…A flying visit to the Angel of the North. (Ok, ok I know that’s in Gateshead but it’s close enough!)
This time a year ago I was combining business with pleasure with a weekend break in Newcastle , so here’s my run down on a trip to the North East.
When I was young my father worked in Gateshead and as often as possible we would make the trip up to see him from York where we were living. So when the rugby team I work for drew the Newcastle Falcons in the Challenge Cup I decided it was the perfect excuse for a family trip back to the scene of so many happy memories.
Luka, my mother and me would be travelling up from South Wales and meeting my sister and her family in Newcastle, but how to get there? After discounting driving (I didn’t fancy the 14+ hour round trip) it was down to the train or plane.
Because of my late father’s job, my Mum gets free train travel and as Luka was under 5 he travelled free on the train. However for me it would have cost almost £200 and I could get a flight from Bristol for under £70. While I would always rather have Luka with me (I get lonely without him!), financially it made more sense for him to travel with Grandma. Not only did I not have to pay for him to fly, I also saved on petrol and airport parking as I travelled to the airport on the team bus.
TOP TIP – Investigate different ways to travel even within the UK. By checking Skyscanner you can often pick up really cheap flights which can save you money on petrol even if there’s 2 of you, and they can be huge time savers too. A 40 minute flight versus 6 or 7 hours in the car, no contest!
We stayed in the Novotel and it was very reasonable (around £100 per room for 2 nights B&B and airport transfers!) while also being a nice standard chain hotel, and it was super child friendly. The staff were great, there’s a small pool and in the lobby there’s a lovely little children’s area with toys and books. The only downside being it’s a few miles outside of the city centre and a taxi in costs around £10. There is a metro stop about 10 minutes walk away but in the rain with a small person I didn’t fancy that option.
We had a little walk around the city centre and I have to say while it’s a great city it’s not the best for small people, as there’s not too much to do.
However it’s a great spot for exploring the North East. So rent a car and get out and about! Kielder Water is just over an hour away and there’s lots to do there for the whole family from ferry rides to horse riding. If you’re a shopping family, head to the Metrocentre, where there’s a play area for the kids and a lot of great shops. Also worth a visit is the Beamish Museum, just 25 minutes away from Newcastle. These are places that I have such fond memories of from my own childhood (I’m still excited about the fact I got to pilot the Kielder Ferry, some 20+ years later) and have really stood the test of time.
If you or your little ones like sport, one final trip I’d recommend is a visit to watch the Newcastle Falcons play (just half a mile from the Novotel). I’ve been to rugby clubs right across the UK and I have to say it’s one of the friendliest and most welcoming I’ve been too. All three generations of my family, with varying levels of interest in rugby, really enjoyed their evening there, and not just because they got to drink cider whilst I worked hard!
All in all, I’d definitely recommend a trip to Newcastle, and a stay at the Novotel, with the family but get a car to take full advantage of the area.