Stuart Forster looks at the experience of exploring north-east England while riding the Seasider open-topped bus.
The Seasider is a seasonal open-topped bus service that runs along the coast between North Shields and Whitley Bay in north-east England.
Disclosure: This post was paid for by Stagecoach, the company which operates the Seasider. Stagecoach did not review or approve this article.
Record high temperatures were recorded in England over Easter — ideal for sitting upstairs and enjoying coastal scenery on an open-topped double-decker. I planned a seaside all day date for the following weekend. How typical that the sky was overcast when I pulled back the bedroom curtains on the morning of our day out at the coast. A quick weather check revealed that the morning temperature would eventually rise into double digits. We’re a hardy bunch in North East England: a chilly start to the day wasn’t going to prevent us from heading to the coast.
An open-topped bus ride
Though the sky was cloudy and grey, the lure of riding the upper deck of an open-topped bus was enough for us to clomp straight upstairs after boarding the Seasider outside of Whitley Bay Metro station. We could have sat under the covered section of the first few rows. But we boarded the Seasider intent on embracing the experience whatever the weather. We were ready to feel the wind ruffling our hair, so grabbed a double-seat on the left-hand side of the bus to have optimal views of the beaches at Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth.
We decided to scout out the full length of 33-minute journey southward to the ferry landing in North Shields. Our day tickets meant we were able to stay aboard the Seasider as the bus turned around and headed north.
Visiting Tynemouth and its market
We could hop-off and back on at will, so decided to browse the stalls at Tynemouth Market (held between 9.00am and 3.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays inside of Tynemouth Station). Military memorabilia, second-hand books and craft items count among the goods on sale at the market, which spans both sides of the Metro line. Some of the street food stall looked and smelt tempting but we’d already agreed that while in Tynemouth we’d pause for fish and chips at Longsands Fish Kitchen.
There’s plenty in Tynemouth for a history-rich day out. The gun emplacement beyond the medieval ruins of Tynemouth Priory offers commanding views over the mouth of the Tyne. Tynemouth Volunteer Lifeboat Brigade’s restored watch house is packed with maritime artefacts and model ships that help tell the story of many of the rescues undertaken since 1864.
Drinks at the Spanish City
Surfing would be best left until a warmer day, we agreed, so we re-boarded the Seasider to the Spanish City. Conceived as pleasure gardens during the Edwardian era, the domed landmark re-opened during the summer of 2018 following a major restoration. The Spanish City’s upper floor now houses a Champagne bar. I ordered a G&T and a glass of Prosecco, which we sipped while enjoying views of St Mary’s Lighthouse as sunshine emerged between the parting clouds.
We debated what to do next. Should we take a stroll on the sand of Whitley Bay Beach? How about a round of crazy golf on the family-friendly Lost World Adventure Golf course in Tynemouth Park? Alternatively, we could head back down to North Shields to see Fiddlers Green, the fisherman’s memorial created by Ray Lonsdale, whose other notable works include Tommy at Seaham. That idea appealed to both of us.
Once again, we boarded the Seasider and made our way to the upper deck. With the sun shining I photographed as the open-topped bus carried us to North Shields. Summertime is on its way and the Seasider is a way of exploring and enjoying the coastline.
When the Seasider operates
The Seasider open-topped bus service operates along the coast, between Whitley Bay Metro station and the North Shields ferry terminal, until 15 September 2019.
Buses depart North Shields ferry terminal every 30 minutes from 9.57am until 3.27pm. The service from Whitley Bay Metro station departs from 10.20am until 3.50pm.
The Seasider is operational on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays plus school holidays (from Tuesday 28 May to Friday 31 May as well as from Monday 22 July until Friday 30 August). There will be no service on Sunday 8 September, the day of the Great North Run.
Seasider ticket prices
Single tickets for the seasider are priced at £2.50. All-day tickets, enabling guests to hop-on and hop-off at stops along the route are £4. Family day tickets, valid for up to two adults and three children, cost £8. Travel is free-of-charge with a Tyne and Wear Concessionary Travel Pass. With an Under-16 Pop card single tickets are priced at 60 pence while day tickets cost £1.10.
The route is dog friendly. Pet dogs can travel free-of-charge.
Discounts with Seasider tickets
Seasider ticket holders are entitled to the following discounts (see the Stagecoach website for full conditions of use):
25 per cent off (up to two) adult tickets for entry to Tynemouth Priory and Castle.
£2 off (up to two) tickets for entry to the Tynemouth Aquarium.
20 per cent off food at Trenchers restaurant at the Spanish City in Whitley Bay.
25 per cent off Black Storm products at the Storm Cellar bottle shop and tasting room in Whitley Bay.
Visiting North East England
You can also find ideas about things to do and see in earlier posts here on Go Eat Do, including this look at my walking in Newcastle travel tips.
Photographs illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.
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