Mid-way through the school Easter holidays we welcomed our friends The Speeds (Chris, Jaime, Mollie and Emily) from their home in Great Yarmouth. Quite a few of our recent blog posts will feature them.
On their second full day, there was a break from the rain and we decided to go on another Treasure Trail, this time one called ‘The Banks of the Tyne’. We previously enjoyed ‘The Dancing Sand‘ trail at the start of the year around my parents home in South Shields and this time we chose a one even closer to home around the historic quayside area. We were keen to show our friends a bit of ‘hidden’ Newcastle and nothing shows off our home town more that the impressive Tyne and Millennium bridges.
Baltic Square and Quayside
This hunt was themed on a murder mystery, with several suspects and weapons, and a correct answer crossed one of them off. Armed with a pencil and and our map we took the Q3 bus directly from Great Park down to the Quayside (£3.50 for an all day ticket, £1.10 for children with a Pop card)
After stopping for a coffee and snack at Quay Ingredient, we crossed the Millennium Bridge and headed to our start point Baltic Square. Here two suspects could be eliminated and we discovered a large and very interesting metal sculpture dedicated to William Blake which I’d never seen before – you see you definitely do discover new things on these trails!
At this point with four energetic girls all keen to cross off the suspects and weapons, we needed a system…and you could tell who works in the education sector with small children as Jaime came up with a fair order of crossing off! Order re-established!
All Saints Church
We crossed back over the Millennium Bridge and headed back towards the Tyne Bridge. Crossing off more suspects at the Customs House and then up King Street. We then headed up a steep set of stairs (burning off that flapjack!) and went into All Saints Church yard where we solved more clues. I have to say it all felt a bit Scooby Doo in there and I was happy when we headed back to the relative safety of surrounding 1960’s architecture.
Our next stop was the Holy Jesus Hospital, a 700 year old building in the heart of city. This building serves as the National Trusts office of their Inner City Project and has had many uses over the years from a friary, a private home, a hospital and a soup kitchen. In this area the girls had to add up the number of arches and windows to come up with their clue. We spent some time taking some photos of the girls posing in the doorways.
Pilgrim Street, High Bridge and the Bigg Market
Passing through the subway we moved further into the town centre and away from the River-crossing clues off along the way. Heading down High Bridge and crossing Grey Street we eliminated more people along the way.
We showed Chris the Bigg Market and pointed to some of the dodgy bars we used to frequent in our teenage years. So much of it had changed since the last time I’d been on a night out and was looking much better. We decided The Gentleman looked good for our kid free night out on the Saturday. Filthy McNasty’s (formerly Blu Bambu) also looked interesting with the claim of live music and the fact it was locked behind a cage-maybe another one for the list? Alan recalled a time when he had been refused entry into Blu Bambu as he didn’t have an ID and was about 26 at the time… hmmm this never happened to me! This was added to the story about him being refused entry into Mood (now Za-Za Bazaar) for wearing trainers. We were definitely more at home in the indie / alternative bars.
The New Castle
Heading down the cattle market we crossed through the Black Gate and past into the Castle grounds. At this point, Alan was worried we were in the fee paying territory (the castle was renovated and re-opened as a tourist attraction in 2015) but this wasn’t the case. All of the clues could be solved in the free accessible area! Phew
The route took a bit of an interesting turn and we headed back down between the Bridge Hotel and the old Law Courts down onto the river. These stairs led to a former well and this area was so hidden that the place smelt strongly of cannabis, and was littered with dumped take-away cartons, smashed glass amongst other stuff! Not pleasant! Well it can’t all be glamorous.
Heading down the stairs, we were soon back on the Quayside which looks great with the new bars and restaurant down there. One for the bucket list is House of Tides, which I’ve only heard rave reviews about since it opened. A clue was solved on the pillar of the high level bridge on a roundabout and we found Neptune on the back of the old Fish Market (now the Riverside club) .
Swing Bridge and Sage Music Centre
The final part of the trail saw us cross over the Swing Bridge and up past the St Mary’s Heritage Centre, where a lovely set of iron seats had been commissioned for the anniversary of the ending of World War 1. The seat offered a great view of the bridges and the clue involved a true life event where the fire from a building on the Newcastle side was enough to melt the railings on the Gateshead side!
Our last clue was found in the foyer of the Sage and we enjoyed a 10 minute look around the shop and at the view. As we were heading back into town for our tea and the kids were shattered. We jumped back on the Q2 bus and were soon having a much deserved wine.
The Treasure Trail took around 3 hours to complete and I won’t give away the suspect and weapon in case you want to try it for yourself! and you can find the exact trail here.