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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.


Children's Outdoor Activities

Saltmarsh Wild Play Children’s Summer Holiday Activities. Drop in between 1pm – 3pm at the Saltmarsh Garden opposite the most western entrance to Dunston Staiths. Children must be accompanied by an adult, all welcome but activities are aimed for ages 5 – 11. All activities are outdoors and free.
Tuesday 23 August 1pm – 3pm. Things with Wings

Ephemeral Land Art Workshop
Meet Thursday 25 August, 5pm at Thornley Woodlands Centre, off the A694 to join artist Jane Gower for an evening walk and discover new ways of exploring the landscape through making temporary land art. Find beautiful objects in nature; seek out enchanting spaces; collect colours; and create sculptures and 3-D collages.

£5 - 14 years+ For further information and to book tickets visit What’s on email  or telephone 0191 433 8445.

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


Tyne Kittiwakes travelling from Gateshead to France! 

Kittiwakes have been added to the UK’s Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern, because they are declining in numbers around the coasts of northern Britain.

Thankfully, our kittiwakes on the Tyne are bucking this trend, as they are doing well and not suffering the declines experienced elsewhere.

The other really special thing about the kittiwakes on the Tyne is that they nest so far away from the sea.  The Tyne birds nest further inland than any other kittiwakes in the world.  This is usually a true ‘sea gull’, nesting on coastal cliffs, such as those at Marsden, and spending the rest of the year out at sea.
Tyne Kittiwakes  Dan TurnerImage credit - Dan Turner

Three kittiwakes, hatched at the specially constructed artificial nesting tower in Gateshead, have crossed the North Sea and been found at a breeding colony at Boulogne in France, in the last few years.  This French colony, just like the Kittiwake Tower Local Nature Reserve in Gateshead, is a site where Kittiwakes nest on artificial ledges.

We have been able to identify these birds because they were ringed at the Tower by volunteers from Northumbria Ringing Group. The group carried out ringing sessions at the Tower every year for ten years, from 2003 to 2012.

Gateshead’s Kittiwake Tower Local Nature Reserve has just had a makeover ready for the 2016 breeding season.

The Council has recently carried out a project to clean up a small area of contaminated land within the boundary of the nature reserve, around the Tower. The area will be seeded with a wildflower mix in the spring. This will tie in with the surrounding wildflower meadows elsewhere in the nature reserve and along Saltmeadows riverside. It will improve the land around the Tower for wildlife – and make it look more attractive in the summer.

Look out for the birds returning to their high-rise home on the Tower from late March onwards. They will build nests and stay until the end of August, then go back out to sea for the rest of the year. The best time to see them with chicks is in late June and July. You can view the Tower from the east end of South Shore Road, by the Keelman’s Way riverside path, on Saltmeadows riverside.

Kittiwake Cam streams again

With thanks to BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Durham Wildlife Trust, the Kittiwake Cam will once again stream live footage from the kittiwake nesting site on BALTIC's north wall. This unique project gives an intimate insight into the lives of these red-listed birds as they nest, breed and rear their young from the Newcastle/Gateshead Quayside – recognised as the world’s furthest inland kittiwake nesting site.

To find out more about kittiwakes, take a look at the Tyne Kittiwakes Partnership website.

Summer 2016 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 - 4pm.

Swalwell Visitor Centre 10am - 4pm daily.

Under new management

Durham Wildlife Trust have taken over the management of 7 sites across Gateshead: 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.

Dunston Saltmarsh Garden

The Saltmarsh Garden was officially opened by the Leader of the Council in June 2016.
For more information visit our Saltmarsh Garden webpage.

Find out about the range of events taking place in the Saltmarsh Garden this year.

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.