Cullercoats Bike & Kayak has won two top awards at this year’s North East Tourism Awards for its innovative boating tours and friendly seaside shop and café.
The business gave visitors to August’s Tall Ships Race in Blyth a completely different view of the fleet via day and night time guided kayak tours, and has now opened a second base at St Peter’s Marina in Newcastle’s East End taking people on kayak tours of the River Tyne.
The business was shortlisted for the Best Small Visitor Attraction and Best Guided Tour in this year’s North East Tourism Awards. The awards received 143 entries this year, including more than 60 businesses that entered for the first time – 20 of which, like Cullercoats Bike & Kayak – have made the final cut. The awards were presented on November 22 at a special celebration of the best in the region’s tourism at Newcastle Civic Centre’s Banqueting Hall, hosted by BBC Radio Newcastle’s Alfie Joey, one half of The Mimic Men comedy duo that appeared on this year’s Britain’s Got Talent.
Simon Laing, who has 10 years’ experience in school engagement activities including teaching kayaking, said: “It’s fantastic just to reach the finals of the awards after what has been a great year for us. It’s amazing to win the Gold for the best-guided tour and Silver for the small visitor attraction of the year. “Our guided tours at the Tall Ships Race really helped to put the business on the map and showed more people the kind of thing we do. “As a result, we’re attracting more business and have been able to open our second base right on the Tyne for our guided kayak tours of the river.” The new base at St Peter’s Marina will facilitate guided tours to the nearby bridges over the Tyne and give Simon’s customers the chance to see the city from a unique viewpoint.
Manager of St Peter’s Marina Brian Hunt was delighted to welcome the new addition to his facilities. “This is such a wonderful river and the more people that use it the better for everyone. We have people walking and cycling past us every day as part of the Coast to Coast route and it will be great to see people enjoying themselves on the water too under expert guidance from Simon.”
Cullercoats Bike & Kayak was set up by marine scientist and boating coach Simon Laing in 2014. The Newcastle University graduate cemented his lifelong love of kayaking when he lived in Vancouver and explored the superb inlets close to the Canadian city. On his return to the UK, he decided to open his own business. Just a stone’s throw from the sea, the shop also provides coasteering sessions, bike hire, along with hiring out kayaks and paddleboards, and taking people for marine safaris along the Tyne and along the rugged Northumberland coast.
Upstairs, visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of cake or tuck into home cooked breakfast or lunch in The Snug café. Labelled ‘Cullercoats’ finest little hideaway café’, it’s a dog and cyclist friendly and offers a chilled atmosphere whether you’re returning from a marine adventure or just stopping by for refreshment.
The Health and Safety Executive independently assess Cullercoats Bike & Kayak’s equipment and operating practices, its trainers are all approved to work with children.
You can find details of Cullercoats Bike & Kayak’s full range of courses and services, including children’s, stag and hen parties, tours, lessons and corporate exercises on the website at www.cullercoatsbikekayak.co.uk.