Landscape In Gateshead, Tyne And Wear
Beautiful 360 hectare woodland, great for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
Chopwell wood is the largest woodland in Tyne and Wear, with a number of waymarked walks of varying degrees of difficulty. The longest of the routes is the Boundary Walk which is 9km, showing just how big the woods are.
On this route you'll get to see the history of the area, which dates back as far as the 12th century. Chopwell oaks were used at the castles of Norham, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh and were used by the Navy to build boats such as The Royal Sovereign in 1634.
In more recent times, there was a railway running through the wood, known as the Chopwell and Garesfield Railway (1896-1961). There is a stone bridge on the Boundary Walk, which is the last bridge of this type in the area. Up to 3,000 tons of coal from Chopwell Colliery were transported over it every day to High Spen then to the staithes at Derwenthaugh. The trees in the wood grow over coal seams, so there has been mining activity there since the 15th century.
Some restored tubs have been placed on one of the old tubways to give you an idea of their size and how much coal they could hold.
As well as the coal mining industry thriving at this time, there were several paper mills in the Derwent Valley. You can see remains of some settling tanks, again on the Boundary Walk, which once supplied clean water to the paper mill at the nearby village of Lintzford.
The woods really are open to everyone, whether you're just going for a stroll to take in the scenery or spot the sculptures along the way; or trying out one of the marked cycle trails, there is plenty of space and when we went on a recent walk, we barely saw anyone despite the busy car park.
If you're feeling ambitious, you might also want to try out one of two running routes which are 3k and 5k. They pass by some of the industrial heritage and sculptures, if you can focus on anything other than breathing.
A great spot for a wander anyway, and you might spot Roe Deer or Red Kites and Buzzards soaring over the Derwent Valley.
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There are a number of waymarked walks around the woods and there is a map for guidance in the main car park.
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There are 2 car parks, however, the main one is near High Spen. Postcode: NE39 2AG.
Contributed by Sandra Clemens
I love the great outdoors and have been a National Trust & English Heritage member for years. I also love going off the beaten track and finding places like Sharp's Folly or Rothley Castle which are hidden gems in Northumberland. My favourite recent hike was climbing Red Screes in the Lake District on a whim, not fully grasping how high 776m was. It was still an achievement to conquer a Wainwright walk and I hope to do more one day.
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