Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

March 2009 : Newcastle & Durham : The Toon Do

(a.k.a. "Howay, it's a Do, Pet!")

This latest frequent flyer get-together, superbly organised by BA97 and continentalclub, combined a long-held desire for a 'do' in the North-East of England with the opportunity to hold a 1st birthday party for Heathrow's Terminal 5. Of course, coming from the real North , travelling via Heathrow seemed a bit excessive, so for me it was a case of gannin me ain gate doon te the Toon (I hope I got that right ) to meet up with the Southern hordes.

Weather-wise, I think we had just about everything in the repertoire, as long as it wasn't too strongly associated with heat : wind, rain and sleet, as well as glorious, cloudless skies and Spring sunshine. We managed to pack a great deal into the short time available. As well as seeing the Toon itself, we visited the nearby cathedral city of Durham and, on Sunday, enjoyed a bracing visit to the Northumbrian coast at Tynemouth.

And the overall verdict? Champion, like. Champion!

Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead

For the uninitiated : if you're north of the river you're in Newcastle, and if you're south of the river you're in Gateshead. (And if you don't want to stick out like a sore thumb, it's new-CASTLE and GATES-head.)  Both towns are exceptionally hilly, as the Tyne valley is particularly narrow and steep-sided at this point. Much recent development, as well as the thriving nightlife scene, centres around the quayside. (See also side panel)


Despite desperately poor weather, we enjoyed a short visit to the cathedral city of Durham - another very hilly place! Most of the time was spent indoors on a 90-minute guided tour of the cathedral, which is reckoned to be the greatest surviving example of Norman architecture and as such enjoys World Heritage Site status. Unfortunately, photography is banned inside the building.


Sunday brought a welcome change in the weather, and we were able to enjoy a trip out to the pleasant coastal community of Tynemouth, to blow away the cobwebs.

The Tyne Bridge

Remarkably reminiscent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, albeit on a smaller scale, the Tyne Bridge is undoubtedly Newcastle's most iconic landmark.

Base : Hilton, Gateshead