Parks, gardens, forests and woodlands
There are plenty of green spaces in and around Newcastle upon Tyne, where you can take a walk, ride a bike, use the play and exercise facilities and enjoy the fresh air. You never have to travel far to be closer to nature and there are some great places to visit.
The Alnwick Garden, in the market town of Alnwick, has the Grand Cascade as its centrepiece, the largest water feature of its kind in the UK. There is also the Rose Garden, the Ornamental Garden, the Serpent Garden with its numerous water sculptures, the Bamboo Labyrinth, the Poison Garden, the Woodland Walk, and the world’s largest wooden tree house. The garden is accessible for people with disabilities and wheelchairs are available to hire.
Elderberries runs at Alnwick Gardens. It aims to provide exciting opportunities for people aged over 50 and including reflexology, as well as events for people with dementia and a tea dance. To find out more about the Elderberries project contact Alnwick Garden.
Armstrong Park and Heaton Park are situated side by side, separated by Jesmond Vale Lane and close to Jesmond Dene. Facilities include a bowling green, tennis and basketball courts, a terraced pavilion, a football area and a children’s play area. There is also a picnic area and seating around the parks. Heaton Park has a Friends of the Park Group.
Big Waters Country Park is made up of a network of paths, mature woodland and a large pond. It is abundant with a range of birds and wildlife, making it popular with nature enthusiasts for bird watching and insect spotting. This nature reserve is also part managed by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust.
Birkheads Secret Garden situated in rural Gateshead between Beamish Open Air Museum & Tanfield Steam Railway, has three acres of themed gardens including formal topiary, herbaceous borders, gravel garden, Bowes Railway garden, wild flower meadow, wildlife pond, meditation garden, winter garden and beachcombers garden. There is also a nursery where you can purchase plants and a coffee shop.
Bolam Lake Country Park in Northumberland features lakeside, woodland and open grassed areas and is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It is accessible for wheelchairs. The lake is also available to be used for canoeing and fishing, by permit.
Durham University’s Botanic Garden is open to the public. There is a visitor centre, coffee shop, gift shop and toilet facilities.
Bradley Gardens is situated on the edge of the Tyne Valley. Just 9 miles from the heart of Newcastle, this 18th century walled garden has now been brought back to its former glory and is continuing to grow and flourish. Has a plant shop and cafe.
Brandling Park, a small Victorian park, can be found adjacent to the Great North Road. The park has a quiet village green atmosphere and is made up of informal lawned areas, lined by trees and a pleasant mix of flowers and shrubs. The park is connected to nearby Exhibition Park by an underpass, where you will find facilities including a café and toilets.
Chopwell Wood is a 360-hectare mixed woodland on the edge of Gateshead at Rowlands Gill and managed by Forestry England. It has horse riding, walking and cycling trails.
City Stadium is a popular park for running and sports activities today. There is a good network of paths and is well connected to the Ouseburn Valley and a variety of places to eat and things to do. There is also a gravel running track.
Denton Dene South is an ancient woodland to the west of Newcastle city centre. The ponds are home to a population of smooth and palmate newts and there is an abundance of birds and wildlife that can be seen. The geography of Denton Dene South means the paths can be steep and muddy in places, so is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.
Elswick Park has a mixture of shrubbery, mature trees and grassed areas. The park plays a vital role in community life. Within the park is a children’s play area, tennis courts, basketball courts and a 5-a-side area. Steps within the park are long and shallow. Two new footpaths have been installed with a shallower gradient making access for wheelchairs, prams and the elderly a lot easier. However, due to the topography of the park some paths are not accessible for wheelchair users.
Exhibition Park is a formal city park that has facilities including tennis courts, a play area, a cafe and a lake. Exhibition Park is also home to an adult (Saturday at 9 am) and junior (Sunday at 9 am) park run as well as the Tyneside Croquet Club and Model Railway Group – Exhibition Park
Fenham Pocket Park is a small community space for people to meet and relax. It is situated between Fenham pool and the library.
Gibside, a National Trust property, is an 18th century landscaped forest garden, featuring riverside and woodland walks. The grounds are also home to Gibside Chapel, which can be booked for weddings. Events are often held in the grounds, visit the website for further details and opening times. Gibside is partially accessible for people with disabilities and wheelchairs are available but must be booked in advance.
The park is situated in Gosforth, to the north of the city. It lies close to Gosforth High Street and is easily accessible by bus and by Metro. There are seven entrances. There are two hard courts for tennis and basketball. The Gosforth Central Bowling Club runs the bowling green Non-members are welcome to use the green and hire bowls, at an hourly rate
The Friends of Gosforth Central Park aim to encourage local residents to become involved in the maintenance and improvement of the park.
Urban Park Market run a monthly park market here
Gosforth Park Nature Reserve includes a lake and woodland, and is managed by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. It is part of Gosforth Park, the old estate of Gosforth House.
Harbottle Park was redesigned in 2011, by joining the former St Anthony’s Park and the Allendale Recreation ground. It has open grassed areas, a football pitch and children’s play area; the southern part of the park lies within a wildlife corridor and has 4 small wooded areas which are managed more for wildlife.
The reserve in Hazlerigg has a number of public rights of way and permitted footpaths and bridleways and is popular with cyclists, horse riders and dog walkers
Heaton Park and Armstrong Park are two of the five parks that make up Ouseburn Parks. The other three parks are Jesmond Dene, Jesmond Vale and Paddy Freeman’s Park. Heaton Park boasts a variety of shrubs, trees and flower beds. Armstrong Park is a mature woodland site with a slightly wilder feel.
Hodgkin Park was donated to the City Council by Thomas Hodgkin for the benefit and recreation of local people. The park originally had bowling greens, bandstands and ponds to complement its substantial tree cover. The park is in two parts, dissected by Armstrong Road The two parts of the park are different in character. Hodgkin Park north is smaller and more secluded and enclosed. The southern park is more open.
Iris Brickfield is a neighbourhood green space. The area is popular with local people and includes play areas, a trim trail, wetland and increasing areas of trees and shrubs. Local people have also been involved in developing the site’s wildlife appeal, and host the annual community festival.
Jesmond Dene is a very popular attraction in the heart of Newcastle. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife as well as Pets Corner which houses farmyard animals and birds. It is an excellent place to visit for families with children, as well as those just wanting a quiet stroll along the river. On Sundays, a craft fair is held on the nearby Armstrong Bridge which sells paintings by local artists as well as other handmade goods. Jesmond Dene has a Friends of Jesmond Dene group.
Jesmond Vale is a mix of woodland and grassland to the south of Jesmond Dene and Armstrong Bridge with a network of footpaths connecting it to Jesmond Dene, Armstrong Park and Ouseburn Park.
Mainly open grassland with a network of footpaths, kick about area for ball games and a play area.
Leazes Park is Newcastle’s oldest public park, with facilities including a fishing lake, tennis, a bowling green, picnic area and children’s play area. Leazes Park has a Friends of the Park Group.
Mowbray Park is one of the oldest municipal parks in the North East. It has been restored to its former Victorian splendour and features an unusual blend of historic and modern features, including an ornamental lake and a children’s play area.
North Kenton Park is mainly grassland, making it great for a kick-about, with a good network of footpaths and informal recreation areas.
The play area in the centre of the park is popular with families.
Nuns Moor Park offers tennis courts and a children play area. There is plenty of seating throughout the park as well as picnic tables. The park also has a Sensory Garden which is full of plants with strong scents to allow people with visual impairments to enjoy them. Nuns Moor Park has a Friends of the Park Group. The former Bowling Green is now the Bike Garden, a community space for hire and to get involved. For details of events and activities including bike rides and repairs contact Greening Wingrove. Time Exchange are also active here.
Paddy Freemans is a popular park which has a bowling green, two tennis courts, a playground and a cafe which is open in the summer months. There is plenty of seating throughout the park. Paddy Freemans Park has a Friends of the Park Group.
A peaceful nature reserve to the west of the city on reclaimed land from the Percy Pit. This open green space is popular for walking, cycling and horse riding with a network of public footpaths and bridleways. The park offers great views of the Tyne Valley and plenty of wildlife, wildflowers, tree plantations and birds to enjoy.
The Rising Sun Country Park includes ponds, woodlands, grassland and farmland. It is a haven for wildlife and has many interesting walks. The countryside area has an exhibition room and a children’s play area.
Saltwell Park in Gateshead (also known as the People’s Park) is a Victorian Park which has many features including woodland, ornamental gardens, public sports facilities, a lake, play areas, bowling greens, Saltwell Towers, an animal house, an education centre and a maze. The park is open from dawn until dusk throughout the year. Saltwell has a Friends of Saltwell park group.
Scotswood Garden is a unique award-winning garden based at the John Marley Centre. The garden was started in 1995 and has continually grown each year, thanks to the effort of local people and a large number of groups. The garden follows the principles of earth care, people care and fair share. This means that they recycle, waste nothing, and grow organic crops in natural associations, in ways that support wildlife. They have an ongoing programme of events and also have a range of opportunities for volunteers who want to contribute their time. The Elderberries project is based here on Wednesdays and anyone can go along and get involved in environmental projects, gentle gardening or preserve making.
A small park established over 100 years ago on the site of a former clay pit with a range of established trees, a former bowling green and a 5 a side football/basketball court. Several wildflower areas and a vegetable plot have been created and plans are in place to recreate a rose garden and funding is being sought to replace the children’s play area.
A semi-natural ancient woodland made up of oak, ash, beech and sycamore trees. It is home to a variety of wildlife and woodland birds. Parts of Hadrian’s Wall runs through the north part of the Dene and falls within the World Heritage Site. The Hadrian’s Way national trail and cycleway runs to the south of the Dene.
The park is mainly grassed lawns, flowerbeds and shrubs, with a small play area.
The park in High Heaton is mainly open grassland, mature woodland and has a children’s play area,
Tyne Riverside Country Park is a large country park with miles of paths to explore next to the river, through woods and past farmland. There are parking facilities, a picnic area, toilets, and a cafe. The Tyne Riverside Park has a Friends of the Park Group. This should be accessible to wheelchairs users and buggies as it is flat and there is tarmac.
On the western edge of Newcastle, this leafy woodland is a haven for native wildlife. It’s popular with walkers, cyclists, horse riders and runners.
Walker Park has two bowling greens, tennis and basketball courts and a children’s play area. There is also a small open-air amphitheatre, which is used for the annual samba music festival and other music events. Walker Park has a Friends of the Park Group.
A neighbourhood park, popular for dog walking and informal recreation with a bowling green, pavilion and tennis court.
Forests and woodlands
Find forests and woodlands near you using Forestry England’s website. They give more details about accessibility, facilities and activities available at each site. They also offer virtual forest trips online.
Forestry England blog lists 15 of the best picnic spots to visit in the North East.
Chopwell wood has picnic areas and walking and cycling trails across woodland.
Hamsterley Forest is suitable for walking, mountain biking and horse riding. A place for adventure with the family.
Walks and trails
St Cuthbert’s 3 Church trail Northumberland
The Hidden Gardens of Craster open as part of National Garden Scheme in June
The Land of Oak and Iron has many walks and trails for those on bike, foot or horse,
Take 10 minutes guided mindfulness in parks
You can scan a QR code using a smart phone when you visit local parks to listen to a free guided meditation session as you walk.
There are different guided meditations to choose from. Simply hold your camera on your phone up to the QR codes on the totems placed in the parks. You can then choose the meditation which best fits your walk. Some phones will need you to download a QR reader app first. The guides help you to: focus on the present, pay attention to the sights and sounds you experience in the park with increased awareness of your thoughts, physical movement and breathing.
- Castle Farm (opposite the Freeman Hospital in High Heaton)
- Iris Brickfield Green Space in Heaton
- Hodgkin Park in Benwell
- City Stadium Park in Shieldfield
- Tyne Riverside Park in Newburn
Other useful information
National Garden Scheme opens beautiful private gardens for charity. You can search for local gardens in your area on their website.
WinG Outdoor Activities offers a range of outdoor activities for individuals, families and groups. Using outdoor activities to improve people’s well being, improve fitness, meet new people and learn new skills whilst connecting with the wonder of nature.
Activities include: canoeing, cycling, bush craft, woodland wellbeing sessions, cabin building, cooking over an open fire, rock climbing and hill walking an map reading sessions.
They provide all outdoor equipment, minibus transport and instruction at the sessions.
Read more about fitness activities on InformationNOW
Last updated: November 29, 2023