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. We are advised to stay local, so all of these are local North East walks, and well within a days driving distance. With the restrictions in place some of them now require timed ticketed entry so I’ve included those details and the availability. Here’s my suggestions for North East walks for Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
We’ve all walked ourselves to death this year I think, but getting some fresh air always gives you a lift, and it might be the only way to see some people over this festive period as we can meet up to six outside.
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.
Parking For both: Beaconsfield Car Park, Sea Banks Car Park, Tynemouth Front Street.
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.
A short walk but still pleasant will take you right the way around the Royal Quays marina.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more details on this stretch, particularly for Embleton Bay, Beadnell and Seahouses visit this page on the Your Northumberland website which breaks it down really well into different stages of the full coastal walk.
Bamburgh Beach & Castle
Although I haven’t been here for years, I can’t overlook Bamburgh beach and castle. Often voted one of the most beautiful castles and stretch of coast in the UK, it really is beautiful year round. The castle is closed at the moment but the beach walk is still worth the drive up there.
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.
Enjoy a colourful walk through Ouseburn valley, where you’ll fine all the local street art, and a number of pop up or takeaway bars and cafes. 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.
A number of places here feature on my where to get takeaway mulled wine in Newcastle post.
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 this year, 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.
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.
I went to Jesmond Dene last year when it had snowed and it was absolutely gorgeous. I doubt we will get a White Christmas but it’s somewhere that traffic doesn’t spoil if we do get snow.
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.
This National Trust estate is close to Rowland’s Gill and Gateshead, located in the Derwent Valley. The Georgian house itself isn’t open at the moment, but the grounds, woodland trails and play areas are. You can only access with a timed entry ticket, and although they are sold out for Boxing Day they do have availability left for New Year’s Day.
Book your ticket and timed entry on the National Trust Gibside page here.
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.
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.
Although the full Hadrian’s Wall walk is 84 miles long, that might be a bit heavy for Boxing Day or New Year’s Day walks. There are shorter sections of it good for a walk instead, including to the Sycamore Gap otherwise known as the famous Robin Hood tree. It’s been so long since I’ve done it that I’ll leave it to Visit Northumberland to give you all the details.
The Victorian house of Cragside just reminds me of school trips there when I was young, but although the house is closed the grounds are still open to walk around. Like Gibside it is timed ticketed entry as well through the National Trust, and there are tickets available for both Boxing Day and New Years Day at the moment.
Book your timed entry ticket for Cragside here.
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.
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 this year when we went glamping at Hill Top Huts near Barnard Castle, and when we went to Raby Castle last month to see the deer. There is a huge landscape of places to explore and walks to do, but I’ll keep it to the two I’ve personally done.
Like other places the castle itself is closed, but the grounds and Deer Park are open and it’s a lovely walk around through the grounds. 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.
Let’s hope in 2021 I can see much more of the Durham area, and tick a few more North East walks off the list. If you’re wanting to do any that require tickets I wouldn’t leave it too late to book, even if you’re looking for days other than Boxing and New Year’s Day as availability was pretty slim. And I hope if you do any of them you get good winter weather to enjoy it.
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