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Getting back to nature in Newcastle

It might seem odd to suggest getting back to nature in a big city like Newcastle, but it’s not so strange when you consider that it’s just a stone’s throw from the coast. So, it’s actually the perfect destination if you fancy combining culture and seaside fun on your next family holiday.

It’s the seaside aspect we’ll be talking about today, especially as the local coastline is not only dotted with lovely little seaside towns, but also Blue Flag beaches, traditional fish and chip shops and plenty of family-friendly attractions. Here are some of our favourite things to do when popping to the coast for a day, while you can find out more about local attractions and where to stay at NewcastleGateshead.

Visit the lighthouses

The local coastline is home to some fantastic lighthouses that are great fun for families to visit. Souter Lighthouse, with its classic red and white striped design, is definitely among the best, not least because it was actually the first lighthouse in the world to be designed and built for electric power. Having opened in 1871, it is no longer operational, but it’s still one of the coastline’s icons.

Alternatively (or as well!), you could head to St Mary’s Lighthouse and Island, which you’ll find at Whitley Bay. This lighthouse guided ships to shore for just under a century, finally closing in 1984. Today, one of its main attractions for visitors is the fact that you can climb all the way to the top – and trust us, doing so will give you some outstanding views of the coast. You just need to be prepared to tackle 137 steps!

What we also like about coming here is that there’s plenty else to enjoy alongside the lighthouse. You see, it’s surrounded by a nature reserve, which the kids are bound to love exploring – there are rock pools, a beach, wetland habitats and more. There’s also a little shop where you can pick up toys and souvenirs for the children to take home.

Head to the aquarium

While you might assume that the coastline’s only really a good place to visit when the sun is out, that’s actually not the case. When the wind’s howling, for instance, the beaches can be dramatic settings for walks (we’ll talk more about beaches in a moment), while there are plenty of indoor attractions too.

Among the best is the Blue Reef Aquarium, which is on Tynemouth’s Grand Parade. Come here and you can see everything from cute harbour seals to even monkeys – not being a marine creature, the latter is bound to be a particular surprise! Daring kids will love seeing species like black tip reef sharks, while the rockpool encounters will give them the chance to get up close to weird and wonderful creatures.

Hit the beach

The great thing about the coastline near Newcastle is that it’s home to lots of Blue Flag beaches. Stretches of sand with this award are known for being clean and safe, which makes them perfect for families.

Tynemouth Longsands is one of the beaches with Blue Flag status, and it has everything from pretty dunes and cliffs to a charming cafe right on the beach. King Edward’s Bay, meanwhile, is a lovely little beach that’s actually located below the fantastic Tynemouth Priory and Castle. Combining trips to both is a great basis for a day out, especially when the sun is shining!

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Natural Holidays in Lapland

It seems that when most people imagine their dream holidays, tropical beaches come to mind. They want to escape the relatively cold weather of their temperate homes and relax in shorts and flipflops, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for some people, a sense of adventure draws them in the opposite direction—the far north. The Arctic Circle makes for a unique holiday destination for many reasons, but the most obvious is the natural environment and outdoors activities that are only possible there. Lapland in particular has many exciting activities to offer.

Natural Holidays in Lapland 1This region that spans both Sweden and Finland is a paradise for those that love the outdoors, though it changes drastically with the seasons. The difference between winter and summer there is dramatic, to say the least. In the winter, the harsh Lapland climate is intimidating but allows for some of the most scenic skiing in the world. The top-rated resorts have excellent terrain and almost non-existent lift lines, with expansive panoramic views over vast tracts of wilderness on clear days. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are also popular activities, and in some regions are actually necessary for basic transportation when the snow buries roads for extended periods of time. Some remote Scandinavian villages still rely on dog sleds for transporting goods and supplies across long distances, and dog sled treks are a fantastic way for visitors to get a feel for the people, the countryside, and the animals. Bonding with the hardworking sled dogs is a fun and rewarding experience for anyone, and trips lasting anywhere from a week to an afternoon are easy to arrange. Snowmobiling, the modern answer to dog sledding, is another popular activity for visitors.

Natural Holidays in Lapland 2After and before the depth of winter, in March and September the earth is at its best location for viewing the famed aurora borealis, or northern lights. During the spring and fall equinoxes of these months, there is an increased chance of the geomagnetic storms that ignite the wildest colors of this eerie and beautiful phenomenon. To get the best views of the northern lights, escape the larger towns and cities and instead seek areas with less light pollution coming from human activity. Experiencing these sweeping curtains of color in the sky is undoubtedly the highlight for many visitors to Lapland and other areas in the far north.

Natural Holidays in Lapland 3In the summer, the weather becomes surprisingly temperate. Sweden and Finland are both marvelously pleasant at this time of year, and activities like trekking become more popular. Abisto National Park, one of Europe’s largest natural areas, is the home of the Kungsleden (“King’s Trail,”) a 425 km trek that takes about a month. Small trips are also very feasible, and take intrepid visitors through beautiful countryside, glacial waterfalls and lakes, and fields of wildflowers. Kayaking is another common pursuit.

Lapland is a beautiful area, and visiting at any time of year is a rewarding experience. So why stay on the beaten path? Leave the sunscreen at home and go on a real adventure.

 

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