Things To Do For Free in Whitley Bay

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on

Whitley Bay, north east of Newcastle upon Tyne, is one of my favourite places for a staycation. This modest seaside town has been revitalised in recent years by the renovation of one of its iconic landmarks the Spanish City. At the other end of the beach is St Mary’s Lighthouse, bookending this lovely resort. There are lots of things to do around the town, which don’t cost a lot and get everyone out in the fresh air. Here’s my #staycationinspiration …..

A day at the beach

Whitley Bay has a gorgeous expanse of sand and offers a perfect bucket and spade kind of day. The promenade stretches from the lighthouse to the Spanish City, which has recently had a facelift, and is a popular spot for brunch or afternoon tea. There are also two popular cafes about half way along the walk, The Rendezvous and The Links.

Rock Pooling

Kids young and old will delight in rock pooling around St Mary’s Lighthouse. You can find numerous treasures including crabs, sea anemones and a trove of shells.

Fossil Hunting/ Geology

On the far side of the Lighthouse towards Old Hartley, the beach becomes rockier and the geology changes dramatically. In fact it changes every couple of metres. You can clearly see the different layers and different types of rock. At the base of the cliff you can find a seam of coal. You may even discover a fossil.

St. Mary’s Lighthouse

St. Mary’s Lighthouse sits on a tidal island, jutting into the North Sea. For a small fee you can climb to the top of the lighthouse if it is open, please check the website for details and opening times : St Mary’s Lighthouse | North Tyneside Council. I can’t stop talking photos of the lighthouse.

The island itself is a nature reserve and a great spot for nature lovers, from sea birds to seals, so grab yourself a pair of binoculars and take a look for yourself. Please be careful and don’t disturb the seals, stick to the walkways and enjoy the wildlife from a distance.

The Waggonway

The Waggonway is a pleasant walk or cycle, car-free, route inland from the coast, with various trails along disused railway tracks.

Here are two suggested routes :

The-Waggonway-Cycle-Path-Route-Map.pdf (

Walk 1 – Wagonway | National Trust

We normally walk along Holywell Dene, a lovely nature reserve, and then join the Waggonway. Last time we went in June, we saw so much wildlife from tadpoles to butterflies and wildflowers galore.

My final tip for the early risers is a walk to the sea front to enjoy the sun rise.

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