Old Hartley is a traditional holiday park and Whitley Bay a traditional seaside town, making it an ideal place for families to stay and a brilliant base from which to head into Newcastle on the Metro system or just explore the local area and the nearby leisure centre.
A small site on the cliff above the beach. Each pitch on site gets a lovely view of the sea and St Mary’s lighthouse. There are cliff top paths in both directions and lovely beaches to explore within minutes from the site.
Motorhomes & Caravans
- BBQs allowed: charcoal, gas, electric
- Disabled facilities: facilities for wheelchair disabled
- Disabled shower room
- Dishwashing area
- Dog walk from site
- Drive over waste disposal for motorhomes
- Electric hook-up
- Laundry facilities
- Motorhome service point
- Toilet block +Free hot Showers
- TV reception: fair
Old Hartley Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is perfectly placed for access from various different directions.
From the North or South, the A1 / M1 will bring you to the A19. Follow this road until you reach the A190 and turn left onto it. This will take you to Seaton Sluice, turn right onto the A193 until you reach a roundabout, take the first left at the Delaval Arms pub. You will now be at a crossroads, take the left road passed some houses on your left and enter the campsite straight in front of you. Don’t take the left fork or you will end up at the Old Hartley public car park.
From the West, there are various routes but we arrived via the A69, then onto the A1 and then followed the above route.
Less than 1 mile away from the campsite and via a dedicated walking & cycle path is St. Mary’s Lighthouse, built on St Mary’s Island. The island is a tidal island and can be accessed by a causeway at low tide. Following a number of ship wrecks off the island in the 19th century St Mary’s Lighthouse was commissioned by Trinity House and built between 1896 and 1898. It remained operational until 1984 when it was superseded by modern navigational techniques. Since then the Lighthouse and former keepers’ cottages have been operated as a visitor centre by North Tyneside Council. We would recommend a walk to the island, which is an easy walk but be aware of tide times.
If you walk out of the campsite and take a sharp left, you can then walk down to Hartley carpark. From here you can turn right, which takes you to the lighthouse and miles of coastal paths beyond it. If you turn left, you will access a path which is adjacent to the bottom of the campsite. This path will take you to Seaton Sluice, about 1 mile away. Seaton Sluice is a village divided by a bridge, across the Seaton Burn. It has a nice beach and a pleasant small central park with public toilets and pubs close by. The local chip shop, The Harbour View, has a reputation for good fish and chips but alas Aileen and me had a different opinion. See our account below in the ‘Read about our trip’ section.
Back to Hartley carpark and if you turn right this time, you will have the opportunity to walk or cycle for miles. First up, after St Mary’s Lighthouse, is Whitley Bay Beach. 1.5 miles of lovely sandy beach, flanked by the sea and a promenade taking you passed cafes, leisure activities such as the Waves Leisure Complex and lots of green park space.
Next up is Whitley Bay itself. It’s clearly a seaside town with the usual amusements, beachwear shops and signage pointing to various visitor attractions. It is what it is but it doesn’t feel tacky or lacking in character and is worth a visit. The one place you will spot is the Spanish City. Now a dining and leisure centre, it opened in 1910 as a concert hall, restaurant, roof garden and tearoom. A ballroom was added in 1920 and later a permanent funfair.
Further down the coast and about 5 miles from the campsite is the town of Tynemouth. Much more photogenic than Whiteley and makes for an enjoyable day exploring. Some highlights include-
- Tynemouth Market. Stalls selling art, crafts and bric-a-brac line the aisles of this market in a station building.
- Tynemouth Priory & Castle. Was an enclosure fortification built around an existing Priory. The fortification re-used the earthworks of earlier defences and evolved into one of the strongest fortifications in northern England. The Priory was suppressed by Henry VIII and the site was then adapted into an artillery fortification to defend access into the River Tyne.
- King Edwards Bay. Is a small, sandy beach sheltered by cliffs and grassy banks. Popular with families, the beach is overlooked by the historic Tynemouth Priory and Castle, managed by English Heritage.
- Tynemouth Park. For a great fun packed day out for the whole family
- Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Museum. A blue and white building known locally as the Watch House stands along the mouth of the River Tyne. Step inside, and you’ll find a collection of artifacts belonging to the world’s first volunteer life brigade, which was founded after a maritime tragedy.
- Lord Collingwood Monument. Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood, lived from 26 September 1748 to 7 March 1810. He was the son of a Newcastle merchant. In June 1775 he fought at the battle of Bunker Hill during the siege of Boston, and on the same day was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Collingwood served alongside Nelson two years later, and in 1779 succeeded him as captain of HMS Badger.
- The Tynemouth Surf Co. and Longsands Surf School offer surfing lessons for all ages and abilities.
It’s safe to say that the local area will keep you occupied and all within walking or cycling distance. We would definitely recommend a visit to Whitley Bay.
No sooner were we back from our trip to Haltwhistle than we were planning our next trip. Trying to make up for lost time due to the Covid lockdown but also keen to stay safe and be responsible.
Once again it was a case of looking at the weather app to see where the sun would be shining and as it turned out, the sunniest spot was about 45 miles further along the A69 from Haltwhistle! So, off we set. Back over the Scottish / English border, which is generally irrelevant but in these days of COVID, it results in going from one country with its current lockdown position to another with a slightly different timetable of easing. We researched the differences to ensure that we would adhere to them.
Old Hartley Caravan Club site is a member only site on the a cliff above the beach. It has a lovely view of the sea and St Mary’s lighthouse and the town centre of Seaton Sluice is about 1 mile away.
Our journey from Glasgow was uneventful and we arrived at the reception area of the campsite just before 1pm. We were met by a friendly member of staff and informed of the campsite’s current policies regards COVID. We were then informed that we could choose our own pitch, which is always nice to hear and gives you the freedom to find that ‘perfect’ spot. As luck would have it, we found a small pitch at the bottom of the campsite, near the perimeter fence and with great views. All was good.
We soon struck up a conversation with an older couple, David & Isobel, who were pitched up next to us, with their caravan. David was now retired, after years of driving trucks and clearly had an encyclopaedic knowledge of roads and towns. He had passed through our home town years before and was able to describe it pretty well. The couple, in particular David, enjoyed a chat. Which was appreciated and we had planned to spend more time talking to them over the next couple of days but unfortunately due to the weather chasing everyone into their vans and us out walking for hours, it never materialised. During one of our conversations that we did manage, David recommended the local chip shop in Seaton Sluice. Stating that it has the best fish and chips that we will ever taste. Isobel agreed and added that she hates soggy chips, so always gets the shop to separate the fish from the chips, just to keep the chips nice and crisp. This sounded like the place to go and we decided to head there on our last night. As it turned out, so was half the campsite including David and Isobel. More to follow on this later!
We had decided to stay 3 nights and looked forward to relaxing in the sun, that had been forecast. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas which resulted in 3 days of jumping in and out of our camper between showers. That and the strong coastal wind certainly took the shine off us expecting to be bathed in sunshine and lying about on our portable sun loungers. Never mind, at least there would be lots to see and walks to taken.
Here are some of our highlights: –
Seaton Sluice, with is an interesting if not unfortunate name, is less than 1 mile from the campsite and can be reached in a couple of ways. You can either follow the path that follows the coast and is accessed via Hartley public carpark or you can walk up to the main road and turn right at the Delaval Arms pub, which was being refurbished when we were staying. Either way, it makes for a pleasant walk. The town itself offers a few pubs, a small but pleasant central green space with public toilets and a picturesque harbour. Oh yeah and a famous chip shop.
We would recommend a walk to St. Mary’s Lighthouse. Our position in the campsite gave us a perfect view and it was nice to wake up in the morning, open the curtains and look across at it. The lighthouse is on a tidal island, St Mary’s Island and this adds to the ever-changing view you get. During our 1st night stroll, we made our way down to a small beach below the campsite. The beach has unusual rock formations which actually look like large sections of wood but on closer inspection are definitely rocks. From here, we were able to see that the causeway across to the lighthouse was accessible and we took a note of the time, 8.00pm, as it would be our intention to cross over the following night. As it turned out, the weather wasn’t great the following night so we had to leave it until our last night. Which, as it turned out was perfect as it helped burn off the chips, we had from the Seaton Sluice chip shop.
On day 2, we set off for a walk to nearby Whitely Bay. Leaving the campsite and turning a sharp right will take you to Hartley Public car park. Turn right at the bottom of the hill and that’s you on a very pleasant path that is shared by walkers and cyclists. Whilst on the subject of cyclists, we regretted not bringing our bikes as the surrounding area is perfect for cyclist and it turned out that our walk to Whitely Bay was on National Cycle Network route number 1! That said, we enjoyed our walk along the sandy beach which stretched for 1.5 miles into the town.
The town itself has all the elements of a seaside town with the usual amusements, beachwear shops and signage pointing to various visitor attractions but it avoided the overpowering shop fronts with kiss me quick hats and managed to keep its personality.
For us, our trip on day 3 to Tynemouth was the most memorable. Further down the coast and about 5 miles from the campsite is the town of Tynemouth. Much more photogenic with historic monuments, ancient buildings and pretty coves; we managed to pass the afternoon away quite easily. We decided to take Dora, our campervan and parked up in the town centre close to shops and pubs. The weather was sunny but remained windy, which took the edge off the temperature. Tynemouth Priory & Castle was a stone through away from where we had parked, so that was where we started. Turning right at the top of Front Street we walked down Pier Road, which gave us some nice photos of the castle. Then turning right at Tynemouth Pier, which has Lighthouse, we made our way passed the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Museum. A blue and white building known locally as the Watch House stands along the mouth of the River Tyne. Step inside, and you’ll find a collection of artifacts belonging to the world’s first volunteer life brigade, which was founded after a maritime tragedy. Then passed the Collingwood Monument before looping back towards Front Street again. This time, we turned left at the top of Front Street, which took us passed King Edwards Bay. Is a small, sandy beach sheltered by cliffs and grassy banks. Popular with families, the beach is overlooked by the historic Tynemouth Priory and Castle, managed by English Heritage.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the campsite as we wanted to have a bit of chillout time before we took our walk to Seaton Sluice for those famous chips!
Sam, our 13-year-old Lakeland Terrier / poodle cross, was starting to feel the strain of all the walking we had done over the past few days. So, we were going to leave him behind in Dora if possible but as it turned out the sun was still high in the sky and Dora would have been too warm, so he had no choice but to come with us.
When we finally arrive at the chip shop, there was already a large queue with social distancing being observed and only 2 customers allowed in the shop at any one time but the queue was moving quickly. Just as well as we were starving and looking forward to our chips.
We had watching customer after customer leave with large paper bags full to the brim with meals. In fact, one customer had a large shopping bag on wheels which was packed full of no doubt various chip supper combinations! We were beginning to salivate, then finally we reached the front of the queue. Aileen was ushered in and I stood outside with Sam, who was also salivating. In no time at all, Aileen returned with the chips, tomato sauce, forks and a couple of napkins, perfect!
We found a nearby bench and prepared to gorge in our crispy chips.
We both spiked our chips with our forks, expecting the crispy chip exterior to resist our forks but to our surprise and bewilderment our forks met no resistance and disappeared into what can only be described as a mushy, chip shaped, potato. We frantically searched around, just in case we had both been unlucky and spiked the only mushy chip in the pack but as we frantically dug around, all we seemed to be creating was mashed potatoes.
Our hearts sank and our dismay turned to pissed off but what could we do. We had to try and eat some of it, we were starving. At least I had the consolation of a single sausage in my meal but Aileen was devastated. Sam managed to persuade us to give him a few chips but he has a dodgy stomach, so we didn’t want to take the chance.
Back at the campsite, we had just reached our pitch when David and Isobel pulled up. They had been further back in the queue and had seen us waiting. David excitedly asked ‘Well, what did you think of the chips then?’ I did my best to be diplomatic but I think they both knew that our night out to the chippy had been a major disappointment. Then Sam’s stomach began to make weird noises, this was going to be a long night.
We would recommend a stay at Old Hartley Caravan Club site and we will no doubt return. Although we will stay away from the chip shop!
As for Sam, he survived the night and is looking forward to our next adventure.