On Sunday 2nd August, myself and Sean were kindly gifted a one night stay at YMCA Greenhill thanks to Excalibur Press. YMCA have two locations, the first is Glenada holiday and conference centre and the second is Greenhill activity centre which are both located in Newcastle N.I. Yes, there are two Newcastle’s and it confused my Instagram followers!
Check in is at 3pm however, we didn’t arrive till after 5pm (they were extremely flexible) and checkout is at 10am. There are cabins around the grounds with the most beautiful view of the sea. The cabin we stayed in sleeps up to 12 people and to our bemusement, had bunk beds.
Around the grounds, there are activities such as rock climbing amongst other team building offerings. The YMCA team also take customers on various activities from bouldering to canoeing. In all honesty, I was excited about not having to worry about being the designated driver and after 5 months of us being stuck in the house, I was so happy to look at a different set of walls.
All the cabins are self catering with a living/dining area and shower facilities. Our cabin had a shower with a toilet and an extra toilet next door. The walk to the centre took us 10 minutes because I refused to take Sean’s shortcut when going, however, on the way back I agreed and it was a lot shorter even though I was freaked out by how dark it was.
What to do in Newcastle
I have always had a soft spot for Newcastle because it’s easy to get to, beautiful and it’s also where I learned to up-cycle which came in handy when I bought my house!
Anyone that knows me knows I love being by water so I could happily just sit by the sea all day with a bit of food however, there are many things to do. There are the Mourne mountains for those of you that are active and for the rest of us, there are your typical seaside amusements.
Most people go for the day or if you’re like my work colleagues that we ran into, you drive over an hour just for the Nugelato ice-cream which they told us is to die for.
If Newcastle beach is too busy for you, there is also Murlough beach just outside Newcastle which is stunning and soooo Insta worthy!
Where to eat
Before heading down, the guys from Dish You Were Here (check out their blog here) mentioned The Hatch which is a food van next to the Slieve Donard Hotel. They didn’t fail us! When we arrived, they had sold out of most of their food, so we decided to get a snack before heading somewhere else.
For £10, we got salt and chilli wings with BBQ belly bites. The wings had coleslaw with them as well. I was gutted we didn’t go there earlier because it was AMAZING!
We ate our food by the sea away from everyone and it was so lovely. We were lucky enough that the weather was nice so with how busy the place was, it allowed us to not worry about social distancing or the lack there of.
We next headed to Quinns. I remember an old colleague raving about it but I didn’t realise Sean had actually taken me there when we first started dating.
When entering, they now take your details (for tracing) and temperature. We were fine so they gave us a table surrounded by screens upstairs. In all honesty, I have always hated how close people get when you go for food (and Sean will literally talk to anyone) so these new rules are brilliant as they allowed me to eat in peace.
I was craving more pork so we had ribs topped with tobacco onions, chips and coleslaw. I also got to treat myself to a pint of cider which I’d say was well earned!
After eating, we went for another walk before heading back. The area is extremely quiet at night which was great and with our own balcony, we had everything we needed. We spent hours laughing and chatting. It felt like we were in an Air BnB somewhere across Europe which just added to the experience. It was very nostalgic!
If you are going to go, make sure to buy essentials like teabags and milk. I totally forgot and was dying for my bed time cuppa…
The next morning
We woke up around 9am and it was still so quiet even though the place was busy with people preparing to go for their activities. The shower was nice and hot so no complaints at all. When it came to checking out, we headed up to the reception and just handed the key in.
Overall, I’d recommend the accommodation whether you’re looking for a chilled getaway or a getaway filled with lots of activities. As I said, Newcastle is beautiful, and the YMCA is very clean and well kept. If we were to go again, we would definitely go earlier to make the most of the time. I’ll also be adding a video on my tiktok (@adiaryofachik) of our stay if you want to see everything we got up to!
For more information, check out their links below –
** This post is written in collaboration with Excalibur Press & YMCA Greenhill, however, all the opinions given in this blog are mine **