Thousands of students are arriving in the North East for the first time for the start of freshers’ weeks at the region’s universities.
But there is a wealth of other sites and pastimes which they should experience during their time here. Here is just a selection.
1 ENJOY OUR GLORIOUS BEACHES:
From Northumberland to Teesside, the North East boasts some of the country’s finest beaches.
You shouldn’t just take our word for it - even Hollywood film makers chose the scenic sands at Northumberland’s Bamburgh Castle as the location for their new Transformers 5 movie.
Don’t worry either if you are stuck inland at Durham University. The 20, 20A and X20 buses to Sunderland and South Shields will have you sniffing sea air within the hour.
2 BE DAZZLED BY SUNDERLAND ILLUMINATIONS:
There’s still plenty to enjoy down by the beach even though the longer nights and colder weather are on their way.
Sunderland’s annual illuminations, which last year attracted 300,000 people, were launched earlier this week with spectacular light displays in Roker Park, Cliffe Park and on the sea front.
They are on every night from 5pm-10pm until Saturday, November 5, with entry into Roker Park costing £1.
3 MAKE A MEAL OF OUR FISH AND CHIPS:
Most of us love a good chippy and we certainly have plenty to choose from along the North East coast.
So many, in fact, that any shortlist here would fail to do the region’s reputation justice.
Let’s just say that those of you who normally live well inland are in for a fresh treat as some shops serve up fish within an hour of it arriving back from the North Sea.
We’ll let you do the detective work to solve this fishy mystery to your stomach’s content.
4 TREK THROUGH OUR WONDERFUL COUNTRYSIDE:
Need a decent walk to burn off those fish and chips or Saturday nights out? Well, you are spoilt for choice here in the North East.
Take your pick from Druridge Bay Country Park, near Amble, Castle Eden Dene, near Peterlee, the Hart to Haswell Walkway, stretching from the edge of Hartlepool into East Durham, and Herrington Country Park, in the shadow of imposing Penshaw Monument, near Sunderland.
5 COMPLETE THE GREAT NORTH RUN:
If a brisk stroll doesn’t kill enough calories for you then how about tackling one of the world’s greateset half-marathons?
The 13.1-mile course crosses Newcastle and Gateshead’s iconic Tyne Bridge a mile in before finishing on South Shields’s stunning coast.
As well as deriving personal satisfaction, there’s also the prospect of raising vital cash for a good cause.
With demand for places usually outstripping supply, running on behalf of a charity is often the easiest way of securing your maiden entry.
6 CONQUER ONE OF OUR MANY LANDMARKS FOR CHARITY:
Fundraising certainly ticks one box on your CV when you start looking for jobs once you graduate.
But if the Great North Run is not for you - and you can usually use the excuse that it takes place outside of term-time - then how about a far quicker challenge?
A host of professionally-organised abseils or zip-wire descents take place at locations such as Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge or the Tyne Bridge.
Climbing Rocks, for instance, charge £30-£45 on Sunday, October 23, for its two-minute harnessed drop down 164ft of the Transporter Bridge.
7 WATCH OUR FOOTBALL TEAMS:
It would be sacrilege if we didn’t mention our professional sides at some point in this guide.
We have Premier League football from £19 at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light or £27 at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.
Tickets for cup ties at Newcastle United also start from £10 for the best seats. Just don’t leave it too late - the Magpies are rarely in any competition for long|
Don’t forget Hartlepool United down in League Two either. Student prices begin from £9 with a return Grand Central rail ticket between Sunderland-Hartlepool costing only £3.65.
8 VISIT DURHAM CATHEDRAL:
Picture any TV footage about the North-East and the first image which usually appears is the magnificent splendour of Durham Cathedral.
While entry to the 930-year-old premises is free, a £3 donation is encouraged with guided tours costing £4.50.
All still a bargain when you consider you can also enjoy the beautiful city of Durham itself and its riverside walks.
If you are studying in Newcastle then rail journeys take just over 10 minutes.
9 EXPLORE HARRY POTTER’S CASTLE:
Today’s teenage freshers won’t remember a time before author JK Rowling’s famous bespectacled creation.
So why not relive your youth by making a pilrgimage to the original Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at Alnwick Castle.
If you haven’t brought your Nimbus 2000 broomstick with to your student halls then it’s train from Durham or Newcastle to Alnmouth before a bus or taxi for the remaining five miles.
Concessionary tickets purchased in advance cost £11.25p.
A costly day, perhaps, but a wizard one all the same.
10 DRINK OUR BEER:
Okay, we give in right at the death. Most students like the odd beer or five.
But merely restricting yourself to swigging the occasional bottle of Newky Brown means you are missing out of a growing number of craft ales brewed here.
Why not seek out Sunderland’s reborn Double Maxim, now made just inside the city’s boundaries at Rainton Bridge, the Sonnet collection of beers bottled at Coxhoe, near Durham City, or Bishop Auckland’s Black Paw range?
You’ll be amazed too where to find some of these local liquids - even branches of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill are stocking them.
Concessionary prices alas do not apply.