Our tip to Old Hartley Caravan Club site was a 2 hour journey up the A19 and through the Tyne Tunnel (£1.60 each way for Monty). We then took a scenic route off the A19 on to the A1058 to drive along the coastal road running through Cullercoats, Whitley Bay and onto Old Hartley.
Arriving at the site reception, we were warmly greeted by the warden, who informed us of the available and best pitches.
The site is perched on a grassy cliff top overlooking the lighthouse on St Mary's Island. No awnings allowed on site which aids in better views for all. Certain pitches will need levelling ramps. The site is well maintained and the facilities are modern and spotlessly clean. We pitched with a view straight out to sea and a good view of the lighthouse.
We set off on foot in search of sustenance. Approx 15mins walk from the site via the main road or 25 mins via the cliff top walk to Seaton Sluice you will find a corner shop, Premiere – equivalent to a small Spar which stocks everything you might need. For those who like a pub or two you’ll love the area. At the top of the site is the Delavel Arms, then walk past the Premiere shop and you will find 3 more pubs. Careful if walking back along the coastal path if you have been visiting the local hostels!
We decided to have a fish and chip supper on the first night at Harbour fish and chip takeaway and restaurant in Sleaton Sluice.
The large fish was huge,the size of the oval plate! Washed down with good old Newcastle Brown Ale - no longer brewed in the area but at Tadcaster in North Yorkshire. The restaurant was well decorated with a nautical theme. We took the coastal route back to burn off a few calories.
During the night it rained quite heavily and we woke up the following morning to thick fog obscuring the lighthouse. Undeterred, after breakfast we set off to walk to St. Mary’s lighthouse. This can only be accessed at certain times when the tide is out so check opening times before visiting. If visiting by car there is a large pay and display car park with toilet block and food/refreshment vans. Walking across the causeway you can peer in the rock pools left behind at the sides. As we reached the lighthouse the fog was beginning to thin so we decided to climb the 137 steps to the top of the lighthouse.
The last few steps were the worst as they were more like climbing a ladder. From the top you get a good view of Whitley Bay Beach (and probably a lot more on a clear day).
From the lighthouse we walked along a promenade and down onto the beach. The fog cleared and the sun came out as we walked along.
We walked quite a distance to the far end of Whitley Bay, enjoyed a latte at a beach front cafe and then noticed that the weather was taking a turn for the worse so we decided to catch a bus back to the site. (There is an excellent bus service, the 308 or 309 can be boarded 10 mins from the site which will take you right in to Newcastle – we only used the service to get back from the far end of Whitley Bay to the site). We got back to the site and then the rain set in again.
As mentioned there are several pubs to choose from for eating - one offers £5.95 carvery, the others varied in price and pub fayre. As it was raining we decided not to venture far so we went for tea at the Delavel Arms at the top of the site. The pub food was excellent and tasty, the price was great and the staff friendly.
Sunday morning was foggy again and sadly it was time to pack up and set off home but we decided to drive down to St. Mary’s car park for an hour.
Motorhomes can park here as long as you pay for the spaces you occupy. We purchased two one hour tickets and sat and enjoyed the views. Twenty minutes in a traffic warden van arrived and two wardens got out and started checking for tickets.
(Traffic warden checking for tickets)
This caused a sudden panic and ten cars and one german motorhome drove off? Chatting with the traffic warden he was happy to see we had purchased two tickets to cover the two bays we occupied. Time up we left but we would certainly like to come back soon.