The North East of England is well-known for cities like Newcastle upon Tyne and Durham where clubbing university students are able to buy alcoholic drinks at relatively cheap prices. Visitors to the region would normally visit the two cities in the first instance before heading out to popular touristy destinations such as Edinburgh or lesser-known towns in Scotland. If you intend to spend some time in Newcastle and/or Durham, you might want to consider visiting the following offbeat and lesser-known villages/towns. These destinations can be found by using a simple Google Maps search and are reachable by car. There are a few reasonably-priced hotels in Newcastle and you can check out the Sandman Signature Hotel located in the Newcastle city centre – we have previously stayed at the hotel for a nightly rate of around USD 100 inclusive of breakfast (base room).
Seaham is a scenic coastal town located about 19 miles south east of Newcastle. Landmarks include the “Tommy” WWI statue and the Heritage and Lifeboat centre in which the George Elmy is on display. There are numerous bars, cafés and restaurants along its picturesque sea front. You can also head over to a nearby outlet shopping centre (Dalton Park) located approximately 4 miles south west of Seaham.
Though Yarm is officially a part of Yorkshire, it is reachable by car (≈42 miles south of Newcastle). It is a relatively posh market town with quaint coffee shops and restaurants along its high street. A place of interest is the Yarm Viaduct which is Grade 2 listed on the National Heritage List for England.
Blyth is another coastal town located in Northumberland, approximately 13 miles north east of Newcastle. It is well-known for its fish and chip restaurants, quayside and coloured beach huts. It also has a vibrant high street with a popular market, independent stalls and local food outlets.
4. Penshaw & Herrington Country Park
Penshaw is home to the Penshaw monument which was built in 1844 in honour of the first Earl of Durham, John George Lambton. It has been suggested that it is a replica of the ancient Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. Opposite the monument is Herrington Country Park, a very scenic park built on the site of a former collier. Penshaw and the park are located about 5 miles east from the Sunderland city centre.
Morpeth is a posh market town with elegant highstreets, shopping centres and upscale bars. It makes for a good stopping point if you are driving from Newcastle (15 miles north) to Scotland.
Blanchland (located about 27 miles west of Newcastle) is a quaint ‘honey-stone’ village with a well-known local hotel cum pub (The Lord Crewe Arms). We discovered this village when we joined a local “rambling” (i.e. hiking/walking in the countryside) group. The Lord Crewe Arms is a stunning pub and highly recommended for a visit.
Harnham is home to a unique Buddhist monastery (16 miles northwest of Newcastle). You can read more about the monastery on our previous post. If you happened to drive from Newcastle to Harnham, we would recommend stopping by the Blackbird in Ponteland (a well-known pub frequented by many Newcastle celebrities).
For trips to the popular Alnwick Castle from Newcastle via public transportation, check out our guide which is outlined in this blogpost here.
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