One day when I was at the office where I was working part-time to earn money for my travels, I received a call from home. My mom at the other end of the line, thousands of kilometers away in India, made my day by delivering some exciting news. After that I found it quite difficult to stay put and confessed it to my manager. Took some time off and headed out for a walk along the Quayside of Newcastle. My office, thankfully, was right next to the river and on the quieter part of the Quayside.
By definition, Quayside means the reinforced banks next to a water body such as a river. The Newcastle Quayside is on the banks of the River Tyne. It shares the river with the neighboring city, Gateshead, which has its very own Quayside as well. But Newcastle Quayside is more happening and picturesque when compared to Gateshead. That’s majorly because I love Newcastle and also because from the Newcastle Quayside, you can stand next to the river and gaze at the beautiful buildings on the Gateshead Quayside. Whereas from Gateshead Quayside you can only gaze at the pub-laden Quayside of Newcastle. I think Newcastle planners have played smart here. :)
Anyways, I started my walk from the Business Park and I had heard that if you keep walking towards the East along the river, you’d come across the beautiful bridges ultimately. But even the bridgeless, quieter part of the Quayside was alive with Joggers, Walkers, and Cyclists. I think I with my slow pace was just in their way most of the times. I did get a few judging looks during my walk but I just smiled back at them. I was too happy to be upset at anyone.
After about 15 minutes, I came across the first bridge across Tyne. This was a dull, concrete structure, which at a glance did not look too interesting. But after a close inspection, from down below, I located some graffiti at a place where it did not seem possible for any human to reach. I was full of admiration for the artist’s passion and spent some time wondering how many pints of Newcastle Brown Ale had been consumed to be able to reach the improbable location.
The second bridge was a railway bridge much like the old railway bridge on the River Yamuna in Delhi. Though this one wasn’t as slick as the concrete bridge, it was much more interesting with its metal mesh and the occasional trains that passed through it. And I can’t really put into words the racket the train creates when it passes through the equally guilty bridge. It is scary if you happen to be standing right beneath it, which I was of course.
The Quayside was getting brighter now. And to complement the scene, each next bridge was more colorful and architecturally spectacular. The next bridge was another beautiful metal structure for trains to travel to or from Gateshead. And it was bright-blue. This is something I really wish for when it comes to dull structures such as pillar of metro are concerned in India. Imagine how pretty the city of Delhi would look, it they were colorful instead of dull grey.
The next bridge was called “The High-Level Bridge” somewhat unimaginatively. Ever since I had set my eyes upon it in February 2011, it had been my dream to walk through the bridge. And the bridge remained my favorite till I did actually walk through it. Traffic such as buses and cars and even pedestrians pass through the bridge while the metro travels on the top. The bridge is also infested with pigeons and one might need to cover one’s head while walking through it and if driving a convertible, it’ll be better to leave the roof on.
P.S. It is no coincidence that there’s a train on all of the train bridges. I waited patiently and planned the shots. :)
The next bridge was comparatively low in height and is called the Swing Bridge because it swings to let the boats pass. This and the Millennium Bridge are the two gymnast bridges across the river. The Millennium Bridge closes to let the vessels pass. By this time, it was almost an hour since I had left office. They were not expecting me back so I went ahead to see the rest of the bridges.
And, of course, the next bridge was the one that is my favorite, The Newcastle Tyne Bridge. The competition for this title was tough and the Millennium Bridge came a close second. I have to confess that I may have given a few extra points to the “Newcastle” Tyne Bridge because the Millennium Bridge is called the “Gateshead” Millennium Bridge. The Tyne Bridge is home to a unique species of Gulls called the Kittiwake. The sky echoes with their shrill calls all the while and again, you have to have an umbrella or something to cover your head when you walk beneath the bridge.
The last bridge is the Millennium Bridge, which I must admit, against my biased judgment, looks quite spectacular at night. But during the day, it is a confusing structure. Anyways, it makes for a nice walk across the Tyne and is the best way to access The Sage on the Gateshead Quayside.
After this, my next target was the Castle Keep. This keep along with the Black Gate is amongst the only surviving parts of a Castle that existed earlier. As is common with castles and their parts in the UK, this keep is supposed to have its own set of ghosts. In fact, it is supposed to be so haunted that an episode of Most Haunted was shot here. The area surrounding the Castle is secluded and eerie and as soon as you reach the black gate, the air changes. Even the occasional train running through the ruins doesn’t disturb the silence. Unfortunately, when I reached the castle keep, it wasn’t open for visitors. But I went around it a couple of times and was surprised to see how harmless the place actually looked.
Right next to it was the entrance to the Pedestrian Way across the High-Level Bridge. And even though the sky had started darkening, I decided to take a walk across it. And that is when I discovered the pigeons. I have already told you about the precautions one must take here. Anyways, After reaching Gateshead, I looked around a bit and then headed back across the bridge to the awesome Newcastle. And very soon I was again next to the Castle Keep. It was dark by this time and the area was decidedly creepy. I felt that it was prudent to head back home for two reasons – 1) Party time was starting and very soon people would be too drunk to watch where they were going. 2) I had been walking for over 2.5 hours and was dead tired.
I took a bus from there to my place. And though I was exhausted, I was glad to have made a good use of my taking off early from office and having accomplished three things that had been on my checklist for long: 1) Photographing all bridges across Tyne on Newcastle Quayside, 2) Exploring Castle Keep, and 3) Take a walk across the High-Level Bridge. So it had been an evening well spent, something the Ghumakkar in me was rather proud of.
Great post, Vibha.
Thanks for bringing the bridges of Newcastle-upon-Tyne to us. I am surprised, however, at the profusion of bridges in this rather small city, which was once a major industrial centre, but has lost its importance after the last coal mine closed down during the Thatcher era.
Loved the informative plaque telling us when the castle, which gave the city its name, was built and who built it. I wonder they referred to him as Robert Curthose instead of Robert II, the Duke of Normandy; they are probably as embarrassed by this association as William the conqueror was.
PS: I don’t think that the ship passing under the Swing Bridge is a co-incidence either.
Thanks D.L. Yes the city was once a major industrial centre and it has definitely lost that status now. However, it has emerged as a student city and Pubs, Bars, Shopping complexes and some businesses make sure that there’s regular inflow and outflow of traffic. Seven bridges within a couple of Kilometres still seems like an overkill though. :)
The ship passing under the bridge is an illusion. In fact, in the picture there is no ship at all. That’s how the bridge has been built. :)
I had a closer look now and realised that it wasn’t a ship at all but some sort of artificial island which houses the axis around which the bridge rotates like the needle of a compass to let ships pass.
All the comments about the Toon sort of perplexed me, as the only toons I know are the ones my granddaughter loves to watch. Then I had a eureka moment which told me that it was probably Geordie for Town !
Nice and informative post, nice pictures, nice city, nice bridges and bridges all around….. thnx for bridging England with India for Ghumakkars like us….
I like the name “Toddler Ved”. :)
Thanks for going through the post and appreciating it. I am glad you found it interesting.
really!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!thnx a lot mam….
Love it Vibs! this actually makes me miss the Toon sooooooo much. Miss you Girlie but love reading your stuff x
Thanks Han! I miss you too. I dream of Newcastle and our Thursday lunches often. Wish we could still have those. :)
well me and my friend are hoping to visit the Toon in the summer so maybe we can have a reunion lunch at the Crows Nest or Fluid :)
Cool! If you see some of our friends at the bar, say my hi to them…Miss the Toon. Wish I could go there again. But it’s so so far. Dammit!
Thanks for sharing the story on bridges :-)
Jokes apart , Good Job Vibha !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks Mahesh. I’m glad you liked it :)
nice progressive photo-description of Newcastle bridges…Delhi-on-Yamuna correlation is inspiring.
And how come your trips end in a hauntingly eerie set-up. We like them – of course.
Good post really,
Yes, your observation is quite accurate. There are two reasons for the shade of creepiness in almost all of my posts. 1) UK is known for its haunted locations and almost all castles, woods, riversides, pubs have their own resident ghosts. 2) My own obsession with the supernatural. I am crazy about ghosts above all. Though I know if (God forbid) I am ever up against one, I’ll probably die of fear. But I assure you that doesn’t deter me from seeking spooky experiences.
Glad you liked the post.
Hi Vibha, Nice post as always… Next time you could also touch upon the footballing tradition of Newcastle & the bitter rivalry they share with Sunderland…
UK towns and villages are excellent places for walkers. You’ll never get tired of the scenes unfolding before you and you have beautifully captured it all.
You toured us to one of UK’s quaint towns which looked wholesome in itself!
The bridges, the castles, the graffiti are all different splendors and for one person to admire all such variety is an extraordinary trait..
Your description of the different bridges brought alive some of my memories of the boat trip in London where I witnessed and learnt about the bridges and why they were built.
Thank you for the lively post!