Days Out Parks, Gardens, Walks & Tours
Washington, Tyne and Wear
Open 7.30am to dusk daily. This park was once described as the “green lung” of Middlesbrough, and by does it breathe fresh air into the place. It was first opened in 1868 and was the site where the original Middlesbrough Football Club formed in 1876. Since then, it has become a much loved family park, with facilities including tennis courts, a lake with rowing boats and two play parks: one for the ankle-biters and one for the adults.
Allen Banks & Staward Gorge
If you're a fan of hiking over gorge terrain then this wooded ravine may be for you. Once you've explored the miles of signposted walks past the hill and river scenery there's a picnic area next to the car park where you can refresh and regroup.
Backhouse Park has been a landmark in Sunderland for over a century. It was owned by the Backhouse family and at that time was privy to a number of horticultural experiments, specifically as the seedbed for a unique strain of daffodil. The Friends of Backhouse are now in the process of aggressively developing the park into a safe haven for naturalists and education.
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens
The Hall is an unfurnished architectural masterpiece inspired by the temples of ancient Greece. Explore the great room of the ruined medieval castle and don’t miss the stunning views from the top of the tower. Outside, there are the huge grounds. A grade I listed heritage garden, lovingly restored and packed with an impressive array of shrubs and flowers which change with the seasons. The high point of any visit to Belsay is the unique Quarry Garden is a fantasy of ravines, pinnacles and exotic plants.
Sea Road, South Sheilds
Bewick Road Park
There’s been a major transformation of this space which boasts wide open views across the Team Valley, new seating, a shaded wildlife garden and a toddler area filled with play facilities.
Billingham Beck Valley Country Park
Open daily 8.30am-4pm in winter and until 9pm in summer. Designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1992, Billingham Beck with its meadows, ponds, marsh and woodland is an ideal place for nature lovers and budding ornithologists. With parking and toilet facilities, the park is easily accessible to all and makes for a perfect Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon really) stroll.
Bolam Lake Country Park and Visitor Centre
Open: Visitor Centre: 10.30am-4.30pm. Weekends, Bank holidays and school holidays from 12.00pm-3.30pm. Bolam Lake Country Park lies about 9 miles west of Morpeth and is signposted off the A696 from Belsay. It is situated in the heart of the beautiful Northumberland countryside surrounded by historic landscapes and dramatic views. It has lakeside, woodland and open grassed areas for all to enjoy with the attractive lakeside walk being accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
Open: Mar-Oct. 10am-5pm / Nov-Feb. 10am-4pm. Adults £4 / Concessions £3 / Children £1.50. Free to Durham students A veritable rampage of colour in the summer and a great destination for sprawling around in when it’s hot, the university-owned garden range includes a sculpture garden (including various former Bishops of Durham), a Japanese Bank, a butterfly house and a tropical rainforest. Written guides are available and there’s also a glasshouse, a display of tropical insects and bugs, a visitors’ centre and a coffee shop. Some plants are also for sale.
Brown’s Rowing Boats/Prince Bishop River Cruiser
Rowing boats: Adults £5.00 / Children £4.00 (£10 deposit) What better way to take in Durham’s beauty than by rowing boat? Get your friend to row, drape your hand in the water and admire the view. Alternatively, if you’d both rather relax then hop on board the Prince Bishop River Cruiser for a boat cruise around the city.
Burn Valley Gardens
Hartlepool, Tees Valley
Burn Valley was opened in 1898 and covers seven hectares of land. There are various activities in the park, such as a children’s playground and a bowling green. There is a walkway which will take you through the family park and onto Ward Jackson Park. After the day is through, you’ll be parked out, guaranteed!
There is a wealth of activities and attractions in Carlisle Park. From the formal gardens and aviary you'll find the William Turner Garden, a modern tribute to this son of Morpeth known as 'The Father of English Botany'. An 11thC Motte and 12thC castle lead you to ancient woodland with resident red squirrels. Or stroll along the riverside promenade, take a rowing boat out on the river or enjoy the paddling pool and play areas, skate parks, bowling greens and tennis. open year round, Monday-Sunday