If you haven't heard about the Great North Snowdogs - where have you been? The Great North Snowdogs are a large scale sculpture trail showcasing the artistic talent in the North East. There are 61 large dogs and 97 smaller dogs to find and enjoy. The trail continues until 29th November and at the end, the Snowdogs will be auctioned to raise money for St Oswald's Hospice.
Tyne and Wear Metro are supporting the trail and St Oswalds and indeed have sponsored two of their own dogs (You can find Pawdington near the Customs House in South Shields and Guide Dog on the North Shields Fish Quay near Taylors Seafood).
So the idea of driving around the North East to see all of the Snowdogs just doesn't appeal to me. Parking & traffic.......I'm not a fan. So when Tyne & Wear Metro asked if we'd like to work with them and see how we could find Snowdogs using their fantastic £10 family wristband deal, we jumped at the chance.
You can order your wristbands online (allow at least 48 hours for delivery). For just £10 a family of 5 (2 adults and 3 children) can enjoy unlimited travel across Tyne and Wear Metro, the Shields ferry and local rail services between Newcastle and Sunderland for one day. This is a MEGA bargain. You will receive a travel card and 5 wristbands which of course must be worn during your Great North Snowdog adventure.
There are 61 big dogs to find in total. WOW that's quite a lot - we had already spotted a couple on Northumberland Street and in intu Eldon Square and couldn't wait to tick more from our list. We parked our car at Wallsend Metro Station as there is a small FREE car park here and climbed aboard the Metro where we headed to Monument in Newcastle.
Like most kids, my three LOVE riding the metro and it did honestly feel like a real adventure. We climbed the steps out of monument station and spotted our first Snowdog outside of Waterstones - what a beauty! You can download a Great North Snowdogs app for 79p and enter a code for each Snowdog you find to 'unlock' them. We decided against this though as I didn't think my phone battery would cope with that plus snapchatting/live streaming/tweeting/taking photo and video footage. I think the old fashioned method of a pen and paper and ticking them from your list works just as well.
|Rosa Canina on Blackett Street (sponsored by The Botanist)|
Walking down Grey Street there are a further 2 Snowdogs outside of the theatre Royal - they are so sweet.
|Arthur, Grey Street (sponsored by Sanderson & Young)|
|Essence of the North, Grey Street (sponsored by Northumbria Water)|
We stopped for a quick breakfast at Violets on the Quayside (pricey but lovely) before walking along the Quayside where we found another three dogs (outside the Broad Chare and Pitcher & Piano). We were on a roll!
|Hadrian's Hound, Newcastle Quayside (sponsored by Deloitte)|
|Tyne Tail Jack, Newcastle Quayside (sponsored by The North Group - Artist Corinne Lewis-Ward)|
|Snowberry, Newcastle Quayside (sponsored by KPMG)|
So with the Newcastle Quayside side complete, we crossed the Millenium bridge to check out the Gateshead side. I've been to the Sage a couple of times but Steve and the kids have never set foot in the building. One of the things I love about the Great North Snowdogs is that they encourage you to really get out and about and explore your local area.
Inside the Sage you will find lots of snow puppies - it's also a fab place to stop and grab a seat for a little break. The views of the Tyne are superb, there's a free (but small) soft play area for younger kids and there are lots of points of interest including a time-lapse video featuring Question Time being recorded at the Sage.
|Disco Dog, Sage Gateshead (also sponsored by the Sage Gateshead)|
The Sage is also home to a fantastic range of Great North Snowdog gifts - if you're looking for a memento from the trail, this is the place to head.
Suitably rested we walked into Gateshead - reason no 987 I love the trail is that it encourages your family to get out and walk. Never in a million years would I suggest walking to Gateshead from Newcastle but today, we had a reason to and the exercise did us good. There are a couple of Snowdogs in Trinity Square and the Metro Station.
|Squares, Trinty Square - Gateshead (also sponsored by Trinity Square)|
From Gateshead Interchange we hopped on a Metro train to South Shields. I have travelled to South Shields many times before but I've always stayed on the coast. Call be naive but I didn't even realise they had a town centre! LOL! We walked down to the Customs House from the station and met one of our favourite Snowdogs.
|Pawdington, South Shields Customs House (sponsored by Tyne & Wear Metro)|
It's Pawdington! The detail on the dogs is fantastic - Pawdington even has his own marmalade sandwich much to the amusement of our children.
From Pawdington it's a short walk to the ferry terminal and we timed it just in time to catch a ferry that was leaving. Your travel card gives you free travel on the shields ferry and this trip was a first for us as a family - again the kids were loving it.
The ferry even has it's own Snowdog. Of course we had to ride up top........... Jack spent the entire journey shouting he could see the 'Kraken' in the sea and he was chasing us. Sometimes I wonder where I got him from.
The walk along North Shields Fish Quay is again, a lovely one. Here you will find two snowdogs.
|Skipper, North Shields Fish Quay. Designed by Joanne Wishart and sponsored by DFDS Seaways|
We took the opportunity to browse some of the fabulous seafood on offer and vowed we would be back sooner rather than later to pick up our next fish supper.
Guide dog was another real favourite for us - the map and detail on his coat is incredible. I love how he's looking out to sea - it's as if he's a real dog and protecting the land.
|Guide Dog, North Shields Fish Quay (sponsored by Tyne & Wear Metro)|
Yet another first for us......can you believe we've never walked from the fish quay to Tynemouth. It's such a picturesque walk and very easy for kids too. We walked all the way along the coast to Tynemouth Station where you'll find a regular weekend market.
It was around 2:30pm by this point and we'd been out of the house since before 9am so we were hungry and tired. We grabbed a table and ordered fish and chips from The Little Fishy. The owner Michael informed us that he sources all of his fish from the fish quay we had just walked from. It's good to keep it local.
With our tummies filled we felt like we could walk no more so called an end to our mission for that day. We counted that we'd seen 15 dogs in total and definitely have the bug now. The Great North Snowdogs provided us with some fantastic weekend entertainment for very little cost. I loved that we'd visited places we hadn't seen before and tried something new plus we had walked over 15k in total. Very impressive! With tired legs we climbed aboard the Metro from Tynemouth Station and headed back to Wallsend to collect our car.
The kids were happy and we all chatted about our favourite Snowdogs from the day and started planning our next Snowdog adventure.
Phew! Well done for getting to the bottom of this post, it's been a long one. I hope we've inspired you to get out and explore the North East and the Great North Snowdogs. If you'd like to see more from our adventure, take a look at our video below:-
Need To Know
The Great North Snowdog Trail continues until 29th November 2016. There are 61 'big dogs' and 97 'snow puppies' to find across the North East. The Snowdogs will be auctioned on 6th December and all funds raised will be donated to St Oswalds. Buy your tickets to the auction here (tickets cost £15 each and bidding is expected to start at around £4000).
- Remember to PROTECT THE PACK. Please DO NOT SIT ON THE SNOWDOGS or allow your children to either.
- Visit the Great North Snowdogs website here
- Download the Great North Snowdogs app here (79p - all profits go to St Oswalds Hospice)
- Download a Trail Map here (and check out the list of places you can buy your own map for a suggested donation of 50p)
- Buy your limited edition snowdog metro wristbands and family travel card for £10 here
- Download your Great North Snowdog activity pack here (opens PDF)
Let me know how many Snowdogs you've spotted so far :-)