A Great North day out at Souter

Souter Lighthouse overlooking the North Sea on a sunny day

While Great North Run participants are busy achieving their personal best on Sunday 8 September, supporters can enjoy a great day out too.

Sitting along the closing stretch of the 13.1-mile race, Souter Lighthouse and The Leas is the ideal base for a day of coastal exploration.

At two and a half miles from the finish line, you can park in Souter’s car park all day for £10 and National Trust members can park up for free, simply bring along your membership card or ask someone from the team about signing up on the day. All proceeds from parking help us to look after this special place for future generations to enjoy. We’ll be able to develop more homes for wildlife and create new ways for people to experience the coast including improved access, innovative events and sports activities for all.

Make the most of an early start

You can enjoy a pre-run team huddle at Souter Lighthouse’s café. With special opening hours of 6.30am-6pm just for event day, there’s plenty of time to grab a breakfast bacon buttie or a scone. Or pick up a sweet treat from our ice-cream kiosk on The Leas; after all, it’s hungry work being a GNR supporter!

Discover an unexpected history

Built in 1871, Souter was the first lighthouse in the world purpose built to use electricity. A technological marvel of its day, Souter saw 117 years of service. With connections to Lewis Carroll and Grace Darling, as well as its very own lost village, there are plenty of tales to be uncovered.

Do your very own workout

Climb the 76 steps to the top of the lighthouse tower and soak up the views of the North East coastline. There are two and a half miles of magnesian limestone cliffs, wave-cut foreshore and coastal grassland on offer to enjoy. Follow the Souter Saunter walking trail to explore at your own pace, you can download the route here.

Let little legs roam free

There’s plenty of space to run around and play while the grown-ups enjoy a cuppa from the café. We’ll provide some outdoor games to get the fun started and, thanks to a partnership with British Cycling and HSBC UK, little ones can explore on two wheels with free balance bike hire.

A gentle introduction to cycling
A young child rides a bike across grass on a sunny day
A gentle introduction to cycling

Get closer to nature

Check out our wildlife garden. Created by a local charity the garden includes ponds, wildflowers, trees, berry bearing shrubs, bog garden, hibernation areas and much more – the perfect haven for wildlife. Or head to Whitburn Coastal Park that sits upon reclaimed colliery land. You’ll find tree planting, a bird observatory, viewing screens and wetland habitats. You might also spot Kittiwakes, Fulmar, Cormorants, Shags and Guillemots on the cliffstacks of Marsden Bay, just a short walk from the lighthouse. Don’t forget to pick up a family activity pack to make the most of your visit.

Exploring the shore at Marsden Bay near The Leas
A family explore the pebbly beach at Marsden Bay
Exploring the shore at Marsden Bay near The Leas

After the big day

Runners keen to keep up fitness once the big day is over can take a look at these options for exploring new places and seeking out new challenges in the North East.

We’ve teamed up with Great Run Local to offer weekly 2k and 5k courses at Souter to suit all ages and abilities. Like their Facebook page for the latest news. 

Revisit the finishing stretch of the GNR by joining the weekly South Shields Parkrun.

If you enjoy a challenging off-road route, the National Trust's annual Durham Coast Half Marathon might be just your thing.

Or if your running shoes need a breather, stay active on the 10.5mile two rivers cycle way. Set out on the circular route starting in South Shields, continuing along The Leas and past the lighthouse. As an added incentive you can grab a free hot drink in our café with any food purchase when you arrive at Souter on your bike.