Days Out Parks, Gardens, Walks & Tours
Tyne Leisure Cruises
The Seven Bridges Sightseeing Cruise from Newcastle Quayside offers an unrivalled opportunity to see the famous bridges from a different perspective. The three hour cruise takes in the magical Gateshead Millennium Bridge along with the Swing Bridge (which both open especially for this tour), plus the Tyne, High Level, Queen Elizabeth II, King Edward and Redheugh Bridges before heading down to the mouth of the Tyne and returning to Newcastle Quayside. Commentary is also provided.
40 minute cruises with taped commentary from South Shields on Thursdays and Sundays. Sail to the piers at 11.15 and towards Wallsend at 14.15. Just £1 on top of the standard ferry fare. Afternoon River Cruises Three hour round trips from South Shields to NewcastleGateshead on Sunday afternoons. Six trips running during summer 2005, including either a commentary or a band.
University of Durham Botanic Garden
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. A recent addition is a 2-hectare wildflower meadow. Written guides are available for £0.50 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. Open: March-Oct 10am-5pm daily, Nov-Feb 10am-4pm.
Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear
The Victoria Tunnel is a preserved 19th century waggonway under the city from the Town Moor to the Tyne, built to transport coal from Spital Tongues (Leazes Main) Colliery to the river and operated between 1842 and the 1860s. The Tunnel was converted in 1939 into an air raid shelter to protect thousands of Newcastle citizens during World War 2.
There’s a whole series of walks around NewcastleGateshead with something to suit every taste. Daily walking tours commence at 2pm from the Newcastle Information Centre on the following days: Wed & Sat (1st June-2nd July); Mon-Sat (4th July-3rd Sept); Wed & Sat (7th Sept-24th Sept). Cost £3.
Open 1-5.30 Wed-Mon during the summer, 1-4.30 during the winter. The garden and grounds are open from dawn till dusk all year round. The house itself is a decadent seventeenth-century mansion containing a huge collection of fine ceramics, paintings and, bizarrely, dolls' houses. The gorgeous garden is the main attration encompassing lawns dotted with sculptures, water features and a wildlife hide.
Ward Jackson Park
Hartlepool, Tees Valley
Ward Jackson Park is huge. It covers 8.1 hectares and was opened in 1883 to celebrate one of Hartlepool’s greatest entrepreneurs, Ralph Ward Jackson. It is celebrated because of its collection of Victorian and Edwardian features, such as The Lodge House (1883), bandstand (1901), fountain (1902) and clocktower (1925).
Washington Wetlands Centre
Washington, Tyne and Wear
Open: 9.30am-5.30pm. 364 days a year. Adult £8.45, Conc. £6.50, Child £4.25, Family £23.00 (Two adults and two children). The centre is set in 100 acres of stunning wetland and woodland on the River Wear and is a major conservation success story providing as it does a home to hundreds of rare and endangered ducks, geese and swans.
Watergate Forest Park
Reclaimed site of the former Watergate Colliery extensively landscaped with trails and paths through heather moorland, wildflower meadows, lakeside, woodlands and coppices.
Open: All year. Formed from part of the grounds of Dryburn Hall - the Wharton family residence - Wharton Park offers incredible views across Durham as well as including a Victorian-style conservatory, tennis courts and a kids’ play area with swings.
Wynyard Woodland Park
Based on a section of the old Stockton to Wellfield railway line, this park started life as one of several nature trails throughout the country established on old railway track beds.