Viking ship to sail up the River Tyne

The Gaia will sail down the River Tyne on Sunday 29 July Photo: YWAM Norway

A replica Viking longship will sail into Newcastle this weekend as part of the Olympic festival.

The 'Gaia' will row up the River Tyne and pass under the Gateshead Millenium Bridge on Sunday 29 July, with it's crew dressed in full Viking atire.

The vessel set off from France last week, and made a brief stop in the Channel Islands. The ship is now on it's way to Tyneside, currently sailing off the East Anglia coast. It's expected to arrive in North Shields on Friday evening, subject to the weather and tide.

The Gaia was built in Norway in 1990, and is a replica of a 24-metre Viking longship that was excavated at Gokstad in 1880. The 12-tonne boat is made of oak and is exceptionally seaworthy, and despite it's design being more than a thousand years old, the ship can reach speeds of more than 10 knots.

In 1991, the vessel even travelled across the Atlantic to North America to celebrate the 1,000 year anniversary of Leiv Eriksson's journey to Vinland.

The Next Wave is accompanying the Gaia on it's way to Tyneside Credit: YWAM Norway

The Gaia is being accompanied by YWAM sailing yacht on its journey. The 'Next Wave' is a 42-metre boat which has recently completed a northern European tour.

The Gaia will head back to its native Norway after visiting Newcastle.