Last summer when I was walking Hadrian’s Wall on my fundraising trip, I took a brief diversion on the way to see Bede’s chapel at Jarrow and the ancestral home of of George Washington in the aptly named Washington Hall.
In order to do this, I took a trip on the Shield Ferry that crosses the River Tyne about 2 miles from the mouth of the river. There have been ferries across the Tyne since the 14th century, and this is the only service that remains.
The ferry service makes just under 25,000 journeys a year and carries nearly 400,000 passengers a year. Two vessels currently operate the service, Pride of the Tyne, built in 1993 and Spirit of the Tyne, built in 2007. Usually, only one ferry is in operation at a time, although both are used during peak periods. The service typically operates every 30 minutes with a 7 minute crossing time.
The ferry is even included on the Tyne and Wear Metro and so as I have a connection to the area and like exploring places that aren’t necessarily touristic then I thought I would find a way to incorporate the ferry into my day.
You can see the route I took from the North Shields Metro down to the river with a brief diversion to the splendidly named Liddell Street. Incidentally Stan Laurel used to live in North Shields at the top of the map near where there word Lighthouse is.
The famous Laurel and Hardy Piano scene is said to be inspired by the steep steps that go down to the Quayside.
Above is the view of the first third of the Quayside stairs .
Generally the Shields Ferry service is used by commuters mainly from North Tyneside and South Tyneside. The ferry provides a viable alternative to travelling via Newcastle city centre on the Tyne and Wear Metro or driving through the Tyne Tunnel. The Shields Ferry can be used by cyclists and is part of the 1,695-mile-long (2,728 km) National Cycle Route 1 from Dover in the South East to Shetland in the North East.
It was a hot week when I was doing the walk so this short trip across the River Tyne provided a welcome a welcome breeze as well as being able to watch the waters and the ships go by. I hope you like my Youtube video I put showing what it was like.