Colpitts Hotel, Durham City
This is Steve’s guide to his favourite pubs in Northumbria. 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.
The pubs are divided into three categories:
- The Top 20. There are currently 21 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 we’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 2022 CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Pubs which we haven’t visited for more than five years are now excluded and each entry notes the most recent year we visited.
Steve Gillon, January 2022.
Ship Inn, Low Newton by the Sea
|Alnmouth||Try Also||Red Lion, GBG. 2019|
|Alnwick||Try Also||Ale Gate, GBG, micropub. 2019|
|Bamburgh||Try Also||Castle Hotel, 2018|
|Beadnell||Try Also||Craster Arms, GBG, 2021|
|Belford||Try Also||Black Swan, 2018
Blue Bell, 2018
|Berwick Upon Tweed||TOP 20||Pilot, 31 Low Greens, TD15 1LZ, GBG. An excellent traditional boozer. 2021|
|Berwick Upon Tweed||Try Also||Castle, 2021
Curfew, GBG, 2021
The Blue Bell, Belford
|Craster||Try Also||Jolly Fisherman, 2018|
|Embleton||TOP 20||Greys Inn, Stanley Terrace, NE66 3UY, GBG. Good beer, coal fires, busy and friendly early doors. 2018.|
|Haltwhistle||Try Also||Black Bull, 2017|
|Hexham||Try Also||Tap and Spile. 2017|
|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. 2018.|
|Morpeth||Try Also||Office, GBG, Micropub, 2018|
Castle Brew House, Sun Hotel, Warkworth
|Once Brewed||Try Also||Twice Brewed Inn. GBG. On-site brewery and fine beers. 2019.|
|Rothbury||Try Also||Narrow Nick, GBG. Micropub. 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. 2021.|
|Warkworth||Try Also||Castle Brew House (Sun Hotel), 2019
Hermitage Inn, 2019
Masons Arms, 2019
|Wylam||TOP 20||Boathouse Inn, GBG, Station Rd, NE41 8HR. Well worth missing a train for. Get off at Wylam if passing through. Tremendous beers, friendly atmosphere. 2019|
The public bar of the Olde Ship, Seahouses
|TYNE AND WEAR (Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland)|
|Birtley||Try Also||Railway, 2021|
|Felling||Try Also||Old Fox, GBG. 2018
Wheatsheaf, GBG. 2018
|Gateshead||TOP 20||Central, Half Moon Lane, NE8 2AN. Near Tyne Bridge. Excellently refurbished pub. Good beer. GBG, 2019|
|Gateshead||Try Also||By the River Brewing Co. No cask ale and expensive. Included here due to tremendous location by Tyne and Swing Bridges. 2018.
Station East, Closed but due to reopen early 2022, GBG, 2019
|Jarrow||Try Also||Albion, GBG, 2021|
|Monkseaton||Nearly there||Left Luggage Room, Monkseaton Metro Station, NE26 3NR. GBG. Excellent atmosphere. 2018|
Tyne Bar, Ouseburn, Newcastle
|Newcastle City Centre||TOP 20||Bacchus, 42-48 High Bridge, NE1 6BX. Well refurbished pub. Excellent range of real ale and unusual craft bottled and keg beers. 2020|
|Newcastle City Centre||TOP 20||Crown Posada, 33 The Side, NE1 3JE. A gem of a pub. Good beer. Good music from the record player, friendly. The ceiling is a feature. Has now reopened after long closure.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. 2021.|
|Newcastle City Centre||TOP20||Bridge Hotel, Castle Garth, NE1 1R. 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. 2021|
|Newcastle City Centre||Try Also||Centurion, Central Stn. Impressive interior. 2021.
Duke of Wellington, 2021
Mean Eyed Cat. GBG. 2020
Old George, 2018
Split Chimp. GBG, 2018
Strawberry, GBG, 2018
Town Mouse, GBG. 2017
Town Wall. 2020.
Trent House, 2017
Wobbly Duck, 2021
Wylam Brewery, Exhibition Park, Limited opening hours. 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. 2021.|
|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. 2018.|
|Newcastle East End||Try Also||Ship Inn, Stepney Bank, Byker. 2018|
Free Trade Inn, Newcastle upon Tyne
|South Shields||TOP 20||Alum Ale House, Ferry St, NE33 1JR. Eight handpumps – ideal place to miss a ferry or six. 2021.|
|South Shields||Nearly There||Marine, 230 Ocean Road, NE33 2JQ, GBG, 2021. Plenty of decent beers, close to the sea front.|
|Sunderland||Nearly There||Ivy House, Ashbrooke, SR2 7AW, GBG. Close to Park Lane bus and metro station, good beers and pizzas. 2018|
|Sunderland||Try Also||Harbour View, Roker, GBG, 2018.Peacock. 2018
Ship Isis, GBG, 2018
|Tynemouth||Try Also||Copperfields. 2018
Platform 2. Tynemouth Metro. 2019
Turks Head. 2018
|Whitburn||Try Also||Jolly Sailor 2018|
|Whitley Bay||Try Also||Dog and Rabbit, GBG. Micropub. 2017|
The Bridge Hotel and inside the Crown Posada, Newcastle
|COUNTY DURHAM (and Darlington)|
|Barnard Castle||Try Also||Old Well Inn, GBG, 2020.|
|Bishop Auckland||TOP 20||Welcome, Low Waldron St, DL14 7DS. GBG. Friendly back street local close to town centre. 2021|
|Try Also||Bay Horse, GBG. 2018
Green Tree, 2021
|Blackhill||Try Also||Scotch Arms, GBG, 2021|
|Chester le Street||Nearly There||Butchers Arms, Middle Chare, DH3 3QD, GBG, Fine traditional pub, 2021|
|Chester le Street||Try Also||Lambton Worm, 2021|
|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. 2021.|
|Darlington||TOP 20||Number Twenty 2, 22 Coniscliffe Rd, DL3 7RG, GBG. For a modern pub its excellent with a great range of beers. 2021.|
|Darlington||Nearly there||Quakerhouse, 2 Mechanics Yard, DL3 7QF, GBG. Fine pub with well-kept real ales. Friendly. 2018.|
|Darlington||Try Also||Britannia. GBG. 2018
Darlington Snooker Club. CAMRA members welcome, GBG, 2019
Half Moon, GBG, 2019
ORB Micropub, GBG, 2019
Sunset at the Colpitts
|Durham City||TOP 20||Colpitts Hotel, Colpitts Terrace, DH1 4EL. GBG. Traditional Sam Smiths boozer, sympathetically refurbished, full of character (and characters). Good landlords (I’ll have a pint). 2021.|
|Durham City||TOP 20||Old Elm Tree, 12 Crossgate, DH1 4PS. GBG. Good beer, friendly local pub, well looked after. 2021.|
|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. 2021.|
|Durham City||TOP 20||Station House, North Road, DH1 4SE, GBG. Micro-pub with quality beer which has developed into a fine local. Excellent reputation for cider. 2021.|
|Durham City||Nearly There||Holy GrAle, 57 Crossgate, DH1 4PR, micropub which has become a good local boozer. Limited cask choice but large craft selection, 2021.|
|Durham City||Try Also
|Dun Cow, GBG, 2021.
Half Moon, GBG, 2021.
Head of Steam, GBG, 2021.
Hill Island Brewery, Opens only occasionally. 2021.
Waiting Room, GBG, on station platform. 2021.
Ted has a session in the Colpitts, Durham City
|Framwellgate Moor||Nearly There||Fram Ferment, 29B Front St, DH1 5EE, micropub and bottle shop with good selection of beer and cider., GBG, 2021.|
|Framwellgate Moor||Try Also||Queens Head, Front St, DH1 5EE. Formerly the Top 20 Tap and Spile. Newly refurbished, under new management. .|
|Lanchester||Try Also||Crinnions, 2021|
|Middlestone Village||TOP 20||Ship Inn, Low Road, DL14 8AB, GBG Was an excellent village pub – and a recent visit confirms that it still is. 2021|
|No Place||Try Also||Beamish Mary, GBG, 2019|
|Seaham||Try Also||Coalhouse, GBG, micropub, 2019|
|Shincliffe Village||Try Also||Rose Tree, 2019
Seven Stars, Recently reopened under new management.2019
|Spennymoor||Try Also||Frog and Ferret, GBG, 2021|
The Frog and Ferret, Spennymoor
|St John’s Chapel||Nearly There||Blue Bell, Hood St, DL13 1QJ, GBG. Friendly village local. 2018|
|West Cornforth||Try Also||Square and Compass, GBG, 2021|
|Westgate||Try Also||Hare and Hounds, GBG. 2018|
The Square and Compass, West Cornforth
|TEESSIDE (NORTH), (Hartlepool and Stockton)|
|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. 2021.|
|Nearly There||Golden Smog. 1 Hambletonian Yard, TS18 1DS, GBG. Friendly micropub. 2021.|
A couple of notes:
We’ve lost five of the previous Top 20, due to the five-year rule, and we intend to visit the Tap and Spile, Morpeth, the Keelman, Newburn, the Tynemouth Lodge, Tynemouth and the Causeway and Rat Race, Hartlepool during 2022, to see if they can be re-installed to their position.
There is a general bias in this list towards town and city pubs, the result of increasingly poor or non-existent evening and Sunday rural bus services, and the habit of many pubs being closed during the day. When we do visit country pubs they can be quiet or more like restaurants, and it isn’t possible to gauge the atmosphere.
The Olde Ship, Seahouses
© Text and photos Copyright, Steve Gillon 2022