Sometimes we want to hike up mountains, sometimes we prefer up and down dale and sometimes we love getting to know our favourite cities. At WalkingWomen we want to provide a variety of walks to suit the needs of our many walking women as we introduce to new places and hear interesting stories of women doing great things
This summer, our local guide, Pam shared her love of Newcastle. This was her last walk for WalkingWomen as she retires this year. We were honoured to have her lead ‘ Newcomers to Newcastle’ and here she shares some of the highlights of the trip and what makes WalkingWomen special. Thank you, Pam
“ It was a lovely warm evening as we met at our hotel, right by the river Tyne. Aided by a “Welcome” drink, we quickly started getting to know each other – some of us had met before, and some were new friends in the making. Later we strolled along the quayside for our evening meal at a family-run Italian restaurant.
On our first full day, we walked up into the centre of town to meet up with our guide for our Newcastle City Highlights Walking Tour. We learnt all about the history of Newcastle – its wealth created from the coal, glass-making, pottery and shipbuilding industries. It was a city of visionary architects, engineers, and politicians. A favourite building amongst our group was the Central Arcade, with its early 20th-century tilework, stained glass and mosaic floor – home to the famous Windows music shop.
We visited the Grainger Market, built in 1835, a bustling indoor market housing Marks and Spencer’s Original Penny Bazaar – the world’s smallest Marks & Spencer store.
We walked swiftly through the Weighhouse, where you can still get weighed today!
We were introduced to St Nicholas’ Cathedral and the Castle Keep before heading down Side towards the Guildhall, learning the story of Bessie Surtees, who eloped with John Scott after climbing from her bedroom window.
We ended our tour on the Quayside by the Swing Bridge, hearing about the seven bridges, the Baltic Gallery and Sage music centre.
In the afternoon, we took the bus out to see Anthony Gormley’s impressive Angel of the North. It was a hot day, calling for ice cream before heading back to our hotel.
In the evening, we strolled back into town for dinner in a favourite Turkish restaurant, where we had a lovely meal. In true WalkingWomen style, some of us gathered back at the hotel to enjoy a late drink and cosy chat overlooking the river.
On day 3, we headed off in the direction of Central Station and Old Newcastle. We called into the Lit and Phil Society, where we were made very welcome, and we tried out the Ladies’ sitting room!
After a lovely coffee at the Mining Institute next door, we saw the old Lying-In hospital, created in 1760 by a woman who had left her husband and gone abroad, trying to marry a nun!
We wandered through the Pink Triangle, then past the Tyne Theatre – a listed building, and into Blackfriars, then passing through Chinatown. We ended our walk at the Laing Art Gallery.
In the evening, we had dinner at an Asian restaurant on the river that had been home to the River Police at one time.
We were joined that evening for dinner by Ginny, one of the owners of Walking Women. It was lovely to meet her; the added bonus was that she rounded up the numbers for our quiz teams!
On our last morning, we walked East along the Quayside and then across Glasshouse Bridge into the Ouseburn, looking longingly over to the old Maynards Toffee Factory. This area was once a hive of industry – home to glassworks, mills, whisky distilleries, printworks and potteries – one producing the famous Maling china. Goods were taken down the Ouseburn by boat to ships awaiting on the Tyne. Coal was carried overground and through the Victoria Tunnels via rail to the river.
We mused over the quirky paddle steamer behind Seven Stories bookshop before walking past the Ouseburn Farm and pausing at the Ship Inn – once a quiet little pub frequented by a handful of locals – and now a trendy meeting place.
Once a rundown area, the Ouseburn is now thriving and busy – home to a variety of studios and workshops, quirky bars and eateries.
We made our way up past more artwork in the arches and headed towards the Biscuit Factory – once a warehouse and now a stunning independent art gallery. We had coffees there on the lovely roof terrace, looking out over the East of the city with the renowned Byker Wall standing proud.
It seemed too soon to say Goodbye, but I hope everyone had enjoyed a lovely warm Tyneside welcome!
Look out for our programme of City walks – we have some this year, and there will be more in 2023. We want to discover cities together and hear some of the fascinating stories of women who lived there. Of course, we have Gentleman Jack, but we have a whole lot of other interesting women role models to share.