The GardenDespatches from The Satyrs’ Forest

Notes from a walk through Newcastle

The gorgeous gorge that is the Tyne valley has no shortage of winsome views, but the most beautiful, in my opinion, is that which appears to one who goes down the Side.α In the Monument’s shadow, after passing the classical columns of the Theatre Royal and descending Grey Street as it becomes Dean Street, finally taking a turn onto the Side at the bottom, the lucky traveller will find themself towered over by the behemoth that is the Tyne Bridge:

The Tyne Bridge, a soaring green arch over the river, held up by two hulking sandstone-brick towers.
Photo by Alex Liivet. Licenced under CC BY-2.0.
A rickety old set of stairs leads into an area obscured by overgrown shrubbery.
The rotting wooden stairs, as seen on Google street view.

I’m not sure any photograph can ever match what it’s like to be there under that bridge. One of the most remarkable things about this view, though, has nothing to do with the view itself, but rather what happens if one walks down the Quayside for a little while, reaches an empty brownfield plot, and clambers up a set of rotting wooden stairs to its right. Because, inexplicably, just a few metres from the most beautiful view in town, one can find the second most beautiful view in town, a glorious lookout on every bridge linking the two banks of the river.

Seven bridges across the Tyne, flanked by Newcastle’s old buildings on the right and Gateshead’s modern regeneration on the left.

We don’t deserve this city.

I had initially neglected to bring a water bottle along with me; i had only intended a quick jaunt to the centre of town and back, and the foolhardy idea of walking all the way to Wallsend came to me spontaneously. This quickly proved a bad idea, and so i made a trek up to the corner shop, who thankfully had all the bottled water anyone could ever want or need.

After leaving fully rehydrated and ready to walk back, i noticed the most wonderful little thing. A parklet, this small opening of green space with some benches and inscriptions, tucked between a housing area and a construction site. I took some pictures — i would have loved to show them to you, but alas, my phone got stolen in the intervening time between this trip and me writing this post, taking the photographs with it.

Nevertheless, if you’d like to visit (or live vicariously through Google street view), it’s that little park adjacent to 5 Belmont Street. (Google stubbornly refuses to give a proper address, but you can’t miss it!)

An *exceedingly* evil looking office building next to a gigantic white cube bearing the logo "TechnipFMC".

An account of my thought process upon seeing the above building complex:

  • That building looks exceedingly evil, but i can’t quite place my finger on why…
  • I’m going to look the company up.
  • Ah, a fossil fuel company — they are evil!

Just a few yards ahead, crossing a foot-and-cycle bridge, i happened upon some strikingly relevant graffiti, alongside some other pieces which really sum up the modern English psyche: an Extinction Rebellion poster, a crossed out “EDL”,β and a cock and bollocks.

Graffiti on a blue bridge wall. Left to right: An XR poster saying 'Act Now', 'Kyle', 'EDL' (crossed out), 'Erok', 'FLK', and a cock and bollocks.

I carried a record from HMV (the Killers’ Hot Fuss, if you must know) the whole way, and let me tell you, my arms were positively aching by the end of it! At least i had a bag…γ

To sign off, here are some photos whose stories weren’t interesting enough to make the cut, as well as a map of the journey. Thank you for reading this disjoint mess.

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