I’ve just returned from a short break to Newcastle with my family. It seems like an unusual place to take a short break but we’ve always had a good time when we’ve visited before.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn, Gosforth Park in one of their newly renovated rooms. I chose this hotel firstly because we like to have a pool (the boys like to swim) and secondly the price was pretty good. It’s a few miles out of the city centre but so were all the things we wanted to do so that wasn’t an issue.
Angel of the North
On the first day we stopped off at the Angel of the North. I’ve driven past it loads of times before but it’s always been either freezing cold or raining. This time the sun was shining so we made a quick stop on our way north and I’m really glad we did. It’s a hugely impressive structure and it’s really accessible – just park up and walk to it. It’s really tough to get a photo with the full wingspan, but we just about managed from the bottom of the hill.
After visiting the angel we headed to the hotel to check in. As ever I took a wrong turn and we somehow stumbled upon Northumberlandia which my wife and I had seen on TV a while back. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a huge area of land that has been landscaped so the contours form a the shape of a woman laying on the land. It’s such a bizarre sight to drive past so after I finally took a right turn and found the hotel we quickly dropped off our bags and headed back out to explore.
It’s a brilliant place and the kids loved it (which is generally the measure), and we made our way to the top of the head. My phobia of heights kicked in (even though it’s a pretty gentle slope down) but I’m pleased to say we did it.
We’ve found some amazing beaches up around Newcastle before and even though my wife isn’t a big fan of beaches it’s hard to say no to a determined 3 year old. We headed out to the closest beach which according to the sat nav was Blyth. It was way busier than I’d expected and it’s not the kind of beach we’d normally go to (we go for the quieter beaches that don’t have a huge amount around them). The boys loved it, although they’d be happy anywhere and it filled a gap before we headed back to the hotel pool to finish the day off.
Alnwick Castle and Garden
We’ve been to Alnwick Castle before and had a great time so it was always going be on the list this time. The gardens are absolutely immaculate and the all the water fountains are a big draw for the kids. At just over £60 for the 4 of us (my youngest was allowed in for free) I thought it was pretty overpriced and we didn’t spend much time around the castle (a fact not aided by the lack of activities). It wasn’t helped that part of the castle was closed off while filming for an unnamed ITV period drama took place. In hindsight we should have probably just done the gardens as it’s hard for a 3 and 9 year old to appreciate a castle even if parts of Harry Potter were filmed there. The gardens are amazing, but £60 is a lot of money – it’s basically theme park territory in terms of price.
The kids were pretty tired after Alnwick Castle and Gardens so we headed north in the car with a view to finding a good small beach. We struck it pretty lucky when we arrived at Newton-by-the-Sea, an amazingly picturesque sandy beach. It had cooled down quite a bit by this point so the kids enjoyed exploring the beach, looking for shells and playing in the sand dunes. It’s definitely worth a trip to this beach if you’re nearby at any point.
Aside from a quick pitstop on the way home to walk over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge that was pretty much our trip to Newcastle. As ever we loved it and will be back again sometime soon!