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Have a brilliant time out on the Toon in Newcastle

River Tyne (Getty Images)
River Tyne (Getty Images)

You’ve got to go, friends had said. Something for everyone and the people are so friendly. And it’s definitely not just for stag nights and hen weekends.

It was literally years before I got round to it. But once there, I realised those friends were right – it’s a great place to spend a weekend or a few days.

If you fancy it, get organised with when you’re going and how you’ll get there well in advance.

We managed to get return fares from Edinburgh Waverley to Newcastle for £5 each return. Yup, that’s right, a fiver.

It would be a crime not to go at that price, wouldn’t it?

We were hardly on the train at all – less than two hours. But we managed to have a drink, stuff our faces and clink our (plastic) glasses more than once, congratulating ourselves on our cheeky wee weekend away.

Our accommodation was the Cumberland Arms. It’s slightly out of town, in the heart of the Ouseburn Valley. It’s an up-and-coming area with a growing selection of nice pubs and restaurants.

The Cumberland is a traditional B&B and quaint bar, popular with ‘real pub’ fans and lovers of craft beers. It’s a homely wee place with vintage furniture, spotless rooms and a fine breakfast. If you don’t mind a walk, you can easily stroll there from the station.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

And that gives you an ideal opportunity to stop off for a wee refresher at one of the great pubs on Akenside Hill.

We chose the Bridge Tavern.

You know how we’re always hearing that the pub trade is dying? Someone forgot to tell them here. It was doing a roaring trade in both food and drink, with customers of all ages.

We watched one elderly man, there on his own and nursing a solitary pint, get into a good-natured “debate” (OK, argument) with a bunch of young lads about the next Newcastle game.

It’s that kind of place and it was tempting to spend the whole afternoon there.

But we finished our drinks, dropped off our bags and went exploring.

And it’s just as well we did – there’s so much more to Newcastle than simply beers and boozing.

Exploring the Victoria Tunnel
Exploring the Victoria Tunnel

How about the Victoria Tunnel? Bear with me – it’s fascinating. It’s a tunnel with a varied history – it’s been used as a mushroom farm, an air-raid shelter with seating for 9,000 and a colliery.

You can get guided tours, with a recommendation that you take younger children on the shorter one-hour option.

Oh, and don’t wear heels! Or, do as we did on a sunny Sunday morning and go for a walk along the Quayside. You could spend 10 minutes or a couple of hours there.

We took a wander through the market, where you’ll find everything you could wish for, from mirrors costing a small fortune to hot pancakes. And if you’re good at haggling, you’ll do well here!

Of course, if spending is your thing, Newcastle is like most cities and it has a great selection of shops in the centre.

All the big names are here, as well as a good selection of smaller, independent shops.

The eerie Victoria Tunnel
The eerie Victoria Tunnel

We loved UpSide Down Presents, which sells a quirky selection of cards and presents including fab USB bottle lights – hard to imagine but they add atmosphere to any room – and local gifts.

It’s the kind of place you can go in “just for a look” and come out quite a bit poorer.

Or is that just me?

At the end of our visit, there was only one question left. Why did I take so long to visit this amazing city?

I’ll certainly be back before long.


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