As it’s tradition to go for a brisk, cold walk on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, to blow the cobwebs away and walk off all the festive food, I thought I’d share some options for across the North East. All of these are North East walks, and well within a days driving distance. One or two of them do require timed and ticketed entry so I’ve included those details, and it’s worth mentioning that some I would have loved to include are actually closed due to Storm Arwen so I’ve included details on that too. Here’s my suggestions for North East walks for between Christmas and New Year.
Remember when all we were allowed to do was go for a walk? At least this year it’s genuinely just because we want to, and getting some fresh air always gives you a lift when you feel a bit sluggish after a few too many pigs in blankets. I’ll start with some beach and coastal North East walks as they’re always so scenic, then I’ll go on to some inland walks at specific locations and rivers.
North Tyneside Coastal Walks
Beautiful, rugged, and wild beaches line our fabulous North East coast, so there are a lot of lovely beach walks to choose from. When you live by the coast it’s easy to stick to the ones you know that are on your doorstep, so it’s sometimes nice to go a bit further afield for a change of scenery.
Tynemouth Longsands & King Edwards Bay
Tynemouth Longsands is a mile long, uninterrupted sandy beach perfect for dog walking, surfing or a dip in the sea if you’re brave. King Edwards Bay is just next door and is a bit more sheltered due to the high cliffs that surround it. Grab a coffee at either end and enjoy the walk along. We get some gorgeous sunrises and sunsets here in the winter so that’s a good time when it’s a bit quieter too.
Parking For both: Beaconsfield Car Park, Sea Banks Car Park, Tynemouth Front Street.
Nearby pub: Anywhere on Front Street, or Copperfields at The Grand Hotel
Tynemouth Priory & Collingwood Monument
Walk up to see Tynemouth Priory castle that sits above King Edwards Bay, follow the path around passed the sailing club to the North pier – if it’s open you can walk along but it’s often shut in winter with the weather and high waves, then follow the grass banks to Collingwood Monument and back round.
Parking: Tynemouth Shore car park, Tynemouth Front Street are the closest.
North Shields & The Fish Quay
From the Tynemouth Shore car park you can also walk right along the coastal path to the North Shields fish quay. The fish quay in itself is a nice walk as there are two small sandy beach sections that look right out the mouth of the Tyne between the two piers, before passing the row of bars and restaurants and the little harbour on the river. Grab some fish and chips, tacos or tapas from any of the chippy’s, Lobo Rojo and Allards.
Parking: Either Tynemouth Shore car park, or there is parking on the fish quay itself at Low Lights car park.
Nearby pub: The Ships Cat
A short walk but still pleasant will take you right the way around the Royal Quays marina. If kids have new bikes or cars it’s a good spot as there’s no traffic at all.
Whitley Bay Beach
Whitley Bay beach is another lovely sandy beach, with a rocky section where people build cairns, a skate park and bridge walkway at one section too. A good long stretch to walk along from the Spanish City right up to St Mary’s Lighthouse.
Parking: Dukes Walk car park is the closest but it’s been closed for work recently. Other options are Whitley Bay car park, parking at the Spanish City, or Ocean View car park.
Read my full locals guide to Whitley Bay here.
Nearby pub: Either Spanish City or I’d go into Whitley Bay/Monkseaton for a drink at Left Luggage in Monkseaton metro station
Spanish City & Whitley Bay Promenade
For a coastal walk without getting too sandy you can stay up on the top along Whitley Bay promenade, that directly passes and runs from Spanish City. The Whitley Bay links grassy areas have plenty of paths too, that then turn into the paved, wide walkway that runs right along the front of Whitley Bay.
Parking: Spanish City car park.
St Mary’s Lighthouse
As long as the tide isn’t in you can walk along the path to St Mary’s Island, or go rockpooling either side on the sandy and rocky beaches. If the tide is in there’s plenty of paths along the top too. Look out for the seals that can often be seen on the rocks around the back of the island, but don’t try and get too close.
Parking: St Mary’s Island car park.
Nearby pub: Briar Dene
Northumberland Coastal Walks
The Northumberland coastline has some absolutely stunning sights, including majestic castles and iconic landmarks, as well as a run of coves and bays. Here’s some to visit.
Another sandy beach, also lined with sand dunes where you might spot some wildlife. Walk along past the colourful beach huts, the surf school and the yacht club.
Parking: Mermaid Cafe or Ridley Park car park
Druridge Bay Country Park
Druridge Bay is a 9 mile stretch of coast from Cresswell right up to Amble, and there are multiple walking opportunities both along the sandy, sand duned beach or within the park around the lake and woodland areas.
There are lots of facilities available for any walk you choose to do, whether that be along the 3 mile sandy stretch of beach, or a circle route the full way round Ladyburn Lake. There is plenty car parking for the walk around the lake, and a cafe and kids play area with picnic benches outside.
As this is quite a big area with various walks depending on distance and ability, have a look for more details on the Visit Northumberland webpages for Druridge Bay here.
Hauxley Beach & Nature Reserve
Walk directly along or among the sand dunes of Hauxley Beach, or do a nature trail wildlife spotting through the Hauxley Nature reserve.
Nearby pub: The Wellwood in Amble
Grab some fish and chips, or a Geordie Banger from the pod shops right by the harbour, before walking the paths that go right into the bay. You might be lucky and spot some seals playing in the water, we did just last weekend.
I suppose this isn’t technically a beach walk but it’s right on the coast so I’ll include it here. Park up by the river in Warkworth and you can walk right along past the castle, and back round into the village. I love this walk.
Nearby pub: The Masons or The Sun, both great.
Craster, Dunstanburgh Castle, Embleton Bay & Seahouses
I’ve grouped this section together as the Northumberland coastline north from Craster can be walked in sections, through each location and finishing at Seahouses. The walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle was one of my favourite walks of the summer, and I’ve wrote about it in a lot more detail here. Park up in Craster and after a wander around the village and harbour, walk along the grassy path right up to and around Dunstanburgh Castle.
If you want to go much further along the coastline, you can continue on to Embleton Bay known for it’s bird watching opportunities, on again to Beadnell, and again to Seahouses.
Nearby pub: The Jolly Fisherman in Craster
We absolutely loved walking along Beadnell Beach in the summer, it was beautiful. The huge stretch of sand was perfect for a dog walk. Parking is right by the entrance path to the beach at post code NE67 5EE. There were food huts and coffee vans in the car park in summer, but I’d recommend a drink in the Craster Arms in Beadnell village after your walk instead, it’s just a 2 minute drive.
For more details on this stretch, particularly for Embleton Bay and Seahouses visit this page on the Your Northumberland website which breaks it down really well into different stages of the full coastal walk.
Nearby pub: Craster Arms or Beadnell Towers
Bamburgh Beach & Castle
Bamburgh beach and castle is often voted one of the most beautiful castles and stretch of coast in the UK, and it really is beautiful year round. The castle is currently all decorated for Christmas, have a look at Melis’ instagram post here, but a walk either around the town and the castle, or along Bamburgh beach is a great walk. Make sure you wrap up though as you’re right out in the elements.
Nearby pub: The Castle Inn or The Lord Crewe
Newcastle Upon Tyne Walks
Moving away from the coast now here’s some city walks and parks right on our doorstep.
You can’t beat a walk along the Newcastle quayside on a cold sunny day, right along past all the bridges, and over a couple of them if you want views up and down the river. The Millennium bridge is pedestrian and cycle only so is the better one to walk across, especially for views of the Tyne Bridge.
Parking: Quayside Multi-storey car park, Sandgate Car park, Dean Street car park.
Nearby pub: Loads but my favourite is the Broad Chare
Enjoy a colourful walk through Ouseburn valley, where you’ll fine all the local street art, and a number of bars and cafes to stop at for a coffee or takeaway. You can walk right through and come out on the Quayside to either extend your walk along there or turn around and go back through Ouseburn.
Parking: Ouseburn Arches car park, or Sandgate car park on the quayside and walk the opposite direction.
Read more on the Ouseburn here.
A favourite of mine, especially in Autumn when the colours were lovely. Walk right through the dene past pets corner and along to the waterfall and old mill wheel. There’s a picnic area and field too. It can get busy but I find first thing it’s really peaceful as long as there isn’t the park run on. If you’re lucky it might snow and then it’s absolutely beautiful.
You could also walk over Armstrong Bridge which is quite scenic over the Dene below, and you can actually walk right along to Ouseburn from Jesmond Dene too if you wanted a longer walk.
Parking along the bank and under the bridge at the entrance to Jesmond Dene by pets corner.
Exhibition Park, the Town Moor, Leazes Park and Heaton Park are all big green parks or spaces to walk through close to or in the city centre.
Saltwell Park is Gateshead side of the river but it’s also a good option.
Rising Sun Country Park
Right next to Asda Benton, the Rising Sun has a number of walking trails that go through it, up to the hill that overlooks the city, and around the lake. Spot the resident deer that lives in the field with the horses, as well as some of the wildlife that lives within the park itself. There are cycle routes as well as walks too.
Parking: On site parking right next to Asda car park.
National Trust Walks
This National Trust estate is close to Rowland’s Gill and Gateshead, located in the Derwent Valley. The 18th Century grounds, woodland trails and play areas are all open and no longer require a timed entry ticket. Winter walks at Gibside could take you through the woodland trails, or for beautiful valley views. The car park, the gardens and the cafe are open from 10-3:30pm every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Dogs are welcome on leads and at the outdoor cafe seating.
More information on the specific walks at Gibside can be found here.
Wallington Hall & Estate
The Wallington Hall estate has five main walks to enjoy across 20 square miles, including a river walk and a farm walk. Expect to see lots of wildlife here, including red squirrels if you’re lucky. Find more details on all the walks at Wallington here.
I’m including this just to let you know that all walks at Cragside are currently closed due to the damage caused by Storm Arwen a couple of weeks ago. Such a shame as it’s such a beautiful area. Hopefully it will be safe for visitors again soon.
I’ve explored a lot more of Northumberland this year, but still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Here’s just a handful of the walks you could do between Christmas and New Year.
Another favourite Northumberland village and riverside of mine to walk along. Park in the main car park by the bridge, and go for a walk as far or short along the river as you fancy. There’s a proper path and more of a riverside path. After you’ve been along there cross the bridge and go into the town for a walk around there too, it’s very festive at the moment and there are some lovely shops.
Nearby pub: The Angel or The Dyvels
Found five miles south of Morpeth, Plessey Woods has both woodland and the Blyth riverside to wander along. Keep your eyes peeled for the resident birds and squirrels especially close to the river. It can get quite boggy here so be careful especially if you have a dog.
Although the full Hadrian’s Wall walk is 84 miles long, that might be a bit heavy! There are shorter sections of it good for a walk instead, including to the Sycamore Gap otherwise known as the famous Robin Hood tree. I did part of this walk including Sycamore Gap in October, we parked at The Sill visitor centre and walked along the wall from there. For full details read this blog post including info on the lovely food at the cafe for after your walk.
Also mentioned in the same blog post is Housesteads Fort. Although this is an English Heritage site, and one of the the most preserved fort from Roman times, it’s still a short walk from the visitors centre uphill. Dogs are allowed here, and I’d recommend a hot chocolate from the cafe after your visit.
The landscape sculpture known as the Lady of the North is open daily until 5pm, and can be found just near Cramlington. Use postcode NE23 8AU to find it and enjoy a quarter of a mile walk around this artistic lady lying in the Northumberland countryside.
I would usually include many more Northumberland National Park walks here, but after the damage caused by Storm Arwen many of them aren’t open or they’re advising it’s unsafe to walk them. If you have a walk in mind please check this page on the Northumberland National Park website for the most up to date information especially if we have more adverse weather.
County of Durham
Of all the North East walks I have to be honest and say I haven’t seen nearly as much of Durham and the area as I would have liked to, only really twice last year when we went glamping at Hill Top Huts near Barnard Castle, and when we went to Raby Castle to see the deer. There is a huge landscape of places to explore and walks to do, but I’ll keep it to the one I’ve personally done.
Raby Castle is back open this year, as are the grounds and Deer Park. It’s a lovely walk through the grounds and garden. The deer are so impressive, I loved seeing them and the reindeer. After a walk around you can get a hot chocolate or drink from the takeaway kiosk, and take it into the walled garden.
High Force Waterfall
Despite being a a waterfall in the Durham Dales, you do have to book a ticket to get along to see it. The path gets quite narrow in places so I think that’s why so it doesn’t get overcrowded, but it’s not too long of a walk. The waterfall at the end is great to see, I imagine a lot more so at this time of year when it’s fully flowing.
Nearby pub: High Force Hotel
I’m including this because it’s quite a walk around the whole of Beamish if you walk it rather than get the tram. I took Arthur at the weekend and loved walking the whole way through the old town, the elf trail and the rest of the open air museum.
Read my full post on Beamish here.
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