Colpitts Hotel, Durham City
This is Steve’s guide to his favourite pubs in Northumbria, that is between the Scottish border and the River Tees (roughly – there are three examples in Teesdale on the other side of the river, but they are in County Durham so that’s OK). They are Ted’s favourite pubs also, though any pub that is open is his favourite.
The main criteria are decent beer (cask ale in Steve’s case) and a welcoming friendly atmosphere rather than food, beer gardens or range of wines and spirits. There is a bias towards town and city pubs, the result of increasingly poor or non-existent evening and Sunday bus services, and the habit of many rural pubs being closed during the day. It means that when we visit country pubs they are often quiet or full of people eating and it isn’t possible to gauge the atmosphere.
The pubs are divided into three categories:
- The Top 20. There are currently 23 pubs in the top 20: I never was good at counting.
- Nearly there pubs are very good also. The reason they are not in the top 20 varies – for some it is too many years since I’ve visited them, some newer or refurbished pubs need another visit, or I’d like to try another time of day or week to make up my mind.
- The Try Also group are decent pubs also….worth dropping in if you are in the area.
The list is organised by county, from North to South (Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham including Darlington and the ex-bits of Cleveland north of the river), and within that alphabetically by place. GBG means they are in the 2021 CAMRA Good Beer Guide. I’ve marked those which we visited in 2017 to 2020.
Lack of travel round the region in 2020 means that there are very few changes to this list, except to update which pubs are in the current Good Beer Guide. We don’t know for definite when pubs will reopen, and a few may never reopen – please check before travelling.
Enjoy safely, as soon as you are allowed to. Steve Gillon, March 2021.
Ship Inn, Low Newton by the Sea
|Allendale Town||Try Also||Golden Lion|
|Allenheads||Nearly there||Allenheads Inn, NE47 9HJ, GBG. Needs a visit – was an excellent pub.|
|Alnmouth||Try Also||Red Lion, GBG. Visited 2019|
|Alnwick||Nearly there||John Bull Inn, 12 Howick St, NE66 1UY, GBG. Interesting beers in excellent condition. Another visit or two and may make the top 20.|
|Alnwick||Try Also||Ale Gate, GBG, micropub. Visited 2019|
|Bamburgh||Try Also||Castle Hotel, visited 2018|
|Beadnell||Try Also||Craster Arms, visited 2017 and 2018|
|Belford||Try Also||Black Swan, visited 2018
Blue Bell, visited 2018
|Berwick Upon Tweed||Nearly there||Pilot, 31 Low Greens, TD15 1LZ, GBG. An excellent traditional boozer.|
|Berwick Upon Tweed||Try Also||Barrels Ale House, GBG
Castle, visited 2020
|Blanchland||Try Also||Lord Crewe Arms, GBG|
|Craster||Try Also||Jolly Fisherman, visited 2018|
|Embleton||TOP 20||Greys Inn, Stanley Terrace, NE66 3UY, GBG. Good beer, coal fires, busy and friendly early doors. Visited 2017 and 2018.|
|Haltwhistle||Try Also||Black Bull, GBG. Visited 2017|
|Hedley on the Hill||Try Also||Feathers|
Tap and Spile. Visited 2017
|Humshaugh||Try Also||Crown Inn, GBG|
The Blue Bell, Belford
|Lindisfarne||Try Also||Ship Inn|
|Low Newton-by-the- Sea||TOP 20||Ship Inn, NE66 3EL, GBG. Tremendous location on village green. Fine beer brewed on site. Can get a bit like a canteen on busy lunchtimes. Visited 2018.|
|Morpeth||TOP 20||Tap and Spile, 23 Manchester St, NE61 1BH. Good local pub, good beer. Lively and friendly.|
|Morpeth||Try Also||Office, GBG. Micropub, visited 2018|
|Netherton||Try Also||Star Inn, NE65 7HD, Was a tremendous pub, isolated miles away from transport when I last visited many years ago. Very limited opening hours and may not sell real ale. Any information appreciated.|
|Newbrough||Try Also||Red Lion|
|Old Hartley||Try Also||Delaval Arms, GBG|
Castle Brew House, Sun Hotel, Warkworth
|Once Brewed||Try Also||Twice Brewed Inn. GBG. On-site brewery and fine beers. Visited 2017, 2019.|
|Rothbury||Try Also||Narrow Nick, GBG. Micropub. Visited 2018.|
|Seahouses||TOP 20||Olde Ship, 7-9 Main St, NE68 7RD, GBG. Hard to beat. Excellent range of beers, friendly, the bar full of nautical bits and pieces is a classic. Eclectic range of customers completes the scene. Visited 2018, 2019,2020.|
|Stamfordham||Try Also||Swinburne Arms|
|Warkworth||Try Also||Castle Brew House (Sun Hotel), visited 2019
Hermitage Inn, visited 2019
Masons Arms, visited 2019
|Wylam||TOP 20||Boathouse Inn, Station Rd, NE41 8HR, GBG. Well worth missing a train for. Get off at Wylam if passing through. Tremendous beers, friendly atmosphere. Visited 2019|
The public bar of the Olde Ship, Seahouses
|TYNE AND WEAR (Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland)|
|Blaydon||Try Also||Black Bull.|
|Felling||Try Also||Old Fox, GBG. Visited 2018
Wheatsheaf, GBG. Visited 2018
|Gateshead||TOP 20||Central, Half Moon Lane, NE8 2AN. Near Tyne Bridge. Excellently refurbished pub. Good beer. Visited 2017, 2018, 2019|
|Gateshead||Try Also||By the River Brewing Co. Poor selection of cask ale and expensive. However, tremendous location by Tyne and Swing Bridges. Visited 2018.
Schooner, South Shore Rd, GBG
Station East, GBG, visited 2017, 2019
|Gosforth||Try Also||County, GBG|
|Low Fell||Try Also||Black Horse.|
|Monkseaton||Nearly there||Left Luggage Room, Monkseaton Metro Station, NE26 3NR. Excellent atmosphere. Visited 2017 & 2018|
|Newburn||TOP 20||Keelman, Grange Road, NE15 8NL, GBG. The pub at the Big Lamp Brewery, lovely spot on edge of Newcastle.|
Tyne Bar, Ouseburn, Newcastle
|Newcastle City Centre||TOP 20||Bacchus, 42-48 High Bridge, NE1 6BX, GBG. Well refurbished pub. Excellent range of real ale and unusual craft bottled and keg beers. Visited 2017, 2018, 2020|
|Newcastle City Centre||TOP 20||Crown Posada, 33 The Side, NE1 3JE. GBG. A gem of a pub. Good beer. Good music from the record player, friendly. The ceiling is a feature. Visited 2018.|
|Newcastle City Centre||TOP 20||Bridge Tavern, 7 Akenside Hill, NE1 3UF. Pub with beer garden directly beneath the Tyne Bridge, with own microbrewery. Visited 2018.|
|Newcastle City Centre||TOP20||Bridge Hotel, Castle Garth, NE1 1RQ. GBG. At North End of the High Level Bridge with excellent views from the beer garden. Well preserved and restored and a wide selection of beers. Visited 2018, 2019|
|Newcastle City Centre||Try Also||Box Social, GBG, micropub in railway arch. Visited 2017 and 2018.
Centurion, Central Stn. Impressive interior. Visited 2017, 2018, 2020.
Duke of Wellington, Visited 2019
Forth. Visited 2017 and 2018
Hotspur. Visited 2017 and 2018
Mean Eyed Cat. GBG.Visited 2018,2020
Old George, visited 2018
Split Chimp. GBG, Visited 2017 & 2018
Strawberry, visited 2018
Telegraph, visited 2018
Town Mouse, GBG. Visited 2017
Town Wall. Visited 2018, 2020.
Trent House, GBG. Visited 2017
Wylam Brewery, Exhibition Park, Limited opening hours. Visited 2017
|Newcastle East End||TOP 20||Free Trade Inn, St Lawrence Rd, NE6 1AP, GBG. Beer as good as ever, as is the jukebox. Unbeatable location overlooking the Tyne. Good atmosphere. Visited 2018.|
|Newcastle East End||Nearly There||Tyne Bar, 1 Maling St, NE6 1LP. By the River Tyne at Ouseburn. Good beer, atmosphere and food. Regular live music. Visited 2018.|
|Newcastle East End||Try Also||Cumberland Arms, Byker, GBG
Ship Inn, Stepney Bank, Byker. visited 2018
Free Trade Inn, Newcastle upon Tyne
|North Shields||Nearly There||Low Lights Tavern, Brewhouse Bank, NE30 1LL. Close to the Fish Quay, a traditional, friendly several-roomed pub.|
|North Shields||Try Also||Magnesia Bank
Prince of Wales, Fish Quay
|South Gosforth||Nearly There||Brandling Villa Haddricks Mill Rd, NE3 1QL. Excellent pub.|
|South Gosforth||Try Also||Millstone, GBG.|
|South Shields||TOP 20||Alum Ale House, Ferry St, NE33 1JR, GBG. Eight handpumps – ideal place to miss a ferry or six. Visited 2017.|
|South Shields||Nearly There||Steamboat, Mill Dam, NE33 1EQ, GBG.
Excellent selection of beers.
|South Shields||Try Also||Stags Head|
|Sunderland||Nearly There||Ivy House, Ashbrooke, SR2 7AW, GBG. Close to Park Lane bus and metro station, good beers and pizzas. Visited 2018|
|Sunderland||Try Also||Dun Cow. GBG
Harbour View, Roker, GBG, Visited 2018.
Kings Arms, Deptford
Peacock. Visited 2018
Ship Isis, GBG, Visited 2018
Museum Vaults, GBG
|Swalwell||Try Also||Sun Inn, GBG|
|Tynemouth||TOP 20||Tynemouth Lodge, Tynemouth Road, NE30 4AA, GBG. Good boozer. Little has changed in many years.|
|Tynemouth||Try Also||Copperfields. Visited 2018
Platform Two. Tynemouth Metro. Visited 2019
Turks Head. Visited 2017 and 2018
|West Herrington||Try Also||Stables|
|Whitburn||Try Also||Jolly Sailor Visited 2018|
|Whitley Bay||Try Also||Dog and Rabbit, GBG. Micropub. Visited 2017
Storm Cellar. Micropub. Visited 2019
The Bridge Hotel and inside the Crown Posada, Newcastle
|COUNTY DURHAM (and Darlington)|
|Barnard Castle||Try Also||Old Well Inn, GBG, visited 2020.|
|Beamish Hall||Try Also||Stables|
|Beamish Museum||Try Also||Sun Inn. Museum opening hours.|
|Bishop Auckland||Nearly there||Welcome, Low Waldron St, DL14 7DS. GBG. Friendly back street local close to town centre. Visited 2018|
|Try Also||Bay Horse, GBG. Visited 2018|
|Bishop Middleham||Try Also||Cross Keys, GBG|
|Chester le Street||Nearly there||Smiths Arms, Forge Lane, Castle Dene, DH3 4HE. Traditional pub, outside of town. Visited 2019|
|Chester le Street||Try Also||Butchers Arms, GBG|
|Coatham Mundeville||Try Also||Foresters Arms|
|Consett||TOP 20||Grey Horse, 115 Sherburn Terrace, DH8 6NE, GBG. Friendly local pub, home of the Consett Ale Works Brewery…so a fine pint also.|
|Cotherstone||Nearly There||Red Lion, Main St, DL12 9QE, GBG Old stone pub, unchanged for 50 years.
Beer, conversation and that’s it.
|Cowshill||Nearly there||Cowshill Hotel. DL13 1JQ. Smashing unspoilt pub in upper Weardale. Opening evenings plus Sunday lunchtime. Difficult to reach by public transport.|
|Darlington||TOP 20||Number Twenty 2, 22 Coniscliffe Rd, DL3 7RG, GBG. For a modern pub its excellent with a great range of beers.
Visited 2019, 2020.
|Darlington||Nearly there||Quakerhouse, 2 Mechanics Yard, DL3 7QF, GBG. Fine pub with 10 well-kept real ales. Friendly. Visited 2018.|
|Darlington||Try Also||Britannia. GBG. Visited 2018
Darlington Snooker Club. CAMRA members welcome, visited 2019
Glittering Star, visited 2019
Half Moon, GBG, visited 2018, 2019
ORB Micropub, GBG, visited 2019
|Durham City||TOP 20||Colpitts Hotel, Colpitts Terrace, DH1 4EL. GBG. Traditional Sam Smiths boozer, sympathetically refurbished, full of character (and characters). Excellent landlord (I’ll have a pint, Simon). Visited 2017, 18, 19, 20.
Visited 2017 and 2018.
|Durham City||TOP 20||Old Elm Tree, 12 Crossgate, DH1 4PS. Good beer, friendly local pub, well looked after. Visited 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.|
|Durham City||TOP 20||Victoria, 86 Hallgarth St, DH1 3AS, GBG. Historic pub, with all the plus points – good beer, friendly atmosphere and coal fire. Visited 2017, 2018 & 2019|
|Durham City||Nearly there||Station House, North Road, DH1 4SE, GBG. Micro-pub with quality beer straight from cask. Excellent reputation for cider. Visited 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020.|
|Durham City||Try Also
|Dun Cow, GBG Visited 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020.
Half Moon, GBG, visited 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020.
Head of Steam, visited 2017,
2018, 2019, 2020
Hill Island Brewery, Opens only occasionally. Visited 2017 & 2018.
Holy GrAle, micropub, visited2019
Shakespeare, visited 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
Waiting Room, GBG, on station platform. Visited 2018, 2019, 2020
Ted has a session in the Colpitts, Durham City
|Eggleston||Try Also||Three Tuns Inn|
|Esh||Try Also||Cross Keys|
|Ferryhill Station||Try Also||Surtees Arms, Chilton Lane, GBG.|
|Framwellgate Moor||TOP 20||Tap and Spile, Front St, DH1 5EE, GBG. Busy local pub. 7 real ales usually on tap and well kept. And a choice of nuts (that’s not the staff or the punters). Visited 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020. Seeking new tenant.|
|Framwellgate Moor||Try Also||Fram Ferment, new micropub, visited 2019, 2020.|
|Frosterley||Try Also||Black Bull|
|Heighington||Try Also||Bay Horse|
|High Hesleden||Try Also||Ship Inn, GBG, limited hours|
|Holwick||Nearly There||Strathmore Arms, Holwick, DL12 0NJ. Isolated pub in Upper Teesdale with good beer and food and open fire.|
|Langdon Beck||Try Also||Langdon Beck Hotel|
|Leamside||Nearly there||Three Horse Shoes, Pit House Lane, DH4 6QQ, GBG. Despite stress on food has retained the traditional bar with a fine selection of beer.|
|Middlestone Village||Nearly there||Ship Inn, Low Road, DL14 8AB, GBG Was an excellent village pub – just haven’t visited for a good few years.|
|No Place||Try Also||Beamish Mary, GBG, visited 2019|
|Romaldkirk||Try Also||Rose and Crown|
|Rookhope||Try Also||Rookhope Inn|
|Seaham||Try Also||Coalface, micropub, visited 2019
Coalhouse, GBG, micro, visited 2019
|Shincliffe Village||Try Also||Rose Tree, visited 2019
Seven Stars, visited 2019
|Stanhope||Try Also||Grey Bull, GBG|
|St John’s Chapel||Nearly there||Blue Bell, Hood St, DL13 1QJ, GBG. Friendly village local. Visited 2018|
|Westgate||Try Also||Hare and Hounds, GBG. Visited 2018|
|Witton Gilbert||Nearly there||Glendenning Arms, Front St, DH7 6SY. A traditional village local and that’s its strength.|
|Wolsingham||Nearly There||Black Lion, 21 Meadhope St, DL13 3EN, GBG. Hidden in a back street, friendly pub with good beer and cider.|
|Wolsingham||Try Also||Black Bull|
The Smiths Arms, Castle Dene, near Chester-le-Street
|TEESSIDE (NORTH), (Hartlepool and Stockton)|
|Bishopton||Try Also||Blue Bell|
|Hartlepool||TOP 20||Causeway, Vicarage Gdns, Stranton, TS24 7QT. Behind the Camerons brewery , and sells a proper pint of Strongarm with a Teesside head.|
|Hartlepool||TOP 20||Rat Race, Platform 1, Hartlepool Station, TS24 7ED, GBG. Micropub, serving a few beers excellently.|
|Hartlepool||Try Also||Globe, Hartlepool Headland, GBG|
|Stockton||TOP 20||Sun Inn, Knowles St, TS18 1SU. A proper boozer despite refurbishment, mainly full of blokes following the racing. Still the best pint of Bass in existence. Visited 2017 and 2018.|
|Stockton||Try Also||Golden Smog. GBG. Micropub. Visited 2017.|
The Olde Ship, Seahouses
© Copyright, Steve Gillon 2021