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Countryside and Wildlife

Lamesley Pastures
The Angel of the North from Lamesley Pastures Countryside Site

Did you know that over half of Gateshead is made up of Countryside?

The council cares for over 20 nature reserves and country parks for the benefit of people and wildlife. These wonderful places include ancient woodlands, wildflower meadows, ponds and riverbanks and most are just a bus ride away.

Our aim is to "Conserve, enhance and promote our countryside for the benefit of people and wildlife."

There is lots to see and do in Gateshead's countryside, you can take a
walk, watch wildlife and escape from the stresses of modern life. We produce a number of leaflets and most of these are available as downloads or are free from libraries and visitor centres. 

Countryside Volunteers
Gateshead Voluntary Countryside Rangers

Gateshead Voluntary Countryside Rangers

If you want to get more involved in our work you can help us by joining 
Gateshead Voluntary Countryside Rangers. The Voluntary Rangers take part in a wide range of work such as tree planting or carrying out wildlife surveys.

Red Kites

The Northern Kites project, now ended, was one of the northeast's most high profile wildlife initiatives. The aim of the project was to return breeding red kites to the region after an absence of 170 years and to provide opportunities for people to enjoy and appreciate these spectacular birds. The project was the first in the world to re-introduce kites into a semi-urban environment in Gateshead's Derwent Valley.

The Friends of the Red Kites (FoRK) are still active promoting Red Kite and their conservation. To find out more, including information on events and how to become a Red Kites Volunteer visit the Friends of the Red Kites website


Winter visitor centre opening times

Thornley Woodland Centre 10am - 3pm daily weekdays, and 10am - 4pm weekends.

The Cafe in the Woods at Thornley Woodlands Centre is open from 10am - 3pm.

Swalwell Visitor Centre 10am - 4pm daily.

Under new management

In summer 2014 Durham Wildlife Trust took over the management of 7 sites across Gateshead.

The sites are Lamesley Pastures, Cross Lane Meadows, Chopwell Meadows, Westfield Pastures (near Ryton) Addison Woodlands and Hedgefield Quarry, Barlow Burn (owned by SITA) and Shibdon Meadow.

The sites are being taken on a 30 year lease and a member of staff from the Wildlife Trust will oversee the management of the sites and encourage community involvement.

Wildground trainees required 

Applications are being by sought by the Durham Wildlife Trust for 6 trainees to take part in a practical training programme leading to a Level 2 Diploma in Practical Environmental Conservation Skills.

The project will be based at Swalwell in Gateshead and placements will begin on 4 April. Traineeships last for ten months and a bursary of £10,000 will be paid to cover living costs throughout this period.

The closing date for applications is 5 February. For more information see the Wildlife Trust's Wildground Trainee webpage.

Dunston Saltmarsh Garden

The Saltmarsh Garden opened to the public in autumn 2015. 
For more information visit our Saltmarsh Garden webpage.

Saltmarsh Garden

For more information on the Staiths restoration project visit

Friends of Red Kites Health Walks

The Friends of Red Kites are continuing with free health walks every Monday afternoon. Walks start at 1.30 until 3pm (approx 3 miles). New walkers please meet at 1.20pm to register.
For more information on meeting points visit the health walks page on the Friends of Red Kites website.

External links

Visit North East England

Wildlife images used on the countryside pages are courtesy of Darin Smith.