Visit 12 North East Lighthouses in One Day Challenge

Thanks to our writer Alyssa for this post and photos which was published in April 2023. Always check with venues direct for the most up to date information. 

Visit 12 North East Lighthouses in One Day Challenge


Back in 2020 when everyone was stockpiling toilet paper, I was stockpiling PVA glue, we were living in paper Mache madness for a while with Volcanoes, hot air balloons, and a lighthouse. 

We had a Wishlist on our corkboard that we would add to whenever someone said they wanted to do something before the lockdown was lifted, visiting a lighthouse was one of the first things added.

Then at one point as lockdown started easing you could pay £3.50 to hire the lighthouse for just your household, so we booked in and enjoyed the climb so much Phoebe exclaimed she wanted to visit all the lighthouses... such big dreams for a 5-year-old and who am I to stop her.

We’re currently working our way through the Wainwright mountains (there are 214 of them) so what are a few lighthouses…

Visit 12 North East Lighthouses in One Day Challenge



When we googled local lighthouses, I think I thought we found about 5 (St Marys/ Roker/ Souter/ Roker/ Seaham) but turns out there are 12 between Blyth and Seaham which blew my mind.

Looking a little further afield there are 28!!! (looking at google maps I may have missed some off) along the Northeast Coast between Berwick Lighthouse and Spurn Point Lighthouse (near Hull). 


You can view a Google Map with all of the lighthouse locations (and download it to your phone for free) here: North East Lighthouses Google Map 


The 12 lighthouses you can visit in one day are as follows: 
  • Blyth High Lighthouse

  • Blyth East Pier Habour Lighthouse*

  • St. Mary’s Lighthouse

  • Tynemouth Pier Lighthouse

  • Fish Quay Low Lighthouse

  • Fish Quay High Lighthouse** 

  • Herd Groyne Lighthouse

  • South Shields Lighthouse

  • The White Lighthouse

  • Souter Lighthouse

  • Roker Lighthouse

  • Seaham Lighthouse

*The first time we took this challenge on we accidentally missed Blyth East Pier Harbour Lighthouse on the map. The second time we attempted to visit it we epically failed, but more on that later….

**I didn’t even realize this one existed until I started doing some background research for this article... Whoops! It’s just around the corner from Fish Quay Low Lighthouse too - annoyingly! 

Also, just to note, back in September 2020, many of the piers were still closed with limited availability, thankfully this second time around the ones that were closed were open.


This challenge took us around 12 hours both times via car (I don’t think you’d have enough time in the day to attempt this challenge using public transport). 



I would recommend starting your journey at least 12 hours before sunset otherwise you’ll end up in Seaham in the dark, only able to see the green lighthouse light – whoops! 

You can probably get this done a bit quicker without kids (the girls were 2 & 5 in 2020 and are now 5 & 7 in 2023) but I’d still give the challenge the full 12 hours if you want to explore the areas etc.

Recommended Kit List

(Tell me you’re a Beaver Leader without telling me you’re a Beaver leader) 

  • An empty car boot - Both trips my other half asked - “How many days are you packing for?!”, he’s clearly not used to road-tripping with kids…

  • Backpack – We only used one for the four of us as you’ll only be carrying the odd bits here and there. It's nice to be hands-free.

  • Snacks. Lots and Lots of Snacks. You’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the car and walking along Piers, it’s nice to have a little pick me up, plus it's going to get pricey if you’re grabbing things along the way.

  • Packed lunches – (To keep costs down) We took packed lunch things sandwiches etc and a few things from Greggs (Because Aurora is obsessed with Greggs). There are some great places to stop along the Fish Quay too, we’ve stopped at one of the Fish and Chip places opposite the benches and had a lovely time.

  • Trainers/ Walking shoes/ beach shoes – You’ll be walking around 10 miles (16k) maybe more if you explore the areas around the lighthouses so comfortable shoes are an absolute must.

  • A small hand towel – for wiping the wet sand from your feet. There are a few lighthouses where you’ll be going from beach to Pier, if your feet are wet and sandy walking on the beach you’re going to get some uncomfortable rubbing walking along on the pier. I learned this lesson the hard way as both kids used my trousers to wipe their feet (See image 13) Learn from my mistakes - Dry feet are happy feet!

  • Sunshine Lotion/ Sun Hat/ Sunglasses – a burnt walker is a grumpy walker.

  • A Water Bottle per person – have you SEEN the floaties in kids' water bottles? Don’t do it.

  • A 2L bottle of water per person - We also pack a bottle of dilutey (Cordial) in the boot in case anyone wants juice in their bottle.

  • Caffeine – An absolute must for me, 12 active hours with the kids without caffeine sounds like a headache waiting to happen. I always pack Pepsi Max. A flask of tea/ coffee is also a good idea if you’re trying to keep costs down. There are places like Costa along the way but be mindful that they will add time to your journey.

  • First aid kit – As an overthinker, I’ve always got one to hand; no one expects to be stung by a bee, fall over, get a headache, or come out in hives (hello hay fever season) but these things happen. Plus having to hunt down somewhere that stocks these things will add time to your journey. (See image 14 - I created one using an Ikea Sockerbit box)

  • Half your child’s wardrobe – You may think I’m being a tad dramatic but hear me out, I pack 2 spare outfits each for car sickness (my kids don’t travel well) 2 outfits for “toilet accidents”, there are toilets along the way, but accidents do happen from time to time. A few spare outfits for after your kid has inevitably run toward the ocean/ rolled around in the sand. I definitely encourage mess, no need to stress though since it’s a quick fix. Don’t forget socks and underwear. And finally, PJs for when you’re finished for the day – Chances are the kids will fall a kip on the way home and unless you started at the crack of dawn it’ll probably be bedtime when you get home anyways. 

  • Fleecey blankets – the girls like to get cozy on the way home.

  • Plastic bags – for the mountain of dirty clothes/puked-on items.

  • Car Park Money – Some of the lighthouses like St. Mary's Lighthouse have a paid car park, we use our phones to pay on the app but you can pay using Physical money in some areas. I would be prepared for either situation. Some were free, some 70p per hour, others £1.60 per hour. I will share more info on this further down. Personally, I’d just budget around £10 to be on the safe side.

  • Car entertainment – If you’re anything like us you’ll already have an ‘Adventure playlist’ of all your favourite songs, a good playlist can help with motivation. It can also provide hilarity to your journey, if you were walking along Tynemouth front street on the 4th of March you might well have heard us all singing along word for word to ‘Cat – Big Block Sing song’ at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down. Those are the rules, if it comes on you drop what you are doing and sing your heart out. A few colouring books/ notepads and a pencil case were also a big hit with the girls.

  • Coats/ Jackets – Ours got left in the boot most of the time but they're always worth having for the great British weather.

  • Multipurpose spray – Bonus points if it's lemony. No one wants to sit in a car that smells like puke. Just saying.

  • Baby wipes – For the jam hands. If you know you know.

  • A charging Hoover at home – your car will end up filthy. What’s that saying – the messiness can be cleaned the memories will last a lifetime. Just keep repeating that to yourself and everything will be okay!!

  • Go Juice aka Petrol/ Electricity … whatever makes your car go – Blyth to Seaham is about 30 miles. Plus, all the stops along the way, don’t be ‘coasting’ on fumes…

  • A child carrier/ buggy/ - 10 miles is a lot for little legs and while the girls could happily walk this now they're a bit older, 2-year-old Aurora was carried a fair way, especially towards the end. Thinking long-term will help you out later in the day when those spritely legs start feeling heavy.

  • Binoculars - I always forget ours but they are a good shout! 

  • Power Pack/ charging leads - imagine how tragic it would be running out of battery as you reach a lighthouse. Pics or it didn’t happen…

Car Entertainment  

(ad - these are affiliate links) 

Okay so now you’re somewhat prepared for what lies ahead let’s talk about the first lighthouse on the list - 


Blyth High Lighthouse


Blyth High Lighthouse

This lighthouse has a really interesting backstory. It moved house! When it was first built in 1788  it was originally located much closer to the water, it also grew a few times to accommodate the height of the surrounding buildings. Nowadays it sits almost 100 meters inland and is now a Grade II listed building with it being one of the oldest structures in Blyth.


This lighthouse is just around the corner from Ridley Park, which looks like a great park (I will be taking the girls back to visit it in the near future).



We were really lucky and were able to find free parking just at the end of the street where the lighthouse is but failing that the backup plan was to park in the Ridley Park Car Park (use postcode NE24 3HF) and there is a short walk from there. There are also public toilets in Ridley Park should the need arise.
 


You can go right up to the Lighthouse and give it a hug (Lighthouse hugging is the new tree-hugging.)  Looking between the photos of our 2 visits the height difference in my kids is crazy, I might be that really cheesy parent who re-creates this photo just to track their height progress, how cute would that be to look back over?!

Then it was onto......

Blyth East Pier Habour Lighthouse 



Blyth East Pier Habour Lighthouse



This lighthouse was a geographical nightmare for us. We really struggled to find parking anywhere near it on this side of the River Blyth, so we traveled the 15 mins to the other side where Blyth Wind Farm is (NE243AG) but that effort was completely fruitless (access denied/ closed off by the Aluminium Terminal).

The beach next to this was quite nice though, I later learned this was connected to the Sandy Bay Caravan Park.
 

Read next: A Short Break at Sandy Bay Holiday Park 

After a short wander, we headed back to the car and set off towards the next lighthouse… If we weren’t so conscious of the time we probably could have parked up somewhere along Blyth Beach and taken a photo… Although we were able to take a photo of it from the top of the next lighthouse (binoculars would have been a good shout here too). 

Blyth East Pier Habour Lighthouse


Next up was.......


St. Mary’s Lighthouse



This lighthouse is one of our favourites, we’ve been here more times than I can count now, rock pool rambling, seal spotting, fossil frolicking, and stargazing at one of their Astrology nights.

St. Mary’s Lighthouse


Always be sure to check the causeway tidal times before visiting - this can be found on the Facebook page  (St.Mary's Lighthouse and Visitor Centre) and also on the North Tyneside Council information website . Otherwise, you’ll be stuck on the mainland unable to Lighthouse hug.  


We paid £1.60 using the app for this car park and we used the postcode (NE26 4RS) to get there. There is an Ice cream truck here that also sells hot drinks/ rock pooling nets too. 


St. Mary’s Lighthouse Visitor Centre





From an educational standpoint, this Lighthouse is absolutely fantastic. You can also climb the 137 steps up this lighthouse for a small fee: - £3.90 Adults, Senior Citizens, and Children £2 or a family ticket of 2 adults and 2 children comes to £9.

St. Mary’s Lighthouse - Steps to the top



St. Mary’s Lighthouse - view from the top


I’d also be mindful that the final 10 steps or so are very steep and narrow so I would not recommend climbing this part if you are claustrophobic. 


The lighthouse information center also has a small shop and toilets, although I think they prefer if you use the toilets on the mainlands to prevent overcrowding in the shop. 


After climbing the lighthouse we’d built quite an appetite so stopped to eat our Greggs goodies on one of the picnic benches outside, can you really beat a Sausage roll and a sprinkle donut?

Read next:

Whitley Bay to St Mary's Lighthouse Walk 

25 Fun Things to do in Whitley Bay 


St. Mary’s Lighthouse - Seals


Be sure to use the toilet before you leave as we struggled to find one at the next location and make sure you don't get too close or disturb the resident seals. 

We then moved onto.......


Tynemouth Pier Lighthouse 


Tynemouth Pier Lighthouse


This lighthouse is 1 of 2 lighthouses sheltering the mouth of the Tyne from the full force of the sea and is a popular dolphin spotting location from May - July. In 1909 this lighthouse was rebuilt after storm damage by ‘John Wolfe-Barry’ who is famous for the design and construction of the Tower Bridge in  London. 


This pier had been closed the last time we visited, so we got quite excited when we saw the gate was open. So excited in fact - we drove straight past the 2-hour FREE car park and parked in the paid car park.

You can imagine our reaction as we walked past it! The 2-hour free car park (Priors Haven Carpark - NE30 4DB) is opposite the entrance to the Tynemouth Rowing Club. 
With any luck, you’ll be able to find a spot.

If not, the paid car park (Tynemouth Shore Pay & Display - NE30 4DD ) is literally just around the corner Doh!! This was £1.60 to park, if you are a slow walker I would recommend paying for 2 hours because the pier is quite a long walk.
 

The opening hours of this pier are 7.30 am-4 pm every day except for Monday when it closes earlier at 1 pm.


We loved being able to see many of the lighthouses at the same time from this pier (Tynemouth, St Mary’s, Fish Quay Low Lighthouse, Herd Groyne Lighthouse, South Shields Lighthouse, and Souter in the distance.) 


We were also super lucky while walking along this pier, we found a pair of ‘Ligia Oceanica’ which at first we thought were giant woodlice. We almost didn't see them as they camouflage themselves pretty well.

Read next: Whitley Bay to Tynemouth Coastal Walk 

Next up was......

Fish Quay Low Lighthouse 


Fish Quay Low Lighthouse

You can find a busy but free nearby car park at NE30 1JQ, there are also toilet facilities at this car park. 
Now SUPER annoyingly while doing research on this Lighthouse I found it has a sister, literally a 2-minute drive away called Fish Quay High Lighthouse located at (NE30 1NF). 

Both of the Fish Quay lighthouses are hugable and were built by the same architect ‘John Stokoe’ who also built ‘Moot Hall’ further along the river Tyne. Moot Hall sits in between the Tyne Bridge and the Swing Bridge and can be seen clearly from the roof of Newcastle Castle keep - it was the first court in the country to hold weddings and civil ceremonies. It is also used by students for mock trials.

Moot Hall in Newcastle
Moot Hall in Newcastle 

The Fish Quay also has plenty of opportunities to grab a bite to eat, Fish and chips from the Waterfront Takeaway chippy will go down a treat if you can find a bench free opposite.

Fish and chips from Waterfront Chippy North Shields


Our next location was.......

Herd Groyne Lighthouse 


Herd Groyne Lighthouse


Before heading off toward this lighthouse, double-check your satnav isn’t asking you to drive into the Tyne as ours did. 

Our map went all funny on the approach to the Tyne tunnel…
  (Don’t forget to pay for your Toll charge, you can pre-pay which is cheaper or you have 24 hours after your journey to pay on the Tyne Tunnel website, after that excitement we eventually made it to South Tyneside. 


The postcode we used for this lighthouse and  South Shields Lighthouse was (2H4F+2R) we paid for parking using an app and we paid £1.80 for 2 hours. You will need extra time if you plan to play on the beach, it is a really nice beach.

Herd Groyne Lighthouse




This car park also has a free toilet which we used and can happily report it was lovely and clean. 


You can also park at (2H2J+X9) which is at the other end of the beach, it was much busier than the one we used because of the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park right next to it. 



Walking up towards Herd Groyne always reminds me of Dobby’s grave - sand dunes and all. Does the actual lighthouse remind anyone else of the Lunar Lander spacecraft? There is also a piece of public art nearby called ‘Conversation Piece’  - where you can see 22 statues known as Weebles - it was named aptly! 

South Shields Weebles



Built before both North Tyneside and South Tyneside Piers in 1882 a mere 13 meters tall Herd Groyne lighthouse still acts as a navigational aid to this day, sadly there is no access inside.




It is one of the few lighthouses in the country with an operational fog bell - Is it weird I want to go back on a foggy day to hear it? 

Read next: 15 Things to do in South Shields 

Once you’ve pretended you're walking on the moon, walk across the beach (or promenade) toward South Shields Lighthouse Pier. 

Next up......

South Shields Lighthouse Pier


South Shields Lighthouse Pier



This pier is really long, it seems to go on and on so be sure you have your water bottles/ snacks packed. You’ll also pass the South Shield’s Volunteer Life Brigade building, it's comforting to know we have such a great Search and Rescue team so close by.





I checked out their website (https://ssvlb.org.uk/ ) and saw they run Open days and you can organize group visits to the watch house. I might see if I can take my beaver group on a visit. 

This lighthouse alike Tynemouth Pier has plenty of benches, Aurora sat on each and every one, it's a long way for those little legs! 


The view from this lighthouse is great. We sat down at the foot of it and watched people fishing while we ate some snacks. 





While we were walking back towards the car we were lucky enough to see a DFDS Ferry leaving the Port.


We moved onto....... 


The White Lighthouse aka Seaburn Park Lighthouse 


The WHite Lighthouse with scaffolding



To our surprise, this lighthouse is currently surrounded by scaffolding. Luckily I have a photo from our last trip. This lighthouse has been inactive since 1903 and like Blyth High lighthouse this lighthouse also moved house to allow for harbour improvements.

Parking is a bit trickier for this lighthouse, we put (WJJM+FG) into the sat nav, and although we were lucky enough to find parking on Chichester Road, there is parking along the front street (Paid parking 8am-6pm) pay and display and there is also a Morrisons a short distance away with free parking for up to 3 hours. 

Read next: Roker to Seaburn Coastal Walk 

This lighthouse is super quick and will only take about 5 -10, there are also toilets close by.

Up next.......

Souter Lighthouse 


Souter Lighthouse




This lighthouse was the first purpose-built electric-powered lighthouse in the world and was built to protect ships crashing between the Tyne and Wear rivers - at one point it even had 2 lights, one to help ships further out and a lower one to protect ships close by.

The site is up there for educational visits and I will be taking the girls back to explore this site soon. If you check their Facebook page
you will also be able to see various events they run throughout the year. 


This lighthouse is open 11 am - 5 pm with the last entry at 4 pm, we got there around 5.30 pm so weren’t able to climb up the 67 steps; the site is free to visit if you have a national trust membership so if you can get there before 4 and have a membership it is definitely worth climbing.


If you don’t have a membership though, the prices are pretty steep for the time constraints of this challenge
  (£8 adults/ £4 children/ £20 family) so unless you started super early on in the day it might be worth just parking up, taking a photo, and leaving the exploration of this site for another day. 

Almost there......


Roker Lighthouse 


Roker Lighthouse



Fun fact about this lighthouse: you can take a tour UNDERNEITH the pier! How crazy is that! Their website has a booking system for the 90-120 minute tour, we've not taken it though as children need to be 10 years old. Potentially a child-free date night idea in the meantime. 





You can walk along the upper section of the pier if it is open. It was open during our 2020 trip but not on our 2023 trip; it is advertised as open 24/7 but the gates are closed and the public access is restricted in adverse weather conditions.

With any luck, you’ll get to walk this pier as the views around sunset/ early evening are fantastic. This is also a popular dolphin spotting location from around May - July.
 



If the gates are closed you can still get a photo with it on the beach, it’ll just be a little further away. 


For parking -  head over towards the Marine Walk Car Park  (WJCP+74) parking here is 60p per hour and should this car park be full, there is another car park slightly further down (Harbour View Car Park WJ9P+HM) which charges the same fee. There are public toilets here opposite the children's play area.

And finally....... 

Seaham Lighthouse 


Seaham Lighthouse


As someone who grew up in the area my first thought when we parked up was - ‘They're turning the old Barclays Bank into a Fish and Chip joint... When did this happen?!’ ….It was nice to be back though.

The free car park we used is opposite the Costa (SR7 7DR). You can get parked closer but the road down to the pier only has room for 1 car so parking at the top is easier in my opinion.



We walked past the family center towards Seaham Harbour Marina - There's a lush Ice cream place here called ‘Nicey Icey’ that we love coming to when visiting family. We took a left and headed down toward the pier past the Marina Activity Centre (Activity Access - https://adventureaccess.co.uk/ ).

You can hire water sports equipment - Kayaks/ Paddleboards etc They even have a Paddle and Brunch session (Seriously guys why wasn’t this around when I was living there?!) …I will be back!! 

After we found that little gem we continued on towards the pier and found a circuits exercise class running (East Coast Fitness) so naturally, the girls started dancing along to the music (any excuse for a dance party).




When we eventually got them to come away we discovered the pier is actually fenced off for private fishing.

Passed the fence the pier actually has no railings to stop you from falling into the sea, eek! If you want a closer photo of this Lighthouse I’d advise heading down onto the Slope beach next to the pier. This beach gave me yoga idea vibes, imagine doing yoga on that beach with the sunset behind the lighthouse. Maybe pack a yoga mat!
 

There is a toilet in the marina, but it shuts at 5.30 so I think your best bet for after this time is probably the Byron Place shopping center or Asda which is a 2-minute walk from where we parked. 

This lighthouse is only 10 meters tall and I've seen waves taller than it during stormy weather - worth a Google image search!! 

This brings our 12 lighthouses in one day adventure to a close, it is an exhausting day but in the right company, you’re sure to have a great day!




Special shout out to my Adventure Buddy AinĂ© for driving and for helping clean up Aurora’s sick like an absolute pro - at least there was non in your hair this time ey! ….Travel with kids they say, It’ll be fun… they say. 



Happy Adventuring! 


If you're up for another challenge, why not also try our Northumberland Castle Challenge


Visit 12 North East Lighthouses in One Day Challenge

  • Fancy a new challenge? How about visiting 12 North East Lighthouses in one day? 

  • This challenge is suitable for all ages with public toilets and seating along the route. You can expect to walk around 10 miles across the day

  • Mostly pushchair / wheelchair friendly (there are some places you may not be able to access but it's still worth doing)

  • Allow 12 hours with a car (make sure you set off 12 hours before sunset so you don't end the challenge in the dark) 

  • Parking / Tyne Tunnel charges apply 

  • If one day is too much, you could split this into smaller sections and complete across a month / in school holidays. You could also complete this challenge using public transport if you allow more time / do not complete in one day 

  • Plenty of places to stop for food / drinks / activities along route 

  • Post includes a free google map you can download to your phone with all lighthouse locations 

  • You can access the interior of some of the lighthouses and even climb some (full info in post) 
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