This review is of the Old Hartley Caravan & Motorhome Club site, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear and is based on our visit in March/April 2018 when we stayed for one week.
Firstly as always, the all important getting there. The Club provide directions from the A19 – easily reached from the A1 and are straightforward enough. On our visit there was a signpost missing at one of the roundabouts so we missed the turning, however it wasn’t a disaster – we just headed for the seafront and turned left! Our Site Arrival video below shows the recommended route but also an alternative that we think is viable and maybe better in the busier months, turning off from the A186 onto the A192 then B1325.
The site consists of 59 pitches, all hard standing. The hard standing area is smaller than you might be used to on Club sites and there is a considerable slope on the site so levelling ramps will almost certainly be required. You will be rewarded for your efforts however as almost every pitch is blessed with views out to sea, some facing nearby St Mary’s Island. Pitches at the front will get the most uninterrupted view but be aware that a public footpath runs along the cliff edge at the front of the site. As mentioned the site does slope so those at the front will have an uphill climb to the facilities block. The only chemical disposal point is located here too but there are further water/waste water and rubbish/recycling points at the front and back of the site. Arrival is from Midday as per usual for Club sites but there is no Late Night Arrivals area.
The facilities were kept immaculate throughout our stay despite it being a busy – and wet – Easter weekend. Shower cubicles may have been a little smaller than the usual offering but the showers more than made up for it. A wheelchair accessible wash room along with a laundry and wash up area completed the offering. Check out our short Site Tour below for a look around.
For those that like to get connected the usual pedestrian but adequate site Wi-Fi was available and both our ‘phone networks – Three and Vodafone – were fine for voice and data. TV was rated as fair, but we didn’t get the TV out during our stay, preferring the pub near the site!
A short walk past the pub from the site you’ll find the bus stop where you can travel along to Whitley Bay then inland to Newcastle in one direction or to Blyth in the other. Buses run roughly four times an hour six days a week and twice an hour on Sundays. The Metro will also take you into Newcastle, Gateshead, South Shields and Sunderland if you swap trains. Whitley Bay and Monkseaton are your nearest stations. We used Whitley Bay and the small free car park was full but there was no shortage of on street pay parking. The RingGo app is handy here. Five trains an hour during the day and it’s around 30 minutes into Newcastle centre.
Away from the site there’s no shortage of places to go and things to see. Almost next door is St Mary’s Island, easily walkable from the site but check tide times HERE. The town of Whitley Bay is a bit further along and for those that don’t fancy the walk there’s plenty of parking. A bit further along the coast you’ll come to Tynemouth. Check out the English Heritage managed Tynemouth Castle & Priory and blow away the cobwebs with a walk along the pier to the Lighthouse. Then walk around the headland to see Admiral Collingwood keeping watch over the mouth of the Tyne. Shopping, eating and drinking options with the chance to people watch are aplenty in Tynemouth’s Front Street and around.
A 40 minute or so drive away is the famous Beamish Museum – recreating life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, you could easily spend a day here if not longer – fortunately tickets are valid for year. What made our visit so enjoyable was the enthusiastic and knowledgeable role players – from bakers and dentists to mine shaft lift operators. Trams and buses circle the site regularly and wheelchairs can be accommodated. Dogs are welcome too and there is plenty of free parking as well. I can’t recommend it highly enough and there is also work in progress to recreate a 1950’s experience which I ‘m looking forward to seeing on a return visit.
I’ve already mentioned Newcastle and it’s an obvious draw, but if you have a spare day, take the train from Newcastle across to Carlisle through the beautiful Tyne valley. It takes about an hour and a half passing through the likes of Hexham and Haltwhistle on the way. It’s worth it for the journey alone but Carlisle deserves some of your time too. Check out the Cathedral area and Castle.
Much closer to the site – around a mile away is Seaton Delaval Hall ( https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall#) under the Stewardship of the National Trust. We ran out of time sadly but it’s on the list for a return visit.
You’ve no need to go hungry or thirsty whilst at Old Hartley. A Co-Op and Premier are a few minutes walk away along the main road and Sainsbury’s is just a few minutes drive away for a trolley load or fuel.
For eating and drinking out there are plenty of options nearby that ensure you can leave the car at the site. The Delaval Arms(https://thedelavalarms.wordpress.com/) is a couple of minutes walk away – it’s the pub you will have passed at the roundabout. Good value tasty pub grub with a selection of real ales and a friendly welcome make this a must visit. A little bit further you will find the Kings Arms (http://www.thekingsarms-ne.co.uk/) and Melton Constable (http://www.themeltonconstable.co.uk/) at Seaton Sluice. Food wise the Kings Arm’s just edged it in our view but both do some great food. The Waterford Arms didn’t have any real ale on our visit so we didn’t stop. Neither did we get to sample the offerings from the Harbour View (http://the-harbour-view.com/) chippy. We’ve had two points of view offered – one is that it’s the best chippy around – the other is that it’s only popular because of the massive portions. Regardless, judging by massive queues on Good Friday they’re clearly doing something right.