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The Sketch

It was the weekend before Christmas. We’d arranged a trip to South Shields and Newcastle too see family members. Due to various house-based shenanigans, the girls were stopping with grandparents but Kas and me were in a hotel.

On the previous day we’d arrived just after lunchtime and then went down to South Shields beach for an ice cream. Really! We do it every time, even though the weather is often unsavoury. Well, why not? Toney Minchella has an indoor place that does great ice cream. It also does nice cakes and scones and coffee.

In the evening the girls stayed with Nana and Grandad while Kas and me went back to the hotel. We weren’t especially hungry so we just had snacks and beer in the hotel bar. It was functional.

Monday Morning

Monday morning was foggy, much as it had been for the whole of Sunday. Kas wanted to go for a run and I fancied some early morning caching. So we agreed we could do both from the Littlehaven Beach in South Shields. Kas spent an hour running south along the coast and I walked north. I walked right along to the mouth of the Tyne completing a series of adventure labs. After that, I climbed uphill a bit and did another series of labs based on the Roman Fort.

Both sets of labs had a bonus physical cache, plus there was another puzzle on the walk, so I found 13 caches in an hour. That was enough to celebrate with a traditional Premier Inn breakfast.

Off up the Toon

The ladies were all going shopping with Kas’s mum. Originally we were all going together to central Newcastle, but there was a last minute change of plan. I had always planned to go caching anyway, so Kas took my car and drove to the Metrocentre. I jumped on the Metro and went to central Newcastle. There was a station half a mile from the hotel, so she dropped me off first before going for the kids.

The Tyne and Wear Metro offers a very convenient service if you’re close to a station. The trains are quiet and fast, and fairly clean. It’s under public ownership, so the ticket prices are very reasonable. The most you can pay in a day is £4.80 for a ticket that takes you anywhere as many times as you want in 24 hours. I climbed aboard at the Tyne Dock station, bound for Haymarket.

Off we Go

The centre of Newcastle is very compact. It’s full of wonderful Georgian architecture and has a decent shopping area. It also has a cathedral, a university and a very large and imposing football ground. I was scheduled to visit all of them at some point during my day.

I started at Haymarket and initially walked south towards Newcastle Cathedral. I was alternating between a couple of sets of Adventure Labs and a load of “proper” caches. One of the proper caches was in celebration of the “Vampire Rabbit” round the back of the cathedral.

At Grainger Market there was a multi-cache that took me ages to work out. But once I had some coordinates it was an easy find.

Up the Football

St James’ Park can basically be seen from the moon. It’s by far and away the most identifiable building in the centre of town and you can see it from miles away. You can also see it when you’re standing right underneath it. Except, of course, if you’re really close you can’t see all of it without moving your head.

Back at the plot, there were a few in very close proximity to the stadium, including two actually stuck to it. One was awkward to find.

From here, I walked along some of Newcastle Town Wall on the west edge of the city centre. There was a set of Ad Labs there and it took me into the wonderful Blackfriars Square. It just goes to prove you can visit a place several times and still not really know it.

Down the River

From the centre I visited Newcastle Central Station for a quick service break and then headed off down to the riverside. There was another set of Ad Labs covering five of the bridges over the Tyne. It started at the upstream end and ran all the way down the Millenium footbridge.

While I was in between the first and second points I got a call from Kas. Shopping was done and they were off home. I’d arranged to meet them at East Boldon metro station, the closest to Kas’s mum’s house, so I had to speed up my walking a little bit to avoid making them wait for ages. I caught a train from the Central Station.

The Reckoning

Over the course of the day I’d made 39 finds, most of which were Adventure Labs. Urban caching can be quite slow going, but Ad Labs have provided a new dimension when in town, and I like them for that.