Tynemouth: ‘The surfing epicentre of the north east’

When Covid-19 restrictions were announced, our physical and social communities shrank. During uncertain times, we’re forced to look around and ask ourselves: ‘Who, where and what do we cherish?' Over the next few months, we'll be hearing from our selfless lifesavers about the places they treasure – today we’re talking about Tynemouth.

Please take care by following official government guidance and remember to check our water safety tips before heading to the coast. 

A surfer wearing a wetsuit, riding the waves

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Explore the shore

Nestled between North Shields and Cullercoats, Tynemouth is bursting at the seams with golden beaches. Longsands, Whitley Bay and King Edward’s Bay each offer something for confident kayakers and coffee connoisseurs alike.

Stretching for over a mile, Longsands is one of 11 RNLI lifeguarded beaches in north-east England, patrolled from the end of May until September. This soft-sand haven is a second home to water lovers – from kayakers and paddleboarders to surfers and sailors – thanks to its flat sands and easy access to the wild waves.

Along the shore, there’s a perfect row of beach-lined restaurants. The head chef at The View, at the south end of Longsands Beach, is crew at Tynemouth Lifeboat Station and names one of his dishes after the all-weather lifeboat, Spirit of Northumberland. The panoramic views are almost as delectable.

A smaller sheltered beach, King Edward’s Bay is protected by Tynemouth Priory and Castle above, and framed by craggy and verdant cliffs on either side. From here you can access the cave – and legend – known as Jingling Geordie’s Hole. Jingling Geordie is believed to have been a 17th-century pirate and smuggler, shackled to rattling chains, who used the cave as a lookout for incoming ships.

Walkers should make the most of the picturesque 2-mile route beginning at Longsands Beach. It passes Cullercoats Bay and lifeboat station, the full-length of Whitley Bay and finishes at St Mary’s Island – adorned with a white-washed lighthouse.

Tynemouth's all-weather lifeboat, Spirit of Northumberland

Photo: RNLI/Adrian Don

Tynemouth's all-weather lifeboat, Spirit of Northumberland

Surf the waves

Tynemouth is famed as one of the UK’s finest surf spots. There’s an infectious buzz down by the water and, as RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor (and avid surfer) Sandy Kerr observes: ‘Surfing here is the epicentre of the north east. Most of the lifeguards are surfers themselves, so ask them any questions.’

The RNLI lifeguards at Longsands Beach and King Edward’s Bay offer families and beachgoers a wealth of local knowledge – such as the state of the tides and the best time of day for optimal surfing conditions.

There are two popular surf schools on Longsands Beach: Tynemouth Surf Co and Longsands Surf School. At the north end, you’ll find Tynemouth Surf Cafe –the town’s long-established surf shop and eatery. It’s been running for almost 20 years and is the perfect spot to watch the action from ashore or pick up some new gear.

Tynemouth's coastal path

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Tynemouth coastal path

Sail the coastline

You’ll find fewer picturesque places to sail in the UK with Tynemouth’s exciting extremes of weather and wind conditions. Keen sailor and Tynemouth Crew Member Poppy Fenwick says: ‘It’s great for racing here, because you can get absolutely nothing from the weather and then absolutely everything!’

Rich in history, the Tyne Estuary was used for the (Firefly) elimination trials of the Olympic Games in 1948 – the boats made sail from the same quay that Tynemouth lifeboat is housed at today.

Tynemouth Sailing Club is the most prominent and popular sailing club facing the ocean, where members can gain all necessary qualifications to become a commercial sailor. But head inland and you’ll find hidden pearls all along the River Tyne, such as Ocean Youth Trust North – a club aimed at young people aged 12–25. It’s the ideal spot for learning how to sail in the comfort of a quiet marina.

Longsands beach provides easy access to the waves for watersports enthusiasts

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Longsands beach provides easy access to the waves for watersports enthusiasts

Ready for summer

We’re all excited for summer – but, with so many of us seeking coastal escapes, RNLI volunteers are expecting our busiest summer season yet. With a small donation, you can prepare your lifesavers with the kit, training and equipment they need to be ready for any emergency, all summer long. And you’ll be a lifesaver, too.