100 Reasons Why It's Great Up North - 2004

The Great North Forest, Hadrian's Wall and Newcastle's Grey Street, all featured in the 2004 list.

1) Driving the 43 twisting miles of the A686 from Hexham to Penrith - one of the AA's top ten drives in the world.

2) Shopping at the 14 store branches in Sunderland's Bridges mall which are in the top ten for sales in their chains.

3) Flying direct to 12 European capitals from Newcastle International Airport.

Newcastle Airport
Newcastle Airport

4) When you can also catch a Metro direct to the beach.

5) Learning more with the 23m people who use the North's museums and libraries every year - as many as shop at the MetroCentre.

6) Planting two million trees in the Great North Forest since 1990 - a vast network of woods and trails from Stanley and Chester-le-Street through Washington to the coast at Whitburn.

7) Watching the New Year fancy dress blazing tar barrel parade at Allendale, south of Hexham.

8) Stepping out in Newcastle's Grey Street - John Dobson's masterpiece was voted the best street in Britain by the Commission for the Built Environment, and Radio Four listeners.

Grey Street in Newcastle on a damp night
Grey Street in Newcastle on a damp night

9) Building for the future - a £21m Biofuels plant at Seal Sands will be a world-leader, producing greener fuels from rape seed, palm and soya by next year - creating 275 jobs in the process.

10) Feeding red squirrels in the trees - we are the last region in England where these native creatures have a stronghold in the wild.

11) Hanging pictures - people spend more on art for their home per head of population than anywhere else in the UK.

12) Shopping at MetroCentre. Once again the biggest in Europe when the Red Mall extension opens in October.

13) Because our rush hours only last an hour - if that.

14) Smashing the glass ceiling - Durham University's business support group for women is rated among the best in Europe for promoting female entrepreneurs.

15) Revelling in the fact Newcastle-Gateshead has been voted best British city break destination for the last three years running.

Newcastle Quayside
Newcastle Quayside

16) Lapping up luxury - the region's first Bentley showroom sold its first year's target for the luxury cars within a week of opening.

17) Enjoying the ice cream served at the Crescent Café, Seaton Delaval.

18) Admiring the view from the train as it enters Durham station - across to the castle and cathedral World Heritage Site.

19) Our accents.

20) Marching along Hadrian's Wall to the stunning cliffs above Steel Rigg lake - 2,000 years on.

Hadrians Wall at sunrise
Hadrians Wall at sunrise

21) Enjoying the silence on the most car-free road in England - up College Valley in the Cheviots where only 12 vehicles a day are allowed in by permit.

22) Chilling out in Sunderland - named among the coolest places in Britain by rock magazine New Musical Express.

23) While the city is also one of the world's seven most IT-intelligent communities.

24) Connecting every community to broadband by spring next year - the only English region with broadband in every telephone exchange.

25) Producing every last Rolo in the world at a factory in Fawdon, Newcastle.

26) We're 300 miles from London.

27) Tuning in to Cramlington-raised comedian Ross Noble, and Sunderland-born DJ and ex-Kenickie singer Lauren Laverne - rising stars brimming with Northern attitude.

28) Hearing Andean pipe band Apu's music echo round the Monument in Newcastle on a sunny afternoon.

29) Setting up home in the most affordable houses and flats in England, despite the recent surge in property prices.

Generic Pic of houses in Gateshead
Generic Pic of houses in Gateshead

30) Meeting friends for a night out at bar-restaurant The Apartment in Newcastle - this year named the best in Britain.

31) Cheering on Middlesbrough, who hold the Carling Cup, and the Newcastle Falcons who hold rugby's Powergen Cup.

32) Staying put - with seven out of ten Northumbria University graduates choosing to remain in the region to forge a career.

33) Sailing with Ovington Boats, the world's leading maker of racing dinghies - winning gold in Athens with craft built in converted garages in North Shields.

34) Having the only county in England with its own tartan - Northumberland's black and white check, known as the Shepherd Tartan.

35) Dodging the rain at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens - officially the best large visitor attraction outside London according to the Excellence in England awards.

36) Supping on Newcastle Brown Ale - the number one imported beer in the United States, and sold in 40 other countries besides.

Newcastle Brown Ale
Newcastle Brown Ale

37) Wearing designer labels - Newcastle store Cruise sells more Gucci clothes than any other UK outlet.

38) Smoking kippers in Craster. 39) Saving young lives - Professor Sir Alan Craft, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics; a Newcastle graduate still working in the region who has transformed the lives of countless children.

40) Seeing red kites soar over suburban Gateshead - after the majestic birds of prey were re-introduced earlier this year.

41) Exploring the labyrinth at Cragside, the only maze in the country you really can get lost in.

42) Washing with the 200,000,000,000 litres of water in Kielder - Europe's largest man-made lake - means we, at least, will never suffer a hosepipe ban.

43) Learning at Delaval Community Primary, Newcastle, and Riverside Primary, North Shields - schools in deprived areas topping national tables for improving the performance of pupils.

44) Watching 50,000 people cross the Tyne in the Great North Run - the world's biggest half-marathon.

The BUPA Great North Run
The BUPA Great North Run

45) Pampering yourself at the luxury spa hotels of Matfen Hall or Seaham Hall - both recognised as among the best in the country.

46) Remembering Bob Stokoe's mad dash across the Wembley turf.

47) Angling on rivers from the Tweed to the Tyne, the latter transformed from an open sewer to be named the best river to rod catch salmon in Britain.

48) Opening night at Sage Gateshead, this December. The concert hall will complete a £250m investment in new arts and cultural venues in just five years.

The SAGE building on Gateshead Quayside
The SAGE building on Gateshead Quayside

49) Striding out along the ridge of the Cleveland Hills towards Roseberry Topping.

50) Riding the 'Curry Train' from Newcastle for an Indian meal in Corbridge.

51) Reading Britain's brightest and most thought-provoking morning paper - The Journal.

52) Winning - with more Lottery jackpots than anywhere else in Britain. Newcastle folk alone scooped £38.8m last year.

53) Surfing at the premier British Cup competition, staged at Tynemouth for the last two years - the home of British champion Sam Lamiroy.

54) Diving off the North Sea coast - a magnet for people who want to explore the dozens of wrecks in the shallow waters.

South Shields Beach
South Shields Beach

55) Taking wickets - Ashington's Steve Harmison, officially the best fast- bowler in the world, plays at Chester-le-Street's Riverside, the country's only new Test cricket ground in 101 years.

56) Sitting down at a Quayside restaurant table to find the Gateshead Millennium Bridge has turned a different colour when you leave.

57) Catching a movie at Tyneside Cinema - a bastion of independent film-making against the Hollywood blockbuster onslaught.

58) Eating stotties filled with ham and pease pudding.

59) Breathing in the sea air on the walk along the Northumberland coast to Dunstanburgh Castle.

60) Sipping bubbly in the Champagne capital of Britain - we each spend an average £68 per year, compared to just £36 in London.

61) Closing deals in Tyneside and Sunderland - both listed among the top five best places in Britain to do business.

62) Boasting of Newcastle being branded by The Times as being `the new capital of Britain'.

63) Supporting the only football club in the world Alan Shearer wants to play for.

Alan Shearer, Toon v Chelsea
Alan Shearer, Toon v Chelsea

64) Lighting up Mosley Street in Newcastle - the first street in the world lit by electricity, thanks to North inventor Joseph Swan.

65) Worshipping at the twin churches of St Paul's Jarrow and St Peter's Bishopwearmouth - home to the author of the first history of England, the Venerable Bede.

66) Smelling the flowers at Alnwick Garden, which boasts 65,000 individual plants from all over the world - and attracted half a million visitors last year.

67) Theatre-going at the only city outside Stratford-upon-Avon that the Royal Shakespeare Company calls `home'.

68) Alnwick - voted Britain's best town to live in, by Country Life magazine readers.

69) Voting in the only English region with the confidence to push for regional government this year.

70) Bathing at any one of the 18 `blue flag' beaches stretching down the North Sea coast - with hardly a soul in sight!

71) Giving the world the railways - celebrated by the opening this month of the National Railway Museum extension in Shildon.

72) Passing the Angel of the North on the A1 - a sight seen by 33m people every year.

The Angel of the North
The Angel of the North

73) Grazing cattle on Newcastle's Town Moor - 400 hectares protected as an urban open space since the 13th Century.

74) Choosing a gift to take home from The Biscuit Factory, the largest commercial art space in Europe.

75) Racing for the front seat on a Tyne and Wear Metro train - right up there next to the driver.

76) Investing with the 75 agencies we have solely dedicated to helping people set up their own businesses.

77) Baking bread - Longhorsley grocer Thomas Bell gave the world self-raising flour.

78) Admiring Berwick's mighty Elizabethan fortress - useful as the border town prides its independence and is still officially at war with Russia.

79) Computing with software firm Sage, the only technology firm in the FTSE 100 Index of the UK's biggest companies.

Graham Wylie, founder of Sage
Graham Wylie, founder of Sage

80) Dressing up for Newcastle Racecourse's Plate Day meeting - a three-day summer festival again, from this year.

81) Playing the Driver computer games designed by Tyneside firm Reflections - so far sold to 10 million customers worldwide.

82) Jonny Wilkinson's golden boots.

83) Harnessing the power of the sun -- Romag in Consett this year opened the largest factory in the world producing photovoltaic `solar' panels for buildings.

84) Watching seals play around your boat on a trip from Seahouses to the Farne Islands.

85) Pushing the boundaries of science at The Centre for Life - from building site to world-leader in genetic and stem cell research in less than a decade.

86) Drinking at The Star Inn, Netherton, Northumberland. A real ale gem in the wilds of Coquetdale featured in the CAMRA good beer guide for 33 years.

87) Mining at Ellington Colliery, near Ashington. The last link to the once-mighty coal industry and a pit which simply refuses to die.

Ellington Colliery
Ellington Colliery

88) Studying `science fiction' - Sunderland University's School of Computing and Technology is an international leader in the future technology that is artificial intelligence.

89) Cruising up river as The Tall Ships Race returns to the region in 2005.

90) Climbing the premier artificial rock wall in Europe - found at the £1m Sunderland Adventure Centre.

91) The Likely Lads.

92) Viewing art at The Waygood Gallery and Studio in Newcastle's High Bridge - nurturing local contemporary artists in the shadow of the international talent on show at Baltic.

93) Munching fish and chips on the Shields ferry.

94) Breaking records at Nissan - the most productive car plant in Europe for seven straight years, and cornerstone of a thriving industry employing 12,000 people.

95) Preserving the Lindisfarne Gospels - WHEN we get them back.

96) Winning the BBC Sports Personality award more times than anywhere else - seven in all from Tommy Simpson to Jonny Wilkinson.

Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson

97) Taking the family to see Fenwick's Christmas windows.

98) Laughing at Viz magazine. It could only have been dreamt up in the North and, 25 years on, it is still proud to declare "it's not as funny as it used to be".

99) Teeing off at the Seve Trophy golf tournament at Wynyard next summer - the biggest golf event staged in the region will see the British Isles take on the rest of Europe.

100) Seeing the sun set over the Tyne bridges on a balmy autumn evening.

 

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