Culture: Illuminating tour of the Tyne

The cold may have taken the shine off her nighttime neon kayaking trip but layer up and you’re in for a real treat this winter, says Alison Cowie

If you’re looking for a different experience this festive season, then NE1 and Cullercoats Bike and Kayaking have teamed up to offer nighttime neon kayaking tours of the Tyne.

I was invited along to try the new seasonal trip and brought along my colleague who had enjoyed a similar kayaking trip in the summer.

Our evening began with a glass of mulled cider at the Head of Steam on Newcastle Quayside after which we were each given a waterproof jacket and trousers, helmet (complete with flashing blue light) and buoyancy aid to put on.

We made your way down to Newcastle City Marina where our fleet of glowing kayaks – festooned in LED lighting – were waiting.

After a safety briefing and crash course on paddling techniques, we were on the Tyne.

Despite the party season in full flow on the Quayside, being out on the river was a remarkably tranquil experience.

The tours last around two hours and the route depends on the tides and water flow.

From the marina, we paddled to the Millennium Bridge, which was bathed in a gorgeous multi-coloured glow. We then headed up the river towards the High Level Bridge – all the while our professional guides ‘illuminated’ us about the historic landmarks we passed.

With a maximum of ten kayaks per trip, we were given plenty of time to enjoy the unique experience views and, despite being on a small craft in the middle of a river at night, I never felt unsafe.

The only downside was – you’ve guessed it – the cold. Unlike my colleague who wore a hoodie and a mountaineering jacket under her waterproof jacket, I had opted for a base layer and a long-sleeved gym top. I wrongly assumed the paddling would keep me warm but the leisurely pace didn’t guard me against the freezing temperatures. Admittedly, this did take the shine off the neon kayaking experience for me. But as they say, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’, so wrap up better than I did – lots of warm layers and gloves (ideally waterproof ones) – and you’ll love this unique winter adventure.

The neon kayaking tours will set off between 3.30-6.30pm and will run to mid-January 2020.For more information and to book – visit: