What to do on a rainy day in Newcastle

What to do on a rainy day in Newcastle

Exploring a new city is a great way to spend a weekend or short break in the UK, but there’s one thing you always need to be prepared for – rain. Fortunately, since this country is no stranger to wet weather, finding fun things to do in a downpour is never too difficult – especially if Newcastle is your destination.

Below, I’ve listed some ideas of how to spend a rainy day (or several) in the city, while you can find information on hotels in Newcastle here.

The Discovery Museum

One of the best places to go when the heavens open is the Discovery Museum, which is in Blandford Square. This brilliant museum is the ultimate place to learn about all things Newcastle and Tyneside, because its collections focus on a wide array of local technological and scientific discoveries, not to mention the area’s maritime history.

The displays change regularly and are interactive, making it a great place to take the kids, but it’s equally fascinating for adults. Coming here, you can find out all about historical fashions, military history and key technological discoveries, including Joseph Swan’s historic lightbulbs (which you can see a replica of in the museum).

Plus, there are dynamic large-scale displays such as the Turbinia, which was invented in Tyneside and was the very first ship to be powered by a steam turbine. The ship sits in the entrance to the museum, making a huge impact as soon as you walk in.

The Garden Shed

Located in historic stables in Gibside in Gateshead is the Garden Shed – an attraction that’s a little hard to describe. It combines arts and crafts with shopping, giving visitors the opportunity to do everything from meet artists and buy crafts to make things and even get a massage!

It’s open from 11:00 to 15:00 every day, with a number of artists always onsite. Because there’s such a lot to do, it’s great for families, while it’s also suitable for multiple visits across your holiday, simply because you can do something different each time you’re here.

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

And if you like the sound of immersing yourself in art on a rainy day, you should definitely head to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, which is in a dramatic building on the bank of the River Tyne.

This is no ordinary art gallery. Indeed, it has no permanent collection, instead offering a diverse mix of temporary exhibitions and events. What’s more, it’s the largest gallery of its kind in the world.

Another great thing about it is that it often features exhibitions by artists from the local community, which means that by coming here you can learn more about local art as well as international works.

Blue Reef Aquarium

One of the best things to do if you’re travelling with children, a trip to Blue Reef Aquarium cannot fail to delight parents and kids alike. You’ll find it on Tynemouth’s Grand Parade, where it’s open from 10:00 to 17:00 seven days a week.

Talks and feeding displays take place throughout the day, which gives everyone the chance to learn a bit more about the creatures they see. In the tanks here you’ll come face to face with a great variety of marine life, including playful California sea lions, harbour seals, toothsome black tip reef sharks and adorable otters.

Plus, over in the Amazonian exhibit, you can see monkeys – not your usual aquarium resident! These include the cotton top tamarin, which is a critically endangered species and one children are bound to be enchanted by.

Tintagel: the castle and beyond

If you love myths, legends and history, then a staycation is absolutely bound to suit you. Why? Because there are so many wonderful castles and other characterful historical sites to explore right here in the UK. In my opinion, if you want the ultimate experience you should make a beeline for Tintagel Castle, which you’ll find on the north Cornwall coast.

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Below, I’m going to tell you all about this spectacular castle, as well as clue you into a few of the other things you can do in the surrounding area. Meanwhile, if you’re after some practical information on organising your trip, like listings of good places to stay, Sykes Cottages is a really reliable resource.

All about Tintagel Castle

One of the most magical things about Tintagel Castle is that it’s steeped in legend – something that helps to draw visitors year after year. It’s said to be the birthplace of King Arthur, a story that has fascinated locals, visitors and historians alike for around 800 years.

Standing on a really dramatic part of Cornwall’s coastline, the castle occupies what’s known as Tintagel Island. But, despite its name, it’s actually no island, being attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land.

The surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking – think the crashing waves of the coast, dramatic cliffs and wild headlands. In fact, it’s actually the views that a lot of people come up here for! The castle is reached by climbing up around 100 stone steps – a walk that helps get you in the mood for the brooding ruins that await you at the top.

Heavy walls, steep steps and cliff edges will greet you on arrival, and you can walk through the shell of the castle picking your way across cobbles and flagstones, as well as grassy, rocky patches where nature has triumphed over the bastion.

Once you’ve finished exploring the castle itself, you can take a walk to another legendary site, Merlin’s Cave, which is located just below Tintagel Castle. Be careful though – it’s only accessible at low tide; at high tide, it fills with water.

Local sights and attractions

While the castle is what most people come to see, that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to do in Tintagel. The village of the same name, for instance, is an absolutely brilliant place to visit – especially since it has embraced its associations with Merlin with gusto, allowing you to continue the experience you began at the castle.

Things to do in the village include visiting the ancient church of St Materiana’s, which is on Glebe Cliff. An impressive example of Norman architecture, it has barely changed over the past 900 years. What’s more, it’s also home to some fascinating historical artefacts.

It’s also worth paying a visit to Tintagel Old Post Office, which probably sounds odd at first, but this 14th-century building is incredibly atmospheric. Once upon a time, it was a farmhouse, but these days it’s managed by the National Trust and hosts an array of events – most of these are family friendly, so coming here could be a particularly good choice if you’ve got the kids in tow.

And, just as a parting tip, if you’ve got a sweet tooth (like me!) then make sure you don’t leave without heading to Granny Wobbly’s Fudge Pantry – you’ll be bowled over by all the amazing flavours. Plus, all the fudge is made onsite, and in a traditional fashion.

 

Top places to get pub grub in Newcastle

In my opinion, there’s nothing quite like good old-fashioned pub grub. With many of the UK’s pubs struggling to stay afloat and the price of beer sadly rising, many venues are turning to food to help keep their doors open. While I’ve seen lots of places offering fancy fare, personally I think you can’t beat the traditional British classics that have been served in alehouses for years.

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The joy of classic pub grub

For me, the joy of pub grub is threefold. Firstly, if you find somewhere offering fantastic home-cooked food, it just tastes that little bit more authentic and warming than ultra-sophisticated dishes. Secondly, I love the atmosphere of traditional pubs – so welcoming and cosy. Thirdly, pick the right venue and you can pair your pie, fish and chips or sausage and mash with a delicious real ale. What could be better?

Newcastle is a haven of traditional pubs, and if you know where to look you can get some absolutely amazing – but always down to earth and classically British – food. Below, I’ve listed a few of my favourites.

By the way, if you don’t live in or around Newcastle but are intrigued by its pubs (as you should be!), I’d really recommend taking a trip here, even if only overnight or for a few days. There are plenty of affordable hotels in Newcastle, as well as great attractions including breweries, castles and museums.

The Bridge Hotel

First on my list is the Bridge Hotel, which has been going for more than 100 years – pretty impressive, hey? You’ll find it next to the Castle Keep around two minutes away from the scenic quayside, where it regularly hosts live music.

In terms of food and drink, this is a great place to come if you, like me, are a fan of real ales. Regulars include Golden Sheep and Deuchars IPA, while they also have guest ales and craft beers to boot.

Food is served daily and includes home-cooked hot meals as well as delicious sandwiches, and if you come in on a Sunday you also have the option of tucking into a good old British roast. Choose from chicken (my personal favourite), pork or beef.

The Broad Chare

Next up we have the Broad Chare, which you’ll find on the Quayside. This pub prides itself on serving classic British food – and does so with aplomb.

One of my favourite things about this place food-wise is that as well as offering hearty main courses like steak and chips, it also serves up some seriously satisfying snacks. Things like scotch eggs, oysters and hand-raised pork pies – yum. As a testament to its achievements in the kitchen, it snapped up a Michelin Bib Gourmand award in 2012.

There are plenty of cask ales available too; these change regularly, but at the time of writing Black Sheep Bitter and The Writer’s Block were a few of the staples.

The Redhouse

Last on my list is the Redhouse, which is also on the Quayside. This grade II listed building is a traditional pie and mash alehouse, which has the added bonus of having gorgeous views over the Tyne Bridge – presuming you have eyes for anything but pie, that is…

You’ll have three key decisions to make when eating here. Firstly, you’ll need to pick your pie. Options include chicken, gammon and leek, as well as sausage, apple, onion and cider pie. Next up, you’ll need to tackle a mash-based conundrum in deciding whether to go for mustard, cheese or straight-up creamy. Then you need to pick how you’d like your peas and what liquor you’d like the whole lot doused in. Pie perfection!