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Newcastle and Gateshead

Newcastle is joined to go-ahead Gateshead by fine bridges over the Tyne.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 1hr 15min

Ascent/gradient 131ft (40m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Pavements and steps

Landscape City centre, on banks of River Tyne

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne; AA Street-by-Street Newcastle upon Tyne

Start/finish NZ 258638

Dog friendliness On lead; probably not a dog's idea of fun

Parking Car park east of Baltic - the Centre for Contemporary Art

Public toilets Baltic and several in Newcastle centre

1 From the car park, follow the quayside path beside Baltic - The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Millennium Bridge into Baltic Square, then bear left up steps to the road. Turn right along the road, passing beneath the Tyne Bridge. At the traffic-lights, turn right and walk over the Swing Bridge,

2 Cross the road, bearing left, and take the steps up the hill. They go left, then emerge under an archway in front of the castle keep. Go round the left-hand side of the keep, and under the railway arch. The 13th-century Black Gate, the castle's gatehouse, is ahead. Notice the picturesque brick house, of about 1620, perched on the top.

3 Cross the road on your left and follow Westgate Street, parallel with the railway line. Continue ahead under the buildings that form an arch across the street, but look left to see the façade of Newcastle's fine railway station, a masterpiece by Newcastle architect John Dobson. By St John's Church on the right, turn right up Grainger Street.

4 Follow Grainger Street as far as the Grey Monument. Turn right down Grey Street. At Mosley Street turn right. At the traffic-lights, turn left by the tower of the Cathedral of St Nicholas with its rare 'crown'. Bear left, downhill, with the Black Gate to your right. The road descends to go under a railway arch. Continue ahead to the Quayside, where markets are held and much of Newcastle's pulsating nightlife is centred.

5 Turn left and follow the Quayside as far as the Millennium Bridge. Cross the bridge, then turn left, back to Baltic.

Bridges over the Tyne are a powerful icon for Geordies everywhere, and this walk includes the newest and the best. Symbol of Newcastle throughout the world, the semicircular Tyne Bridge was built between 1925 and 1928 by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough. Further on is Robert Stephenson's High Level Bridge, with both rail and road crossings, which was completed in 1849.

The Swing Bridge was built by the great local engineering firm of Armstrong. It weighs 1,450 tons and is powered by Armstrong's hydraulic engines. When it opened in 1876 it was the largest swing bridge in the world. At the end of the bridge, look right to see the half-timbered Bessie Surtees House, now cared for by English Heritage. It is a fine group of former merchants' houses and shops, rare survivors of 17th-century Newcastle.

The Millennium Bridge, opened in 2001and winner of the Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2002, it has a unique 'blinking eye' mechanism that tilts to let ships go beneath it.

The castle was new, and gave its name to the city, in 1080. Founded by William the Conqueror's illegitimate son, Robert Curthose, it was rebuilt 100 years later for Henry II. Inside the keep are some fine medieval chambers and a small chapel. The Victorians built the railway straight through the castle - no wonder the Queen kept her carriage blinds down when she travelled through the city.

This area of Newcastle was developed by Richard Grainger in the first half of the 19th century, and has fine classically-inspired buildings. Grainger Market, with entrances on your left-hand side as you approach the Grey Monument, was the heart of his grand scheme, and is worth a visit for its impressive interior. The tall Grey Monument, the heart of Grainger's planning and of Newcastle, is 135ft (41m) high, and commemorates the parliamentary reformer Earl Grey. Grey Street, off Grainger Street, often called the finest street in Europe, it is lined with elegant classical buildings, and curves satisfyingly as it descends. The portico of the Theatre Royal forms an excellent punctuation mark.

For an excellent overview of the area - before or after the walk - make the most of the lookouts at Baltic - The Centre for Contemporary Art. This former flour mill is now an arts centre and a landmark building, with observation platforms at various levels providing wonderful views over Newcastle and Gateshead.

Where to eat and drink

There is no shortage of choice in Newcastle and Gateshead, from lively pubs and small cafés to grand hotels and exclusive restaurants. At the start and finish of the walk, Baltic has a good restaurant and a café-bar.

What to look for

The Newcastle and Gateshead area is well-served by public transport, especially with its Metro system, the first rapid-transit electric railway in Britain. Partly underground, and with its hub at Monument Station beneath the statue to Earl Grey at the top of Grey Street, its first section was opened in 1981. Partially using existing rail lines, tunnels and bridges (which had to be upgraded and strengthened in a massive engineering effort) it was extended first to Newcastle Airport at Woolsington and later to Washington and Sunderland. Linking with local bus services, and with stops at Newcastle Central Station, Gateshead Station and Sunderland, the Metro has 40 million passenger journeys each year. The stations are indicated by a black letter M on a yellow background.

While you're there

Visit some of Newcastle and Gateshead's museums and galleries. They include Newcastle University's Museum of Antiquities, with Roman artefacts; the Hancock Museum, for natural history; the Laing Art Gallery, with stunning Victorian paintings; and Discovery, with a lively view of the city's history.

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