The disabled cruiser visiting Newcastle may be surprised to find that Newcastle is hilly. The main streets up from the Quayside, Dean Street and Grey Street, to the center of town are steep and challenging for wheelchair users. The key shopping areas (Northumberland Street, Grainger Street, around Grey’s Monument) are completely flat with lifts in Eldon Square shopping center and major stores. Grey Street becomes steep after Carluccios restaurant on the corner of Market Street.
There are buses (Quaylink) from the center to the Quayside which is also flat when you get there. You would even be able to walk/roll over the Millennium Bridge to Baltic on the Gateshead side of the Tyne.
The Quayside has many amazing places to see and visit ranging from historic houses and buildings to excellent pubs with character and cosmopolitan restaurants. It is a bit hilly going down and coming back especially in a wheelchair but well worth a visit as it is all accessible.
Newcastle is widely accessible to everyone from wheelchair users and people with mobility scooters to those with mobility issues. Bus services provide 100% easy access on their main services through low floor and ramp access and an easy access wheelchair guarantee. If you need to book a taxi, there are a range of taxis to accommodate all access needs including vehicles with wheelchair ramps.
Newcastle is situated in the county of Tyne and Wear, in the north-east of England in the United Kingdom.
The Center for Life features numerous rotating exhibitions and a permanent display based on diverse aspects of human life.
The Tyne Bridge remains the defining landmark of the Newcastle skyline, best viewed from the Quayside.
The Sage Music Centre stands on the Gateshead side of the city, located at St Mary’s Square, Gateshead.
Hancock Great North Museum features a large planetarium with LED displays, as well as a large scale, interactive model of Hadrian’s Wall as it originally appeared.
Segedunum marks the eastern end of the 73 mile long Roman Wall constructed by the Emperor Hadrian. The display has an excavated fort, baths and museum complex, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Quayside is a bustling waterfront promenade with bars, shops and bistros in a fabulous setting spanned by a series of vaulting bridges, all overlooked by the iconic Tyne Bridge.
Grey Street is lined with Georgian architecture dating back mainly from the 1830’s. It runs from the base Grey’s Monument down towards the River Tyne.
Alnwick is around 35 minutes north of Newcastle by train (from Central Station). The castle here is better known as the fictional Hogwarts from the Harry Potter films. The region is close to the Northumberland coast and has some great but sometimes windy beaches.
The Angel of the North, opened in 1998 has gone on to become another famous icon of the area. Standing 20m high on a hill outside the village of Low Fell, its wingspan is 54m wide.
Where You’re Docked
Cruise ships dock at the port of North Shields, 8 miles from Newcastle’s city center.
Taxis run to and from the city center, and the Metro light railway connects North Shields to the city center (Haymarket and the Central Station).
The terminal has a couple of shops and a café bar. The nearby adjacent Royal Quays shopping outlet features a variety of shops, plus ATM facilities.
There’s plenty to do in the actual port area of North Shields. Stroll the area around the Quayside, visit the nearby beach or check out the massive Tynemouth Priory on the headland, once one of the largest fortified castles in the United Kingdom. An exhibition, entitled “Life in the Stronghold,” highlights the Priory’s role as a castle, church and artillery fort through the ages.
The Royal Quays shopping outlet is just a 5-minute walk from the terminal and offers shopping, dining venues and bars.
Good to Know
Pickpockets can be a problem along busy thoroughfares such as Clayton Street, Grey Street and the Bigg Market area.
On Foot: There are shops, bars and restaurants all within walking distance of the port, but reaching the city’s main attractions will require public transportation or a taxi.
By Taxi: Taxis are always available and metered, unless you agree to a day rate with your driver. Drivers are honest and will be happy to provide you with information on the city during your journey. For the Disabled Cruiser, Noda Taxis and Blue Line Taxis both provide a range of taxis to accommodate all access needs including vehicles with wheelchair ramps. It is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Public Transport: The city has many public transport links, including the Metro and a bus service. Stops for both are within walking distance of the port. The main Metro stop for Port of Tyne is Percy Main and the main bus stop for services into the city is outside of the Royal Quays shopping center. The Disabled Cruiser will be happy to learn that the majority of the buses and coaches are able to accommodate wheelchairs, approved mobility scooters. Vehicles are equipped with appropriate bus lowering systems or the appropriate folding or retractable steps.
The official currency is the pound sterling.
The official language in Newcastle is English, but often spoken with a very strong dialect that is somewhere between Irish and Scottish.
For shopping, head to the shopping complex in Eldon Square and browse the many side streets filled with quirky, more unusual shops.
Further afield, Durham is located within an hour of Newcastle. The city is dominated by the massive Norman castle and cathedral, built in 1072. The city has winding, cobbled lanes leading to ancient squares full of arts and craft shops, and a broad river ideal for strolling along. The center is pedestrian only.
There are lots of dining options in Newcastle, from the favorite snacks of ‘saveloys’ (type of sausage) and pasties, to fish and chips and the traditional Sunday roast with Yorkshire puddings.
Points of Interest
- Hadrian’s Wall – A designated World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall, constructed on the orders of Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD, travels 73 miles across northern Britain, the most famous of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The Disabled Cruiser will see fort ruins, nice museum and a film. It is a great outdoor activity that is able to be reach by wheelchair.
- Angel of the North – Dominating the skyline, British sculptor Antony Gormley’s statue is constructed from 200 tons of weathering steel, with an impressive wingspan of 177 feet. For the Disabled Cruiser the site is wheelchair accessible, but there are no facilities.
- Alnwick Castle – Instantly recognizable as Hogwarts Castle from the “Harry Potter” films and from the television show “Downton Abbey,” Alnwick Castle has been the hereditary seat of the dukes of Northumberland since 1309. For the Disabled Cruiser wheelchairs and motorized scooters available at no additional charge if needed. The route to the castle is mainly smooth, however, after the ticket station the entrance walkway is rough cobblestone. Certain parts of the castle and gardens are not wheelchair friendly but this does not detract significantly from the enjoyment.
- Bamburgh Castle – Perched above the North Sea, Bamburgh Castle, resplendent with stately rooms and extensive grounds, is one of the most significant castles in the United Kingdom, the fortified home of the kings of Northumberland during the Anglo-Saxon period. The Disabled Cruiser should be aware that the Castle is wheelchair accessible, but there are some steep paths. Disabled visitors are allowed to drive their vehicle right up into the castle grounds and park outside the entrance so they don’t have to push their wheelchair up the hill. All the bottom half of the castle is accessible for wheelchairs.
- North Pennines – Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, North Pennines possesses the remote and iconic beauty of open heather moors dotted with verdant woods, flower-strewn meadows and sparkling rivers.
- Durham – Best enjoyed on foot, lively Durham showcases graceful architecture and heritage buildings highlighting the last 1,000 years of the city’s history and its Anglo-Saxon roots through the Victorian age. Durham is fairly hilly, so the Disabled Cruiser should not be surprised that the cathedral is at the top of one of the hills. The route to the cathedral isn’t too steep and the steep section isn’t too long. There are also bus services from the city center to the cathedral and castle (which is almost next to the cathedral), which are wheelchair accessible.
- Durham Cathedral – Heralded as the finest Norman building in Europe, Durham Cathedral, an architectural wonder built between 1093 and 1133, has been in continuous use as a place of worship and holds over 1,700 services a year. The Disabled Cruiser will find that the cathedral is fully accessible, with ramps between changes in level. There is a lift to the shop/cafe area. Some of the roads approaching the cathedral are cobbled, but it is possible to negotiate them without too much trouble. There are only a couple of short stretches where there are really bumpy old cobbles, but paths around the cathedral are fairly level and there are dropped curbs.
Newcastle Accessible Excursions
For many years, almost one-quarter of the world’s shipbuilding industry was centered in Newcastle. Today, the city is renowned for its plentiful shopping. It also boasts a bustling nightlife and cultural offerings. Some parts of Newcastle’s massive medieval walls remain standing to this day.
There are no organized accessible shore excursions in Newcastle.