‘I like to go home early, that’s my thing. My idea of a pub crawl lasts from midday until 5pm’ – Nick Frost
Just over a year ago I was musing to the hubs that I’d never really had a good walk around our fair city home city of Newcastle upon Tyne and seen the city walls, china town etc. So one rain Good Friday we did just that, I wrote a blog post about it and it became the most successful post I’ve ever done.
The Ouseburn area of Newcastle is also somewhere I’ve never really been been, Meagan and I ventured down there when she was over in July, just we ended up just getting drunk in the Ship Inn and did really try any of the other pubs. So, hubby being the amazing, supportive hombre he is, agreed to be dragged out the house for a day on drink. All in the name of research of course. How selfless.
Every professional drinker knows that you need to line your stomach well before a good session, so we fueled up on some mahoosive meat sarnies and quirky new deli Kracklin on Market Street (just round the corner from the Theatre Royal.
After you’ve been fed and watered turn right out of the cafe and continue all the way along Market Street until you come to a large dual carriage way (The A167M). To your left you should see a set of stairs that will lead to a foot bridge crossing the carriageway. This will lead you to New Bridge Street. It’s worth stopping halfway over the footbridge and taking a look to you right where you’ll get a pretty decent view of the iconic Tyne Bridge.
As you come down the ramp off the other side of the footbridge you’re now on New Bridge Street and should see Manors Metro Station (this is another good place to start if you want to miss out lunch). Walk passed the metro station keeping it on your right and you should come across the first pub of the crawl just passed it, called the New Bridge
Part of the Sir John Fitzgerald pub chain this isn’t the same as most of the others in the chain like The Twin Farms or the Pavilion, it’s much more traditional. Near the front door there are cute little wooden booths to sit in quietly then past the bar it opens out where it’s a little more lively but still with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere (the barmaid in particular was really good fun). They have big plasma screens showing the Newcastle match if it’s on so a good one for footie fans. There’s a good range of real ales, always a winner with the hubs, I however was firmly on the wine (a small glass though this was a marathon not a sprint!)
Come out of the New Bridge and turn right continuing along New Bridge Street, after about 5 minutes or so you will see the Tanners Arms directly in front of you.
Probably the least salubrious of the pubs on the tour, however it was reasonably quiet when we were in and got a warm welcome from the bar staff. You get a real sense of Newcastle here – a local pub but not in an intimidating, the music stops and everyone stares at you as you walk in kind of way. It’s another real ale pub with a lot of variation on offer including ciders on tap. Although we weren’t eating they did a good variety of reasonably priced hot dogs and gourmet burgers. The music was pretty spot on as well, the only pub on the tour that has it’s own resident DJ, I daren’t ask him if he had any Backstreet Boys though.
When you come out of the side door of the Tanners you want to hike a left then sharp left again so you’re walking down Stepney Bank. You should see the famous Byker Bridge infront of you on the left, walk down the bank keeping to the right of the bridge arches. About 3/4 minutes down the road it will start to bear round to the right onto Lime Street where you’ll see the Ship Inn on the left and the Cluny right in front of you (The Ship Inn is also worth a try if your liver is up to the challenge but since I’d already drank in there we gave it a miss on this occasion) and headed straight into the Cluny instead.
The Cluny apparently is a regular fixture in the top 100 list of World’s Best Bars, and is currently the only pub in Newcastle upon Tyne to make the list. As well as being a cafe and bar it’s also a live music venue with two different rooms, the largest of which has a capacity of around 300. Personally, this was probably my least favourite pub of all on the tour. Perhaps my expectations were too high with it being so iconic. I mean, there was nothing wrong with it, it was just a little bit too hipstery (the irony of that is not lost considering we were in Ouseburn – the most hispter place on the planet) but I just found it a little too cool for school and the staff looked bored and surly. Reading some reviews on Tripadvisor appear to concur as well sadly, the fact that it’s a music venue seemingly the only thing saving it at the moment. Should have stuck to what we knew and gone back to the Ship Inn instead.
Come out of the Cluny and turn right (or if you’ve taken my advice and gone to the Ship turn left) with Ouseburn Farm on your left and over the wooden bridge that crosses the Rive Ouse. Follow the path round to the right a little bit and you should see a set of steep steps on the right. Climb the steps to pub number 4 – The Cumberland Arms
Absolute, hands down favourite pub of the day. The pub is split into 2 bar areas with the bar in the middle servicing both rooms. We found a little table in the left hand room which was lovely and cosy with a roaring open fire, books and board games. They don’t do food because, well, they’re not Wetherspoons, but we got a couple of bags of crisps to tide us over. They also have a small performance space upstairs where they do improv – something I’d like to check out sometime. I will always love small quaint local pubs over large echoing rooms like the Cluny so The Cumberland is right up my street! There’s actually a B&B attached as well with 4 rooms available, something I’d be really keen to try out in the future if we wanted our next pub crawl to last a little longer into the night!
Coming out of the Cumberland you can either go back down the steps or turn immediate left which will lead you down to Byker Bank. Turn right onto Byker Bank and continue along the road for about 5 minutes where you will then need to turn left onto Ford Street. 2 minutes along Ford Street and you will start gradually walking up a hill and see The Free Trade Inn like a shining beacon in the distance, an oasis of real ale and wine, and pub number 5 on our tour!
By the time we arrived it was early evening and there was a great atmosphere in the pub. It probably offered the best range of real ale. It’s nice to be able to go into a real ale pub, order wine and not feel like a leper and one of the bonuses of being one of the only girls in a pub full of blokes is that you get a seat offered to you, sorry feminists but after nearly 5 hours on the drink my dogs were barking! I wouldn’t normally be that bothered about a seat to be honest other than were the view from the pub window not be as gorgeous as this:
Oh, and the pub cat is called Craig David.
Well oiled a little bleary eyed we left the Free Trade and walked down the steep stone steps as if you’re heading towards the Quayside and you’ll stumble into the last pub on the tour, the Tyne Bar
It turned out to be a really good pub to end the night on, it was rammed, music pumping and the atmosphere was excellent. It’s not the biggest bar in the world, but my womanly charms managed to get us a seat again (either that or I just have the kind or personality that clears a room). There is a large outdoor space with a stage for live music but this was a cold Saturday at the beginning of March so we stayed inside. It’s possibly a little on the studenty side more my usual tastes but it was welcoming and friendly rather than pretentious and cold. Besides I was 5 glasses of wine in, I was everyone’s friend by that point! A plate of chili nachos wafted past us at one point , which made me make a mental note to go there for food one time.
So needless to say after 6 pubs in almost as many hours it was needless to say it was time the Newman’s hit the strasse and rolled themselves home, which is exactly what we did (via the Crown Posada of course 😉