South Shields is situated in a peninsula setting, where the River Tyne meets the North Sea. It has six miles of coastline and three miles of river frontage, dominated by the massive North and South Piers at the mouth of the Tyne. These are best viewed from the Lawe Top, which also houses two replicas of cannon captured from the Russians during the Crimean War (the originals having been melted during World War II).
The town slopes gently from Cleadon Hills down to the river. Cleadon Hills are made conspicuous by the Victorian Cleadon Water Tower and pumping station (opened in 1860 to improve sanitation) and a now derelict windmill, both of which are listed and can be seen from many miles away and also out at sea.
South Shields boasts extensive beaches, sand dunes and coves, as well as dramatic Magnesian Limestone cliffs with grassy areas above known as The Leas, which cover three miles of the coastline and are a National Trust protected area. Marsden Bay, with its famous Marsden Rock and historic Grotto public house and restaurant set in the cliffs, is home to one of the largest seabird colonies in Britain.
One of the most historic parts of the town is the quaint and beautiful Westoe village, which consists of a quiet street of 1st grade and 2nd grade Georgian and Victorian houses, many of which had been built by business leaders from the coal and shipping industries in the town. Given its beautiful setting, parks and trees, this street was often the setting for a number of books by the novelist Catherine Cookson. Westoe village was once a separate village about a mile from South Shields, but urban sprawl has now consumed it, along with the village of Harton to the south on the main route towards Cleadon and Sunderland.
The South Shield branch also cover the surrounding areas of Lawe Top, Westoe, Horsley Hill, Harton, Chichester, Laygate, Tyne Dock, West Park, West Harton, Marsden, Cleadon Park, Whiteleas, Biddick Hall, Simonside, Lyton park, Mortimer, Whitburn, Cleadon, East Boldon, Boldon Colliery and Westoe Crown Village.