Among plenty of reasons to visit Newcastle, I count some of our best live music venues, craftiest (?) pubs and proper graffiti art.

The Free Trade has two of those qualities, and a legendary free jukebox.

Much more importantly, it also has a quite wonderful pub cat, clearly a favourite of the FT’s resident bog artists.

I hadn’t been for a decade, and to be honest it seemed a bit gentrified, but that might just be students nowadays. I don’t remember hearing folk ask “What spiced rums have you got ?” before, and it had never struck me before as a place you’d take a date for a large white wine.

The Albion in Chester may have lost its “Family Hostile” sign, but “Drink Beer, Smoke Tabs” is still the striking watchword at the Free Trade.

It was as good as ever beer wise (Jarl, NBSS 3.5), the selection of strong dark beers would have won over Mrs RM, and you just don’t get views this good in Bedminster, which is a good comparator for this bit of Newcastle;

Best pub view ?

I was in Ouseburn for the Whitney/Julia Jacklin gig at the Cluny, but you can’t walk this far out of town (a whole 15 minutes from Pitcher & Piano) and not pop in the Cumberland Arms, particularly when it’s got old folkies doing Leonard Cohen songs.

Image result for cumberland arms newcastle
Photo from the Cumberland Arms
Name the Cohen song

One of the cosiest pubs anywhere, and beer (Wylam Rappper) up to Ouseburn standards. Quieter than you’d think, but those steps up from the Cluny are very steep if you’re young.

The Cluny had two gigs on, and was heaving with hipsters fighting over the Wylam/Cloudwater collaboration 7.2% IPA.   Actually, that was me.  Even with Sorachi hops, it didn’t taste as good decanted into a plastic cup, but in glass it was the beer of the night.  Cloudwater beers seem quite at home in Ouseburn.

The beer choices down the stairs at the gigs aren’t quite as exciting, but the Cluny is a wonderful little venue to get you close to the action without losing your hearing.  I was grateful for that two days after Amon Amarth.  Whitney sparkled,  Julia Jacklin was spellbinding in a short set that sadly missed out my track of the year so far.

A decade ago we were bringing our boys hear to Seven Stories book museum and Ouseburn farm, with lunch at the Cluny completing possibly Newcastle’s most middle class family outing.   The 3 pubs in the valley have been ever-present in the Beer Guide for longer than that, and rightly so.


  1. Free Trade is one of the best pubs I have ever been in. I agree the view is spectacular. We got to enjoy it on a sunny day. Really special. Loved the staff too. Kind of a hipster indifference which was rather charming.


      1. I am glad you made it to the Cumberland. It was closed at the time of day we arrived there.


      2. Love the Cumberland, one of those places you’re so glad didn’t get knocked down 40 years ago. Was the Leonard song his modern day classic “Anybody seen my pension”?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never had a drink in the proper North East,Durham is the closest i have been,probably put off by its old S&N days.
    Regarding pub views that looks good but what about the Founders Arms in Southwark,ive done it a few times and always love the views from it.


      1. I love drinking in London apart from the prices in some areas,i have took my brother and wife to the Founders for the view so done it three times.
        What dont you like about London,i think it is probably the best city in the world,but i am not as well travelled like most who reply to your blog.


  3. I did not think of it in that way,i agree with you as my Mam says those down south think the world ends at Watford.
    If i could give you a like i would.


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