Our ‘Top 10s’ lists are ideal to print and keep handy so you’re never stuck for inspiration for exploring your local area, or there are some fab hidden gems in Local Walks Away from the Crowds plus plenty more info & ideas below.
Some venues and facilities may be closed due to Covid-19, please check directly with venues before making plans. Always follow the latest Government guidelines on social distancing and protective measures. Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms. Check the latest Government guidelines and updates here.
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Allensford, Castleside, Consett, County Durham, DH8 9BA
Tel: 01207 218219
14 acre park with woodland and riverside walks, picnic areas and children’s adventure playground with a range of equipment. Some areas of stream suitable for paddling. Cafe open daily serving snacks.
mid Feb – Sep, daily: 10am – 6pm
Oct, daily: 10am – 5pm
Nov – mid Feb, weekends: 10am – 4pm
Belsay, Northumberland, NE20 0DX
Tel: 0870 333 1181
An English Heritage site with a medieval castle, grand Grecian villa and 30 acres of gardens, including: Crag Wood Walk, Yew Garden, Magnolia Terrace, Rhododendron collection and a Quarry Garden of exotic plants. Tearoom serving lunch and treats.
Child (5 – 17 years): £6
Family tickets: from £26
Under 5 years: free
Wednesday – Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday – Sunday: 11am – 5pm
(Closed mid Oct til end of Feb/March)
Birk Heads, Marley Hill, Gateshead, NE16 5 EL
Tel: 07778 447920
A 3 acre site with themed gardens, water features, garden shop and café. Plus you can pick up an ‘I spy trail’ for children.
Child: aged 4-15: £2.00
Seniors & Students: £4.50
Bolam, Northumberland, NE20 0HE
Tel: 01661 881234
Country park with woodland, grassland and large lake, with various walking trails including an easy 3/4 mile lakeside walk. There’s a Visitor Centre with cafe serving snacks and treats, open at weekends and holidays during spring/summer.
Farm/Coffee Shop daily: 9am – 5pm
Forest Adventure (weather permitting):
Saturday – Sunday: 10am – 4pm
(Daily during Summer/Autumn school holidays).
Broom House Farm, Near Witton Gilbert, Durham, DH7 6TR
Tel: 01913 718382
A working farm with hens, piglets and cattle (no charge to view animals however no feeding/petting). Plus grassy play area and forest adventure, with puzzling quiz trails, zip wires and tunnels.
Forest Adventure: £5.50
Family (2 adults, 2 kids): £20
Under 2 years: Free
Paddling pool open last May weekend to the first weekend in Sep.
Off Castle Square, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 1YD
Tel: 01670 623509
Park with formal gardens, woodland and riverside walks and a more challenging walk up Haw Hill, the site of an 11th-century motte and bailey. There’s a skate park, play area and paddling pool.
Marley Hill, Near Stanley, Co Durham, NE16 5EG
A woodland walk alongside the Tanfield railway track, the world’s oldest railway with steam trains running on selected dates. Cross a disused railway bridge over a woodland gorge and take the steps down to a riverside walk, with some areas suitable for plodging. Causey House Tea Room in car park serving meals and treats.
Chase Park, Front Street, Whickham, Gateshead, NE16 4EE
Refurbished in 2017, with well-kept gardens, tennis courts, skateboard park, table tennis and outdoor gym. There are toddler and junior play areas, including a zip line and water play, with an Archimedes screw which turns to move water up.
Chopwell Wood, Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, NE39 1LT
Tel: 01388 488312
There are four walking trails of varying lengths that criss-cross through the woodland. Cyclists of all ages and abilities can enjoy the network of cycle paths, with moderate blue graded trails and a fast and exhilarating red graded trail.
Cullercoats Bay, North Tyneside, NE30 4BY
A sandy bay enclosed by two piers, with nearby dining options including cafe, takeaway and pub. Moderate coastal walks of around 3-4 miles to Whitley Bay beach or Tynemouth beach.
Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, NE39 1AU
The park runs from Swalwell to Rowlands Gill and is made up of several countryside sites, including woodlands, meadows, wetlands and riverside, all linked by a series of waymarked walks. There are two visitor centres with cafes, public toilets, 7 car parks, and easy access walks suitable for prams.
Beach – Open access
Cafe/shop, April – Sep weekends & holidays: 11am – 4pm
Red Row, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 5BX
Tel: 01670 760968
3.5 miles of beach, plus woodland, grasslands and Ladyburn Lake. Lake permits available for boat sports. Visitors’ Centre with displays on the local area, plus a cafe, shop and young children’s play area. Separate play area for older children.
Water Sports: from £4.
The Staiths, Dunston, Gateshead, NE11 9DR
A riverside walkway/cycleway along the Tyne with views of the huge grade ‘A’ listed timbre railway structure, first opened in 1893. Visit Saltmarsh Garden then continue on a pleasant 2 mile riverside walk to Gateshead Quays, home of the BALTIC, Sage Gateshead and Millenium Bridge.
March – Oct, daily: 10am – 5pm
Nov – Feb, daily: 10am – 4pm
Hollingside Lane, South Road, Durham, County Durham, DH1 3TN
Tel: 0191 334 5521
Plant collections from around the world, including woodland, alpine, a bamboo grove, tropical rainforest plants, desert plants and Mediterranean plants. Also tropical bugs, scorpions, tarantulas and in spring-summer rare breed sheep.
Infants (under 5): Free
Exhibition Park, Claremont Road, Newcastle, NE2 4PZ
Tel: 0191 232 8520
Park with grassland, woodland and lake, plus crazy golf, skate park, sports courts, water play trough and playground with sandpit and mini diggers. There’s a Military Vehicle Museum, a cafe and Wylam Brewery serving main meals. Behind the brewery is a miniature train track with free rides 11am-3pm first Sunday of each month (April-Sep plus seasonal specials).
Donations welcome for train rides.
Sunday – Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm
(times may changes seasonally)
Rowlands Gill, Burnopfield, Gateshead, NE16 6BG
Tel: 01207 541820
There’s plenty to explore in this National Trust 18th century landscape garden, with 600 acres of gardens, woodland and countryside, chapel, cafe and two children’s outdoor play areas, with a zip wire, sandpit and water play trough. Plus regular family events and workshops.
Adults: from £12
Child: from £6
Family: (2 Adults:): from £30
Family: (1 Adult:): from £18
Cafe open daily 9am – 5pm
Redford, Hamsterley Forest, County Durham, DL13 3NL
Tel: 01388 488312
2,000 hectare area with range of woodland and riverside walking/cycling trails, bike hire and play areas. Story character trails with Zog and the Gruffalo sculptures. Viking trail with forts and boats. Some parts of stream suitable for paddling. Optional 2 mile ‘Forest Drive’ with scenic lookouts. Cafe serving snacks and treats.
Chester Road, Penshaw, Sunderland, DH4 7EL
Tel: 0191 5348526
Park with walking and cycling trails, play area with sandpit, skate park, lake, environmental sculptures and amphitheatre. Cafe serving lunch and main meals.
Thursday – Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Closed mid Dec until Feb.
Open bank holidays & school holidays.
Opening hours vary seasonally, check with organiser.
Village and Bede Museum, Church Bank, Jarrow, South Tyneside, NE32 3DY
Tel: 0191 424 1585
Museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Venerable Bede along with Anglo-Saxon dwellings, set in 11 acre grounds including a farm with rare-breed and rescued animals.
Adult (16+): £5
Child (5-15): £3
Family (2+4): £16
Park: open access
Pet’s Corner, daily: 9am – 4.30pm
Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne And Wear, NE7 7DA
Tel: 0191 281 2082
Woodland stretching over three kilometres with streams, waterfalls and a network of paths and bridges. Some parts of the stream are suitable for paddling. There’s a visitors centre, café and outdoor play area with slides and nest swing. Plus ‘Pet’s Corner’ with pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits and birds.
Free, donations welcome.
Sea Road, South Shields, South Tyneside, NE33 2JS
Tel: 0191 427 7000
Park near the sea front with formal gardens, play area with sandpit, lake with ducks and pedal boats, miniature ride-on steam train and art trail with ten sculptures. Cafe serving snacks and treats.
Shields Road, Hartford Bridge, Bedlington, Northumberland, NE22 6AN
Tel: 01670 824793
100 acres of woodland, meadows and riverside with picnic areas and walking/cycling trails, including an art trail with fun sculptures and fairy doors. A new play park opened in Spring 2019 with traditional wooden equipment. Parts of the stream are suitable for paddling. Visitor centre with cafe open at weekends.
Daily 6.30am – 6.30pm
Café, daily: 10.30am – 4pm
Opening may vary seasonally, check with organiser.
North Road, Wallsend, North Tyneside, NE28 8RH
Tel: 0191 643 7897
Victorian park with formal gardens, lake and woodland walks, sports courts, skate park and playground with swings, slides and toddler playframe. Plus a water play feature with trough and pump. Cafe serving snacks and treats.
Park: open access
Water Play Area: daily 12 – 6pm*
*from Spring Bank holiday weekend (end May) to end of Sep, weather dependent.
Blyth, Northumberland, NE24 3EB
Tel: 07549 501 112
Park with formal gardens, wildflowers and woodland. Including sports courts, water splash pad play, and play area for all ages with sandpit and water trough play feature. Cafe serving snacks and treats.
Weekdays 9am – 3.30pm (4.30pm during holidays)
Saturdays 9am – 3.30pm
Sundays 10.30am – 3.30pm
Rising Sun Countryside Centre, Whitley Road, Benton, North Tyneside, NE12 9SS
Tel: 0191 643 2241
162 hectares of woodlands, grasslands, farmland and nature reserve with ponds. Walking and cycling trails, play area and a hillside water play feature with shallow stream, mini waterfalls and pebble mosaics. Cafe with terrace.
Garden/playground: open access.
Cafe: daily April-Sep, weekends Oct-March.
May half term, daily: 10am – 6pm
June, Friday – Monday – 10am – 6pm
July – Aug, daily: 10am-6pm
Riverside South Sports Pavilion, Chester-le-Street, Durham, DH3 3SJ
Tel: 0191 389 0986
Park with acres of gardens and easy riverside walk with ducks and swans. Large well-equipped playground, including castle-themed play frame and static wooden train. Splash pad with lots of fountains and water guns. Kiosk selling drinks and snacks.
Roker Park Road, Sunderland, SR6 9NB
Tel: 0191 520 5550
Miles of sandy beach with wide promenade and restored pier, with various cafes and restaurants at Pier Point. Easy seafront walk to Seaburn beach and beyond. Nearby is Roker Park, with formal gardens, lake, sports courts, two play areas and a miniature train ride.
Daylight access (changes seasonally)
East Park Road, Gateshead, NE9 5AX
Tel: 0191 433 7000
A Victorian park with well-kept gardens, streams, sports facilities and lake with pedal boats for hire. Plus there is a small maze, a pet’s corner and toddler and junior play areas, including a sand pit. You may also find bouncy castles and a Thomas train ride which drives around the park.
Rides open daily from 11am til late, times/rides weather permitting.
Sea Road, South Shields, South Tyneside, NE33 2LD
Tel: 0191 456 1617
Miles of sandy beaches, dunes, cliffs and a restored pier, with various seafront restaurants and cafes. Pirate themed mini-golf plus Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, with 40+ fairground rides. Around 2.5 mile coastal walk to Marsden beach, with striking rock formations.
Rides: from £10 for 25 tickets.
Open daily, tides permitting.
Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, NE26 4RS
Tel: 0191 200 8650
St Mary’s Island is reached by a short causeway covered by tides twice a day, with exhibits on the lighthouse’s history and surrounding Nature Reserve, including cliffs, grassland, beaches and rock pools. Brave the 137 steps to enjoy spectacular views from the top.
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Sunday: 12pm – 4pm
Burdon Road, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR1 1PP
Tel: 0191 553 2323
Museum with interactive exhibits on local history. Winter Gardens greenhouse with tropical plants, water features, treetop walkway and dinosaurs hidden among the plants.
Free, donations welcome.
Feb – March, daily: 10am – 4pm
April – early Nov daily: 10am – 6pm
Summer holidays: 10am – 8pm
Greenwell Road, Alnwick , Northumberland, NE66 1YU
Tel: 01665 511350
Formal gardens and woodland walk, with adventure golf, labyrinth and tree house restaurant with treetop walkways (buggy accessible). Various water features including splash areas for kids play. Regular performances and family workshops. Two cafes and a restaurant serving snacks and main meals.
£4.50 – £12
0-4 Years – Free
Family: from £30
Open daily: 10am – 5pm
(exc 25 & 26 Dec & 1 Jan)
The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co Durham DL12 8NP
Tel: 01833 690 606
A 19th century museum with fine and decorative arts, set in acres of parkland with childrens’ play area, including climbing frame, slide, bucket swing & balancing equipment.
Adult Pass: £14
Child Pass (5-17): £5
Family Pass (2+4): £30
Fees include unlimited entry all year around.
Woodland walk, daily: 10am – 4pm
Restaurant, weekdays: 12pm – 9pm
Saturday: 10am – 9.30pm
Sunday: 12pm – 8.30pm
Beamish Hall Hotel, Stanley, Durham, DH9 0YB
Tel: 01207 288750
Restaurant & micro brewery with nearby outdoor play area, with slide, rope bridge and zip wire. Serving lunch and main meals. Plus a small garden centre and Alice in Wonderland woodland walk with fairy doors, woodland creatures and a trampoline. Also onsite is the Beamish Wild Treetop Adventure.
Rowlands Gill, Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, NE39 1AU
Tel: 01207 545212
There are marked walking routes from the visitor centre, including a short circular easy access boardwalk route, plus there a various animal sculptures carved from trees stumps throughout the woods. There is also a cafe with a children’s play kitchen and toys, and children’s activity sheets.
Visitor centre/toilets open daily 9am – 5pm throughout summer.
Tel: 0191 2648501
Grange Road, Newburn, Newcastle, NE15 8ND
Around 60 hectares of farmland, woodland and grassland along the River Tyne, with walking trails and the Wylam Waggonway cycling trail. Riverside picnic area and children’s play area with separate toddler and junior areas. Nearby is Hedley’s Coffee Shop for snacks and treats, and the Keelman Pub serving main meals.
Estate/woodland: open daily until dusk.
Indoor areas: opening varies seasonally, see website.
Cambo, near Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 4AR
Tel: 1670 773 600
A 13,000-acre National Trust site, with a grand house featuring historical paintings, furniture and curiosities, plus gardens, lakes, rivers, woodland and farmland. There are various walking trails, an easy cycling trail and bike hire, three outdoor play areas, and cafe serving hot meals, snacks and treats.
Family: £21 – £35
April – Sep, daily: 10am – 5pm
Reduced opening hours Nov-March, see website.
The Avenue, Washington Village, Washington, Sunderland, NE38 7LE
Tel: 0191 416 6879
A National Trust manor house with displays on life during the 17th century, with compact gardens including an orchard, nuttery and vegetable patch. A children’s quiz/trail is available and there’s an outdoor play frame with slide. Tea room serving light bites and treats.
Family: £10.10 – £16.75
Off Whickham Highway at Lobley Hill, Gateshead, NE11 9RQ
Tel: 0191 433 7412
There are woodland, wildflower meadows and a lake, with gravel paths including a 1.4 mile circular walk around the lake. The Watergate Cafe has toys, books and arts & crafts supplies and a small outdoor enclosed area with creative toys. They also run pre-school activities and workshops.