Derwent Walk Country Park and Derwenthaugh Park

The Derwent Walk Country Park is a mixture of woodlands, meadows, wetlands, riverside and reclaimed industrial sites all linked by the Derwent Walk. The Derwent Walks is the track-bed of the old Derwent Valley Railway and is 11 miles long, following the Derwent Valley between Swalwell in the north and Consett in the south. 

We have visitor centres at Thornley Woods and Swalwell, and free car parking is available. Find out more information, including opening times: Visitor centres


  • Walking Trails
  • Cycling routes
  • Horse riding: There is a 3 mile long trail through Derwenthaugh Park and along the Derwent Walk with undulating gradients and smooth surfaces on well surfaced multi-user tracks.
    The route crosses the River ford between Derwenthaugh Park and the Derwent Walk. Riders can dismount to cross the Butterfly Bridge.

Access and mobility

The Derwent Walk is wheelchair accessible at Swalwell Visitor Centre and Derwenthaugh Park is wheelchair accessible from Swalwell Visitor Centre and all three car parks along the A694, linking with the Derwent Walk near the Nine Arches Viaduct. A short circular boardwalk gives limited access to the woodland around Thornley Woodlands Centre. Both observation hides are wheelchair accessible.


The ancient woodlands of the Derwent Valley hold a wide variety of wildlife - carpets of springtime wood anemones and celandines, many birds including green and great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and sparrowhawk plus the occasional glimpse of animals such as fox, badger and roe deer. The flowers found in the hay meadows support butterflies like the common blue and meadow brown. The Derwent Walk is home to blackcap and whitethroat, heard singing in summer, and bullfinches and flocks of siskins seen feeding in the winter. The River Derwent supports a wide range of wildlife including kingfisher, dipper and otter.


There are observation bird hides at the following locations:

Thornley Wood
Overlooks a bird feeding station. Car parking at the Thornley Woodlands Centre.

Far Pasture Ponds and Shibdon Pond
Overlook wetland areas. Far Pasture - car park beside the hide. 

All hides are kept locked and keys are available for purchase from the Thornley Woodlands Centre and the Development and Enterprise Helpdesk at Gateshead Civic Centre. The hides are wheelchair accessible.  

For more information visit our Bird Hides page.

Northern Kites Project

Between 2004 and 2006 ninety four red kites were released into the lower Derwent Valley as part of the Northern Kites Project. Kites began to breed in the north east in 2006 after an absence of 170 years. The Northern Kites Project was managed by English Nature and the RSPB in partnership with Gateshead Council, the National Trust, Northumbrian Water and the Forestry Commission with additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the SITA Environmental Trust.

The Friends of the Red Kites run free Health walks every Monday from 1.30pm walking approximately 3 miles.

Site leaflet

For more information please see our Icon for pdf Derwent Walk Country Park and Derwenthaugh Park leaflet [6.97MB].

The park is owned by Gateshead Council and Durham County Council.


Rowlands Gill


NE39 1AU

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Opening hours
The park is open 24 hours.

Thornley Woodlands Visitor Centre
Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm
Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 3.30pm

Swalwell Visitor Visitor Centre
Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm or dusk if earlier.

Contact Us

Gateshead Council Countryside Team
Waste Services and Ground Maintenance,
Local Environmental Services,
Park Road, Gateshead

0191 433 7412

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