Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Walk By The Tyne - Part 2 - The Bridges of Tyne and Wear County

It's not a long walk from Dunston into Newcastle.  The whole route follows a path by the river unless you want to divert into the Riverside Park above and visit a sculpture trail.  Something for another day.  I left you with a view down the river, some of the bridges over the Tyne.  Of course this post isn't about all the bridges of Tyne and Wear, just the few that you walk under when walking into Newcastle or Gateshead along the river.  I've walked the paths on the other side of the river last year when a 'short walk' from home suddenly included a bus ride into Denton before walking down a recently flooded Denton Dene until it meets Hadrian's Way, then down to the river and into the city.

One of these bridges is the famous "Tyne Bridge" but it's shrouded by the five bridges in front of it.

The first you come to is Redheugh Bridge.

This is a modern road bridge, opened in 1983 by The Princess of Wales.  It's the third bridge on the site.  The first, opened in 1860, had to be closed 25 years later because the structure was unsafe.  The second lasted for 50 years before succumbing to the same fate.  The current bridge is meant to have a life of 120 years so should be there a while.  Including the approaches it is 897 metres long.  That central span is 160 metres long and it's 26 metres above the river.  It's a long way up.  Or down.  That's enough statistics.

Moving on you come to the King Edward VII Bridge.  I'm guessing that even if you live in Newcastle you wouldn't know that.  We had a local knowledge quiz at a church social evening a while back in which we had to name the first seven bridges over the Tyne in order.  Nobody could name this bridge.

This rail bridge was opened in 1906 by Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.  Enough said.  If you're a train or bridge enthusiast there's plenty of information online.  One interesting website, covering all of the bridges on the Tyne from source to estuary is  For anyone elsewhere in the area there are links to bridges on other local rivers too.  It's the site of a happy enthusiast.

 A train!

Four bridges in the background and in the distance the tower of St Willibrord with All Saints, previously a Church of England building but currently an Old Catholic church.

With my upbringing it would be abnormal if I saw arches and didn't take a photo.  The KEB has arches.  Here's the photo.

It's not all bridges on this walk.  Here's the riverbank by the path.

And here is some of the (not very) wildlife.  Out of the city there are plenty of herons, cormorants and waders by and in the river but I didn't see them yesterday.  The water looked murkier and cloudier than I've seen it before.  There seemed to be far more floating in it too.

Onwards again to another bridge, with the unimaginative name "Metro Bridge" or to use its full title "Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge," opened in 1981 by The Queen.  Do you think she is happy that the Metro Bridge is named after her?  According to the Bridges on the Tyne website, "trains plunge into tunnels at either end".  I'm not sure "plunge" is the right word.

A Metro train.  You don't have to wait long to spot one - most days there are ten an hour in each direction. Unless Metro is apologising for the delays, a situation not unknown to the seasoned Metro traveler.

Another spire.  This time it's St Mary's Catholic Cathedral.  I am informed that it is the 5th tallest building in Newcastle.  All Saints (mentioned above) is the 7th.

If you're into stained glass, this site has good pictures of some of the windows of St Mary's.

To the next bridge - the High Level Bridge.  A double decker bridge.  The top level is for trains and the lower level for pedestrians and for buses and taxis heading from Newcastle to Gateshead but not in the other direction.

One more church tower - the Anglican Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Nicholas.  To its right is Newcastle Castle Keep, the official end of my walk.  To its left is the "Turnbull Building", built in the early 1900s.  The building has been a print house and a store for prosthetic limbs but is now full of apartments.  The penthouse apartment became the first home in Newcastle valued at more than a million Pounds.

The "High Level Bridge" was built in the 1840s and so is the oldest of the bridges that cross the Tyne at Newcastle.  Sometime soon I must cross it again on foot and take pictures of padlocks.

The next bridge - and the last on this walk - is the Swing Bridge.  You can't pass under this one without getting very wet and I didn't take a picture of it - just a few from it.  So here's a postcard from the past, showing the bridge in action.  It still swings, but far less often than it did when dozens of ships went up and down the Tyne - some to Dunston Staithes.

Finally, from the side of the Swing Bridge we get an unimpeded view of the famous Tyne Bridge - the model for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  In the background, along the Quayside you can see the Gateshead Millennium Bridge

Views were obscured.  People are in the process of repainting the bridge.  In the left gap is the Millennium Bridge.  In the right gap is the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

So the walk was nearly complete.  There's only one trouble with this river walk.  The river is in a valley.  My bus stop is not.  Hence this, and more than this:
There is a road from the Quayside to the city centre but these, "Castle Stairs" are quicker and lead eventually to the castle, a short walk from bus stops - and charity shops that I can never pass by.  I may not have wanted to wander round all the clothes shops in the Metro Centre but when charity shops have one Pound sale sections I can happily browse.  And on this occasion I bought a skirt and a top.

The end of the walk.  Not a long walk but with much to enjoy and with opportunities to repeat the walk later and detour from it and see more things.  This is the Castle Keep.  I've been up the tower twice.  Once as a child and once as an adult, with my child.  And both times with my parents.

To finish.  My first visit, in 1977.  Here I am with my brother and mother at the top of the Keep.  I am the little one on the right.  Canny people will note that the view has changed since 1977.

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