CYCLING IN NEWCASTLE
In recent years and since the COVID-19 pandemic especially, cycling has seen a surge in popularity but you don’t need to be a Lyra-convert to enjoy a few hours in the saddle.
The world’s leading independent travel publisher, Bradt Guides, launches its new Cycling in Northumbria next month! Featuring 21 fantastic regional routes it’s a source of day trip inspiration.
If you worried about cycling on roads, you’ll be excited to hear that North East England actually offers a great variety of traffic-free cycle routes.
We’ve put together three of our favourite bike tours around Newcastle for you to explore!
WHY GO ON A PRIVATE GUIDED CYCLING TOUR?
The simplest answer is that you can see a lot more than you would on a walking tour!
You can cover much longer distance and see great places in the suburbs and surrounds of Newcastle.
It’s a fun and active way to explore, especially if you’re travelling in a small group.
It’s hassle-free – we organise the bike hire so you just turn up on the day.
We can even organise bike collection if we’re ending in a different place than we started.
You don’t need to worry about maps, getting lost or worry about traffic. We’ve carefully selected routes that are scenic and mostly traffic-free that offer interesting landmarks, picturesque parks, and some quirky neighbourhoods along the way.
It’s an active way to see the city and beyond burning a few calories (work it out using this bike calorie calculator), but the routes are mostly flat and there are plenty of stops along the way where we’ll tell you interesting facts and anecdotes and give some time for breaks and refreshments.
BIKE TOUR 1: POSH PARKS AND THE TOON
Our Posh Parks And the Toon Cycling Tour is our shortest guided cycling tour taking in the city’s sights, quirky suburbs, and some of the most beautiful inner-city green spaces. This circular route takes approximately 3 hours.
Start your tour with a leisurely ride through Ouseburn, former cradle of industrialisation turned vibrant creative and cultural hub with exciting developments including attractions such as the beautiful Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books and the fabulous Victoria Tunnel, a 19th century underground waggonway converted air-raid shelter during World War Two.
Continue across Heaton Park into the picturesque Jesmond Dene. Once the private garden of one of the city’s most prolific 19th century industrialists, Lord Armstrong and now a haven for those seeking escapism in the middle of the city. Cycle through the breath-taking gorge-like valley park and see the adorable Pet’s Corner, and old ruined mill building, the boutique hotel Jesmond Dene House before taking a turn through arguably the “poshest” suburb of Newcastle.
Journey onto the vast Town Moor, larger than New York’s City Park and host of Newcastle’s biggest annual events: The Hoppings, Europe’s biggest travelling fun fair and the largest half-marathon in the world, the Great North Run. Oddly you’ll find it populated with hundreds of cattle thanks to ancient grazing rights still upheld today. Take a break in the Urban Green Café near the Palace of Arts, today home to one of the Toon’s best known breweries, Wylam Brewery.
Last but not least explore the University Quarter (home to both Newcastle University and Northumbria Uni), classical Grainger Town and Grey Street with its gorgeous sandstone buildings, the notorious Bigg Market and the impressive Newcastle Castle Keep, Newcastle’s name giver. Take in the quayside with its iconic seven bridges crossing the High Level Bridge, a world’s first in its design! Before re-crossing to your starting point at Millenium Bridge enjoy exciting contemporary architecture including the concert venue and philharmonic Sage Gateshead and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
BIKE TOUR 2: DOWN THE TYNE: ROMAN HERITAGE & SHIP BUILDING, HISTORIC FISH QUAY AND GLORIOUS SEAFOOD
On this linear and mostly flat 4-hour riverside cycling tour route we’ll follow the Tyne down to its mouth and explore Tyneside’s Roman and Shipbuilding Heritage. It includes a seafood stop in the former fishing village North Shields before ending with glorious views and beaches in Tynemouth.
Follow Hadrian’s Wall, the line of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire to its easternmost fort, Segedunum. But you’ll not only see Roman remains here but also former buildings and history of one of the most prolific shipbuilding yards on the Tyne. Swan Hunter famously built the RMS Mauretania, which held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing. Hunter’s are also famed with building RMS Carpathia which rescued survivors from RMS Titanic.
In Middle English word “Shields” meaning “temporary sheds or huts used by fishermen” gave North Shields its name. Discover its fascinating Historic Fish Quay, iconic lighthouses and the treacherous Black Middens that caused many a shipwreck on the Tyne before digging into some fresh, local seafood!
Your bikes will be collected at Tynemouth so why not soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the vibes of the quirky Tynemouth Antique Market before hopping onto the Metro to return to Newcastle in your own time.
BIKE TOUR 3: AFTERNOON TEA WITH THE “UNHAPPY COUNTESS”: GIBSIDE AND THE LAND OF OAK AND IRON
This 4-hour bike tour (coming in 2023!) follows the Tyne upriver and then continues along the gorgeous Derwent Valley. Stops along the way illustrate the importance of coal, railways and iron to the region’s industrial heyday, its return to nature with some fascinating wildlife and a visit to a grand Georgian estate.
Begin your journey with fantastic views of the iconic bridges of Newcastle and transformed quayside and follow the Tyne upriver to the suburb of Dunston. Believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe, Dunston Staiths, once shifted large quantities of coal from rail to waiting colliers ready for their journey to London and abroad.
After passing the busy Metro Centre area, once the largest shopping mall in Europe, you’ll be amazed how quickly the urban surrounds turn rural following the Derwent Valley Railway path into the Land of Oak and Iron. This was once a cradle of the Industrial Revolution with a booming iron and steel industry. Today, whilst interesting industrial remnants still scatter the landscape, nature has reclaimed the environment and the valley offers fabulous woodlands, riverbanks and grasslands attracting a diversity of wildlife including otters, deer and red kites. Here we’ll stop at Winlaton Heritage Centre.
Following the meandering course of the Derwent we continue to National Trust Gibside. This National Trust property was once the grand Georgian estate of coal magnate George Bowes. We will look at the ruins of its grand hall, walled garden and the beautiful chapel set among this landscaped parkland. Hear about the tragic and shocking fate of his only daughter, Mary Eleanor dubbed the “Unhappy Countess” before enjoying a well-earned slice of cake and cup of tea.
Your bikes will be collected from here and you can return to Newcastle at leisure (there are frequent public busses back to the ctiy).
You can explore more about the history and heritage of this part of the region within one of our other cycling tour blogs.