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South Tyneside Guide – Walking

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The latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside is out. Request your own free 33 page copy of the guide below.

Here is an extract from the latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside…

Walking Free South Tyneside Visitor Guide 2017

Walk The Walk

South Tyneside distills all of the North East’s best bits – dunes, cliffs, parks, countryside, sea views — into a dramatic and eminently walkable landscape.

Walking is pretty good, isn’t it? Propelling yourself along at a leisurely pace, relying only on your own legs and sense of self-determination and freedom. There are loads of good words for it too. Stomp. Wander. Stroll. Plod. Walking’s by far the most poetic way of getting anywhere.

And it’s not just the descriptors which are poetic: South Tyneside’s varied scenery packs in all of the greatest hits of the North East. Obviously, being on the coast, there are dunes and cliffs to wander across stretching from South Shields down to Whitburn. There’s something incredibly soul-settling about staring out to sea, and the vantage points in South Tyneside out across Marsden Bay are especially majestic. Head to Whitburn Coastal Park and Souter Lighthouse and head north towards Frenchman’s Bay for an easy stroll along the clifftops, taking in the panoramic sea views.

Walking along the promenade beside Sandhaven and Littlehaven beaches is a joy too, as are South Marine Park and North Marine Park overlooking the promenade. Away from the coast there are a number of options, such as Hebburn Riverside Park. Once a derelict, beaten-up landscape scarred by generations of heavy industry – chemical works and ship-building, primarily – the land along here has been transformed with new housing, a nature trail and riverside walk.

You want nature? South Tyneside is absolutely full of it, not least at Tilesheds Local Nature Reserve between Boldon and Cleadon. As the name suggests, it used to be a brick and tile works, but now it’s pond and marshland plus thousands of native trees and shrubs. That means it’s teeming with wildlife: you’ve got your classic pond-dwellers like frogs, toads, newts, dragonflies and water boatmen, plus breeding swans, coots and moorhens.The nearby Cotman Gardens Meadow makes for an evocative walk too. It’s a traditional meadow that’s been unploughed for generations, meaning you can get a feel for how our forebears would have frolicked among the cowslips, great burnet and yellow rattle.

West Boldon Lodge is another great place for nature-lovers to explore, with 13 hectares of open water, wet and dry meadows, grassland, woodland, coppiced willow areas and scrub woodland.

Industry has added to the drama of some of South Tyneside’s walkable scenery though, and Cleadon Hills is a case in point. The old windmill and the iconic Cleadon Water Tower dot the grassy landscape as, to steal WH Auden’s memorable phrase from the poem Night Mail, “gigantic chessmen”. The route from Well House Farm to Cleadon Windmill forms part of Bede’s Way, which was put together to allow ramblers to follow in the footsteps of seventh century pilgrims who would travel between the monastery sites of St Peter’s in Wearmouth to St Paul’s in Jarrow. You can still feel the history in the air.

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South Tyneside Guide – Jarrow Hall

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The latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside is out. Request your own free 33 page copy of the guide below.

Here is an extract from the latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside…

Jarrow Hall Free South Tyneside Visitor Guide 2017

Blast From The Past

Experience life in Anglo-Saxon times thanks to a new attraction in South Tyneside which pays tribute to the Venerable Bede and his enduring legacy.

South Tyneside’s latest stellar attraction, Jarrow Hall, opened its doors in April after a £100,000 investment and it’s quickly becoming one of the country’s leading Anglo-Saxon attractions. Run by the Hebburn-based charity Groundwork, it features an interactive museum, which chronicles the life of die Venerable Bede (who transformed astronomy and theology from South Tyneside in the early Anglo-Saxon period), a heritage petting farm and a popular on-site cafe.

If you’re looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, then Jarrow Hall is just the place. A haven of tranquillity in a busy town, this 11-acre site is home to a range of domestic animals from pigs and sheep to goats, ducks and hens. But this is a petting farm with a difference. Designed to give an insight into Anglo-Saxon life, the farm is populated with rare breed animals that represent the kind of animals that would have been farmed in South Tyneside 1,300 years ago.

“By working with the rare breed animals we get an insight into how the Anglo-Saxons would have farmed,” Leigh Venus, Operations Manager at Jarrow Hall, explains. “We try to use traditional techniques as much as we can and we’re in contact with people across the country who manage rare breed animals to get more animals on site.”

Visitors to the farm can feed the animals themselves or go along to one of the talks by the site’s farm manager during the daily 3pm feed. When you’ve finished, sample produce from the Medieval herb garden in the aptly-named Hive Coffee Company café.

“.There’s a history within the monastic realm of the Anglo Saxon period of keeping bees,” Leigh explains.‘Honey was used for making mead and for making books and inks, and Hive Coffee Company were a perfect fit. They’re working with the herb gardener to use herbs from the garden in their food.”

“As well as regular art exhibitions, creative workshops and heritage craft demonstrations such as weaving or making rune necklaces, there’s a programme of reenactments, live weapon displays, archery and live performances”.

The cafcafé is housed within Jarrow Hall House, a Grade II-listed 18th century manor house which has just been given a complete refurbishment. “It doesn’t look like a Georgian interior, but it is a renovation that is sympathetic to the colours and styles of that era,” Leigh explains. “We had a heritage paint palette and we took advice from a Georgian era expert at Durham University.” The hall also houses a classroom space, which is used to support the attraction’s events and education programme.

Jarrow Hall is also home to the Bede Museum, which has been preserving the legacy of the Anglo Saxon monk Bede since 1974. From the monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow, Bede penned a number of important philosophical and theological works, including The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which chronicles the history of people’s relationship with Christianity.

“He was essentially a local lad done good,” says Leigh. “He came to the monastery aged seven and changed the world. His work is the cornerstone of English history and the English national identity. He was a polymath, a scientist, a poet, he did a lot of work to figure out the exact birthdate of Christ and the date Easter should fall, and in doing so he did a lot of hard science as well. He worked out the motion of celestial objects like the moon and the sun and how that affected the tides”.

Discover this history for yourself at Bede Museum which is bursting with fun exhibits that capture Bede’s life and achievements. The museum is home to Europe’s largest early collection of stained glass (which dates back to the 7th and 8th century), as well as a full-sized reproduction of the Codex Amiatinus – the oldest complete Latin Bible in existence.

“Three of these huge Bibles were produced at the Wearmouth-Jarrow Monastery and Bede would very likely have worked on them,” Leigh explains. “Two are almost completely lost to history, but one was given to the Pope in Rome. The man in charge of the monastery actually died en route and his monks got it the rest of the way. The one here in Jarrow is only the second full-sized copy in the world. The other is in the Laurentian Library in Florence.”

Fans of Bede should also pay a visit to the nearby St Paul’s Church and Monastic site — the remains of the site where Bede once lived and the original Codex Amiatinus was written.

Throughout the year Jarrow Hall offers a range of hands-on events and activities to help visitors engage with this Anglo-Saxon history. As well as regular art exhibitions, creative workshops and heritage craft demonstrations (such as weaving or making rune necklaces), there’s a programme of reenactments, live weapon displays, archery and live performances taking place — there’s something for everyone.

If you’ve got any energy left after all of that, there’s a soft play area and a natural play area on site and Drewetts Park is just a stone’s throw away — so you can rest assured that your little friars will be completely tuckered by the end of the day.

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South Tyneside Guide – Landmarks

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The latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside is out. Request your own free 33 page copy of the guide below.

Here is an extract from the latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside…

Cleadon Hills Free South Tyneside Visitor Guide 2017

The Famous Five

As you’re out and about exploring all South Tyneside has to offer, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for these five fabulous local landmarks.

Cleadon Windmill. Whether or not you buy into the ghost stories, make sure you see this 200-year-old ruined windmill as you’re exploring Cleadon Hills.

Souter Lighthouse. The first lighthouse in the world designed and built to be powered by electricity is not only a marvel of engineering – you’ll love the views from the top.

Marsden Rock. One of the most recognisable sights on this beautiful stretch of coast, this towering rock formation in Marsden Bay is home to a significant seabird colony.

The Eye. Among the most iconic of South Tyneside’s outstanding selection of public art, make sure you peer through The Eye for stunning views of the pier and the sea.

Hebburn Central. This £13 million development, which includes swimming pools, sports and dance halls, a library and cafe, has picked up national awards for its impact on the community since opening two years ago, and its architecture is truly striking.

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South Tyneside Guide – South Shields Museum & Art Gallery

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The latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside is out. Request your own free 33 page copy of the guide below.

Here is an extract from the latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside…

South Shields Museum and Art Gallery Free South Tyneside Visitor Guide 2017

Family Fun

Visitors of all ages will find plenty to spark their imagination at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery. Housed in South Shields’ former Literary, Mechanical and Scientific Institution, this museum has been preserving South Tyneside’s social, industrial and maritime history since 1860. It’s home to an impressive collection of exhibits from the Bronze Age to the 20th century which capture the social history of the area from shipping and mining to sea rescue (the lifeboat was invented in South Shields in 1789).

“Our main exhibition for summer 2017 is Little Landmarks, which is South Shields’ buildings recreated in Lego,” Geoff explains. “We’ve commissioned 10 local landmarks that we’ll have on display and we’re inviting people to go and see the actual buildings as well. Then later in the year we’re getting Bones from the Great North Museum.”

Throughout the school holidays South Shields Museum run Tremendous Tuesdays, where children can take part in crafts and activities inspired by the exhibitions, and fans of all things creepy and crawly will be delighted to find that the museum has its very own Creature Corner where you can see live snakes, spiders and lizards too.

The Museum is also home to a state of the art gallery space which was opened last year, and shows work by important local artists alongside masterpieces borrowed from national galleries through the Spotlight Loan Programme. In the past year they’ve shown a Renoir alongside local coastal scenes, as well as a Turner painting of the River Tyne.

“We’ve got a Lowry exhibition on at the moment,” Geoff says. “Lowry spent a lot of time in South Shields, particularly in the last 15 years of his life. He liked watching the ships coming in and out of the River Tyne. He would sketch them and then work them up into full-scale drawings back in the studio.” The exhibition runs until 9 September 2017.

Be sure to round off your visit with a trip to The Victorian Pantry, the museum’s vintage-inspired, on-site cafe where you’ll find a range of homemade treats served by staff in traditional costume.

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South Tyneside Guide – Arbeia Roman Fort

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The latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside is out. Request your own free 33 page copy of the guide below.

Here is an extract from the latest 2017 guide to South Tyneside…

Arbeia Roman Fort Free South Tyneside Visitor Guide 2017

History In The Making

Did you know that the Roman Emperor Severus once stayed at Arbeia Roman Fort? South Tyneside has a rich and captivating cultural history, and its museums are paving the way with their engaging exhibits and technological innovations.

From Roman military defence to coal mining and ship building, South Tyneside has been at the heart of a number of key moments of social and industrial expansion, and this fascinating history is celebrated in two of the area’s museums and historic sites – Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum and South Shields Museum & Art Gallery. Watch a gladiator fight, pay a visit to a Roman barracks and then immerse yourself in works by some of the finest 20th century painters – all right here in South Tyneside.

The Final Frontier

Dating back to 160 AD, Arbeia Roman Fort is one of the most important heritage sites in the UK. The former garrison once provided military supplies to troops stationed along Hadrian’s Wall and was an important coastal defence. So much so that Emperor Severus stationed himself there during his Scottish campaigns in the 3rd century – “and wherever the Emperor was is considered to be the centre of the Roman Empire,” Geoff Woodward, the Museum Manager, adds. It is now an immersive attraction where visitors of all ages can learn more about this crucial period of history and it’s just a few minutes’ walk from South Shields seafront.

The star attraction of the museum is the archaeological remains uncovered from on-site excavations. “It’s one of the best collections from Roman Britain,” Geoff says. Among the artefacts are a complete ringmail suit which was left behind during a fire at the barracks, jet jewellery and the tombstone of a southern slave named Reginia. “Her husband came from Barates in Syria so the gravestone has script in Latin and Arabic,” Geoff explains. “Arbeia was a cosmopolitan place.”

In 2017 you can see these local finds displayed at Arbeia alongside international treasures in the exciting Hadrian’s Cavalry exhibition, an in-depth look at the life of the Roman cavalry which is being held in venues across the full 150-mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall. “We’ve got two star loans,” Geoff explains, “a cavalry helmet and a cavalry sword that have come from Germany and Austria dating from 150AD.”

A trip to Arbeia Roman Fort is a fully immersive experience. You can explore the fort to discover where the various artefacts were unearthed and it’s one of the few places in the country where you can see full-size reconstructions of Roman buildings. Climb to the ramparts at the top of the reconstructed West Gate, and see for yourself how different life was for a soldier in barracks and a commanding officer in their more luxurious homes.

Thanks to new funding, the museum has recently introduced a Roman trail app (for iPhone and android) which leads visitors to Arbeia through South Shields town centre, marking historical milestones along the route. “It goes through North Marine Park so that you get that view over the river mouth and you can really understand the strategic location of Arbeia,” Geoff explains.

So grab your helmet and prepare to be transported back to Roman times. It seems that after almost 2,000 years, Arbeia Roman Fort is still paving the way.

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