Ouseburn Valley Circular Walk
This 3.7 km (2.3 mile) walk takes you from Newcastle’s Quayside up the path of the River Ouseburn into the new creative quarter of Ouseburn Valley. The past twenty years have transformed Ouseburn to become one of the most vibrant creative communities in the North East with plenty of things to do. Home to artists, musicians, designers and much more, of the major thoroughfares in Ouseburn, Lime Street, is home to several creative hotspots. Just take your time, enjoy the history of the area, stop for a coffee and cake, leisurely lunch or pint of ale in an old Newcastle pub!
We start this walk at The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, on the Newcastle side of the River Tyne (Green star on map below).
Opened to the public in 2001, Gateshead Millennium Bridge has already won a host of accolades including the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize. It is the world’s first and only tilting bridge! Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and engineered by Gifford, the bridge takes its place at the end of a line of distinguished bridges across the River Tyne, including the Tyne Bridge and Robert Stephenson’s High Level Bridge. Linking Gateshead with Newcastle via Gateshead Quays (described as one of the best places in Europe by Tony Blair) and Newcastle’s Quayside, the bridge not only serves a functional purpose as the River Tyne’s only foot and cycle bridge, but its grace and engineering attract people from all over the world. Anyone travelling on a pleasure boat up the River Tyne will pass under the bridge and those watching from the banks of the river will join the thousands who enjoy this view every year.
From Gateshead Millennium Bridge walk along the Quayside with the River Tyne on your right hand side.
Walk past the glass fronted Pitcher and Piano bar, and you will discover some of the sculptures which make up the ‘Art on the Riverside’ scheme. The golden globe you can see sits atop the Swirle Pavilion and walking inside the sculpture reveals the names of the destinations of ships which departed from the Tyne during its industrial heyday. Further along you’ll come to the Blacksmith’s Needle. It is divided into six sections and amongst the many objects which make up this sculpture, you should notice an ear, an eye and a nose amongst other things. The theme is the senses, with the last segments indicating the sixth sense!
Continue along this way (with the Tyne on your right) and soon you will arrive at the river inlet of the Ouseburn (Map Point 1), flowing into the Tyne.
On the opposite bank ahead of you, you will be able to see the modern building of The Cycle Hub.
Follow the path around the Ouseburn inlet up onto Mariners Wharf / Quayside and cross the bridge over the Ouseburn. Turn left immediately after the bridge into Maling St with The Tyne Bar ahead of you. Take the river footpath down to the left of this pub under the arches to follow the river footpath all the way up into the heart of the Ouseburn Valley.
Ouseburn Valley has a long and rich history. Known as the cradle of the industrial revolution in Newcastle, due to its location on the River Tyne, barges would load goods and coal from Ouseburn to be shipped around the world.
At the heart of Ouseburn is the entrance to The Victoria Tunnel, an underground wagon way that used the power of gravity to transport coal from Leazes Colliery – just north of the city centre – all the way down to the Quayside for transportation. The fantastic feat of Victorian engineering was later used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War, and is now open for tours.
This is the valley which gave birth to Newcastle’s own industrial revolution. As early as the 17th century, glass factories were established near the mouth of the Ouseburn and local supplies of coal were used to fuel the glassmaking processes. Water power drove machinery in the flint and flax mills which developed in the late 18th/early 19th centuries; lime kilns, a coppers works, tanneries and a white lead factory also arrived on the scene. Now, the whole of the Ouseburn area has been earmarked for careful regeneration aimed at keeping its unique character intact.
Keep following the footpath alongside the Ouseburn river until you come to a bridge over to the other side (Map Point 2). Cross the bridge here and turn right to come to Ouseburn Farm on Ouseburn Road.
In case you’re not entirely sure Ouseburn Farm really is a farm! But you won’t find it in the countryside as they’re based right in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. They’ve also got a lovely cafe serving delightful food, and wherever possible they utilise ingredients from the farm itself. Ouseburn Farm is a local visitor attraction that’s supported by generous donations and run by dedicated staff and volunteers for the benefit of the community. It’s a ‘working farm’ as well as a training and education centre so not your typical farm, the staff and volunteers creating a friendly, positive and nourishing environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. So pop along and visit their award-winning, environmentally friendly building, and spend time with the pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, lizards, tortoises, meadows, ponds and woodlands.
Continue along Ouseburn Road past the farm on your right and towards the large bridges overhead, spanning the valley. Pass underneath the first red brick arches of The Byker Road Bridge which dates back to 1878. Continue ahead along the cobbled footpath over Crawford’s Bridge, one of the oldest of the ravine’s bridges, towards the modern, concrete, Byker Viaduct (which carries the Metro line high above the valley). Follow the cobbled path to the left and then right underneath the Ouseburn Rail Viaduct (wrought iron) opened in 1839. Once under the Rail Viaduct follow the path up the hill alongside the Rail Viaduct until you come out onto Stepney Road (Map Point 3).
Turn right onto Stepney Road and walk up to the corner with Boyd St/ Portland Rd. Continue ahead (or technically turn right!) onto Portland Rd then left onto Shieldfield Lane. At the end turn left onto Stoddart St and you will find the entrance to The Biscuit Factory along here on your left (Map Point 4).
The Biscuit Factory is Britain’s largest independent art gallery with two floors of exhibition spaces and two floors of artists’ studios, selling paints, prints, photography, sculpture, glass, ceramics and jewellery by regional, national and international artists and makers.
Continue down Stoddart St until you reach the A193 New Bridge St. Cross over using the pedestrian crossing on your right hand side, then cross over again to the left to head down Stepney Bank.
Continue along Stepney Bank, passing the Stepney Bank Stables on your left, and quirky new bars and restaurants under the arches until you come back to the green triangle near Ouseburn Farm.
Inspected and approved by The British Horse Society, The Association of British Riding Schools and The Pony Club, Stepney Bank Stables has highly qualified and experienced staff who will support and inspire you whether you are a complete beginner or a competent rider. The well mannered horses and ponies are ideal for: Enthusiastic pre school riders; Students wishing to pursue an equestrian career; Retired adults looking to enjoy a new hobby and everyone in between! Visitors are welcome – the stables are open from 9am-9pm weekdays and 9am- 5pm weekends. They only close on Christmas day (though check latest before making a visit)!
A little further along from the Stables, and on the right-hand side of the road, you will find Northern Print. This is the centre for excellence in printmaking in the North East of England, where you will find a studio, gallery and education space all dedicated to printmaking.
Around this green heart of the Ouseburn Valley, you will find The Cluny, a bar housed in an old whisky warehouse, originally built as a flax mill in the 1840s, and designed by John Dobson. It has a great selection of real ales! Also looking onto the green area is The Ship Inn. The Ship Inn is one of the oldest pubs in the area, and owes its name to the historic importance of river craft in the development and heritage of the Ouseburn Valley.
Follow Stepney Bank round to the right and into Lime Street. Walk down Lime Street until you come to the intersection with Cut Bank / Byker Bank roads. You will pass Severn Stories and Ouseburn Trust and the entrance to Victoria Tunnel as you do so.
Seven Stories is the Centre for Children’s Books, and is a superb place to go to see an inspirational collection of original artworks, manuscripts and all manner of other paraphernalia and activities relating to children’s books (note: there is a fee to get in, but it’s free to use the bookshop and cafe).
Further along Lime Street you will find the Ouseburn Resource Centre for more information on this fascinating area. Here also is the entrance to The Victoria Tunnel, a preserved 19th century waggonway under the city from the Town Moor to the Tyne, built to transport coal from Spital Tongues (Leazes Main) Colliery to the river and operated between 1842 and the 1860s. The Tunnel was converted in 1939 into an air-raid shelter to protect thousands of Newcastle citizens during World War 2.
Cross over Byker Bank / Cut Bank when safe to do so and continue straight ahead into Ouse St. At the end of Ouse St, cross over the A186 Walker Rd when safe to do so and continue ahead into Horatio Street which leads you back down towards the Quayside.
On a grassy corner at the top of Horatio St, on your left, you’ll find the memorial to William L Blenkinsopp Coulson, a man noted for his huge efforts on behalf of not only the weaker members of society, but animals, too. The drinking trough has two fountains: the larger one for humans, and around the back, a smaller one for animals!
On your right-hand side, further along Horatio St, you’ll see the Sailors’ Bethel. The word “Beth-el” is Hebrew for “House of God”, and in the 130 years of its existence this building has served as a non-conformist chapel, a community centre, a Danish seamen’s church and now, finally, offices. In the late 19th century regular trade between Newcastle and Danish ports resulted in cargoes of butter, eggs and fresh meat arriving at the mouth of the Ouseburn, and the Sailors’ Bethel was the ideal place for the Danish seamen to stay overnight whilst their cargo was unloaded.
At the bottom of Horatio St, cross over the road when safe to do so to get back to the Quayside, and turn right to walk back to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge where this walk began.
Overview of Route:
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