Ok so strictly speaking this is cheating as we did this walk up the Simonside Hills WITHOUT the kids, but we passed several families on route, some with babies in rucksacks and others with older children scrambling around the rocks. It’s worth the climb, which is not really too strenuous as the views are just breathtaking. There’s tales to tell en route of mythical dwarves and neolithic carvings to look out for on the unusual shaped crags (although I didn’t realise cavemen could carve i luv kev)? And most importantly the most perfect picnic spots sheltered behind the rocks looking out to panoramic views across to the Cheviots. Just beautiful.
We followed this walk, but there are other shorter ones too from the carparks http://www.theaa.com/walks/the-ancient-spirit-of-the-simonsides-420345
Took the balance bike for a spin along the river in Morpeth. The path by the Wansbeck from Carlisle Park to the Steppy Stones is nice and flat, great for cycling and scootering. There is a car park opposite the park in the town centre, just a few minutes walk from the playground where there are two separate play areas for younger and older children. There are also plenty of side streets around High Stanners, near the the Steppy Stones. If you cross over the river by the stones the path leads you up into the town centre where there are plenty of cafes. If you have a pushchair, there is a bridge a little further up that you can use to cross instead. The independent Appleby’s Bookshop has a great children’s section with an ideally placed cafe inside right next to it, handy if your little ones don’t want to keep still while you finish your cuppa.
My four-year-old daughter loves to scooter, so at the weekend I tried to think of somewhere we could go where she could bomb around without me worrying about her careering off into a road, and where there was a smooth path with not too many hills and also a bit of pleasant scenery for me to look at too. The Links at Whitley Bay turned out to be perfect. We parked in one of the cliff top carparks and then followed the path along the cliff and then down along the promenade, perfect for getting up a bit of speed. Thankfully I hadn’t brought her helmet, otherwise I might have been brave enough to let her have a go in the skate park as the moody teenage skateboarders were being put to shame by the tiniest of tots tearing up and down the ramps on scooters and mini bikes – some complete with pink tassels, baskets and dolly seats.
Refreshment-wise try the Rendez-Vous cafe or the cafe at The Links Art Gallery both on Dukes Walk. Public toilets with baby change are also available next to the cafe.
St Mary’s Lighthouse – tide permitting it is a lovely walk over and round the lighthouse, there is also a small beach and hundreds of rock pool
The wonderful Waves swimming pool has a wave machine (obviously) and pirate ship and splash pool all great for little ones.
A trip to Seven Stories has never failed to disappoint but the current Julia Donaldson exhibition has got to be the one of my favourites. I wasn’t the only mum queuing up to get a sneaky picture of myself next to the legend himself too. As well as stepping into the world of many of her most famous books, there are also fascinating displays that reveal how her ideas made their way to the page.
There is floor after floor of top quality children’s entertainment. The wood beamed book-filled attic is the reading hideaway I could only have dreamed of as a child along with a dressing up corner packed with everything from gruffalos to dragons and princesses.
Although my two and four year olds were a bit unsure the first time they entered the Vikings Guide to Deadly Dragons with Cressida Cowell exhibition it didn’t take them long to get into character and were soon seated in their viking ship, helmet on head and shield in hand like it was the most normal thing in the world.
Seven Stories really does allow you to immerse yourself in the books in the exhibitions and everything is there to be explored by little hands and there’s never a question of not being allowed to touch anything.
Even for the clumsy crafter like me, the art and craft room on the bottom floor always offers some kind of activity so that your little one can leave proudly clutching their hand made souvenir, from viking helmet to aeroplane.
And of course, after all that reading and playing there’s a cafe on hand too.
Prices for an adult are £6.50 but an annual pass seems good value at £26.00
under fours are free and a child ticket costs £5.50 or £21.00 for a pass.