital and communal loos. Fragments of ancient life here – a hobnailed leather shoe or a bowl with a carved soldier’s name – survive in the museum.

    • How to get to Hadrian’s Wall by bus: these central sections of the wall can be accessed on bus AD122 from Hexham (trains from Newcastle). And you’ll get 10% off entry to several Hadrian’s Wall attractions when you show a bus ticket.
    • Hadrian’s Wall Path begins at Wallsend, about four miles east of Newcastle. An excellent museum on the site of Segedunum Roman Fort makes an idea place to start the trail. A viewing tower overlooks the outline of the fort and a mesmerising video reconstruction shows the layers of history ebb and flow around it.
    • The museum puts the site in glowing context, from epic overviews of imperial power to the tiny details of everyday life in the fort: Roman dice that solders used to pass the time or the mark of a cat’s paw on an ancient piece of pottery.
    • How to get to Segedunum without a car: From the Monument metro stop in the middle of Newcastle, the metro runs direct to Wallsend in ten minutes.
    • Following the trail westwards from Newcastle, you walk through the lovely Tyne Riverside Country Park and up to the Northumberland village of Heddon-on-the-Wall with a long stretch of broad wall to explore and the welcoming Swan pub for refreshments. Bus 685 runs direct from Newcastle.
  1. To the sea

    Newcastle is just eight miles from the North Sea and it’s an easy trip by bus or metro to the coast.

    • One branch of the metro ends in South Shields. From here, it’s a twenty-minute stroll through Marine Park to the kiss-me-quick delights of Sandhaven Beach.
    • Across the widening river, the metro leads to North Shields (there’s a ferry in between too) and on to Tynemouth, Cullercoats and Whitley Bay with the striking domed white Spanish City, a revamped entertainment centre by the sea.
    • For a more rural seaside escape, follow the England Coast Path for two miles or catch a bus to St Mary’s lighthouse. Fans of TV detective series Vera will recognise some classic locations around Whitley Bay, and St Mary’s Island.
    • Completed in 1898, the lighthouse stands on a small rocky part-time island with a causeway, which is covered by high tides. Look out for the bottlenose dolphins that have been spotted here recently and, in summer, for sand martins flying low over the nearby beach and the nature reserve with rock pools and flowering clifftop meadows. If the tide is low enough to reach the lighthouse you can climb 137 steps to the top for spectacular views along coast.
    • How to get to St Mary’s lighthouse by bus: Bus 308 and bus 309 run several times an hour from Newcastle’s bus station (two stops on the metro from the train station). Get off at The Links-Cemetery stop and cross the road towards the sea. Walk five or ten minutes along the coast path with the sea on your right and you can’t miss it.