I’m feeling 22… It’s a week since my 22nd birthday, and I had the perfect weekend – sun, alcohol and loved ones… Can you think of anything better? The day started out with breakfast, which actually ended up being lunch, followed by a trip to Dunston Staiths and, finally, ending the afternoon with a bike ride home.
The Staiths Cafe
The Staiths Cafe, which opened in 2014, is a lovely little cafe down by Dunston Staiths. Open and airy, it’s perfect for a sunny day especially with a small outside seating area looking out onto the River Tyne and the Staiths themselves. It’s my go-to spot when I’ve lost inspiration at home, with the relaxing yet social atmosphere around me, free wifi and lots and lots of dogs… Did I mention this place was dog-friendly?! That’s right, if you’re a huge dog lover like I am, this is the ultimate spot for coffee and cake (or tea, for me!).
Being a favourite spot of mine, I should have known when Lee told me to get dressed and sorted on my birthday morning that this was where he was taking me, especially with the weather being as spectacular as it was. What started out as going for breakfast, soon turned into going for lunch (because what woman can get ready when they don’t know where they’re going?!). Despite breakfast being served until 4pm, it just didn’t seem right! I opted for the chicken, bacon and cheese panini instead and boy was it delicious! Don’t you think it looks good?
Dunston Staiths was originally built in 1893, when the coal industry was booming in the North East. They were used to load the coal onto the colliers ready to be transported to their destination. The Staiths’ at Dunston alone loaded 5.5 millions tonnes per year, before closing in the 1980’s. Now, the impressive Grade 2 listed timber structures remain and are open to the public between March and September.
What I didn’t know when we reached the cafe, was that Lee had brought me down here because the first food market of the year had arrived. It’s held on the 2nd Saturday of every month between May and September and sits right on the lower deck.
From street food, to produce, to alcohol, Saturday’s food market had it all. Some of my favourites were the Albion Grilled Cheese and Simply Cheesecake stalls. The first market of the year, and a sunny day, brought plenty of people along. When we arrived at 2pm, the queue was still backed up to the footpath along the river. This meant that a lot of the stalls had already run out of stock, which was a shame. Instead, we decided to head up the top deck of the pier instead. The views are incredible!
The Ride Home
While sat in The Staiths Cafe, I spotted two Mobike’s which had been left in the little courtyard area. Once we were finished eating, we decided we’d unlock them and ride down to the food market, before riding home. Mobike have been operating in Newcastle since October last year, but recently increased their numbers to meet demand. They are a station-less operator, meaning you can hop on and off them as you please. If you’re from Newcastle, you’ll know exactly what these are… as they’re usually dotted around everywhere, including in the silliest of places. Use the app on your phone and you can find the nearest bike to you, unlock it and start riding. You can even reserve a bike (up to 15 minutes) so, if you’re popping into a shop, you know it’s still going to be there when you come out!
In the sunny weather, we decided to take a little detour on the cycle home. Instead of heading back to The Staiths Cafe and up to the flat the way we usually walk, we rode through Saltmarsh Garden to Dunston along to Low Teams. It was lovely bike ride, despite the number of green flies coming at us. It made a nice change from the norm, but it did call for a much-needed birthday pint in the pub.
All in all, it was a fabulous day out before the real celebrations began in the evening. With the weather set to stay for a little while and the next food market due in June, Dunston Staiths is well worth a visit. If you’re looking for a free/cheap day out, hire those Mobike’s and head on down… you won’t regret it!
Do you have a favourite place to visit in the North East? Let me know in the comments below!