Riding the Seasider open-topped bus

Stuart Forster looks at the experience of exploring northeast 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 northeast 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.

Riding the Seasider's upper deck.
Riding the Seasider’s upper deck.

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.

The Seasider running along the coast road.
The Seasider running along the coast road.

We decided to scout out the full length of the 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.

Tynemouth pool seen from the Seasider.
Tynemouth pool seen from the Seasider.

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 9.00 am and 3.30 pm 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 stalls looked and smelt tempting but we’d already agreed that while in Tynemouth we’d pause for fish and chips at Longsands Fish Kitchen.

Fish and chips from Longsands in Tynemouth.
Fish and chips from Longsands in Tynemouth.

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.

The Tynemouth Volunteer Lifeboat Brigade watch house at Tynemouth.
The Tynemouth Volunteer Lifeboat Brigade watch house at Tynemouth.

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.

St Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay.
St Mary’s Lighthouse at Whitley Bay.

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.

The Spanish City in Whitley Bay.
The Spanish City in Whitley Bay.

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.

The Fiddlers Green sculpture in North Shields.
The Fiddlers Green sculpture in North Shields.

Further information

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 9.57 am until 3.27 pm. The service from Whitley Bay Metro station departs from 10.20 am until 3.50 pm.

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.

The Seasider open-topped bus.
The Seasider open-topped bus.

Seasider ticket prices

Single tickets for the seasider are priced at £2.50. All-day tickets, enabling guests to hop on and 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.

A number of passes, including Day Rover tickets, are valid on the Seasider (see the Nexus, Stagecoach North East and Network One websites for details.)

King Edward's Bay at Tynemouth.
King Edward’s Bay at Tynemouth.

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.

The gun at Tynemouth Priory and Castle.
The gun at Tynemouth Priory and Castle.

Visiting North East England

See the Visit North East England website for ideas about places to visit in the region. The Visit England website also has information about attractions and events.

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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  • Geoff Moore

    April 30, 2019 at 16:45 Reply

    Nice post, very detailed. Will give it a try next time I am in the area.

    • Stuart Forster

      May 1, 2019 at 10:41 Reply

      Do. The upper deck is a good place to photograph the region’s beaches.

  • Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me)

    May 2, 2019 at 13:13 Reply

    Funnily enough, we were in Whitley Bay over Easter, and I saw the Seasider come trundling past! I did wonder about it – thanks for elucidating.

    • Stuart Forster

      May 3, 2019 at 15:44 Reply

      Glad to have been of help!

  • Karen Palmer

    August 16, 2019 at 21:35 Reply

    My friend and I and our two sons are thinking about a full day out, starting from getting a bus from our homes in Sunderland , to Sunderland City Centre, then hopping on a bus to South Shields, then travelling on the Shields Ferry over to North Shields, when there, jumping on the Seasider bus to Whitley Bay and maybe stopping off en route at Tynemouth, but ultimately ending up in Whitley Bay. Journey back, maybe the same mode of transport or we may decide to get the Metro instead. Fingers crossed the weather will be lovely next week, so we are able to do this and a very big thanks for letting us know that we can use a Day Rover ticket on the Seasider bus, as it will be cheaper for us to buy a family ticket for £15.50 for the 4 of us, rather than buying 2 adult tickets at £7.80 each and the kids using their Pop passes at £1.10 each.

    • Stuart Forster

      August 17, 2019 at 15:34 Reply

      Enjoy your day out! Hopefully the weather will be lovely.

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