10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer (AD)

This post is sponsored by Land of Oak & Iron
The Land of Oak & Iron has so many interesting places to discover. From historic places to finding out about the industry that shaped today’s landscape to countryside and woodland to explore by bike, foot or horse - all with superb parking, cafés, facilities, access and events, too, making it the perfect destination for a family day out this summer.

It’s a place that is bursting with acres of beautiful natural woodland, rich in wildlife, and also has a whole industrial and cultural heritage to celebrate. Plus, it is less than 30 minutes away from Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer
CREDIT BlurryPhoto@ShakyTripod

1 Discover Nature at the Derwent Reservoir

There is a free discovery nature trail to take part in every day at Derwent Waterside Park. Simply collect a map from the café and shop, answer the questions along the trail and hunt for eight letters to spell a word linked to the surroundings. Then hand in your sheet at the café to claim your nature prize.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

2. Explore National Trust Properties

Gibside is a National Trust property with a Georgian landscape garden forged in an industrial past. This summer venture on Gibside’s nature explorer trail every day of the holidays. Plus, each week there will be a different activity to try which will help you get close to nature at Gibside. Grab a free nature explorer trail with your little detectives to find the answers to the questions. Plus, each week we will have a different activity running Monday - Friday. This event is free, but normal admission charges apply to the venue.
  • Week 1 (23 - 27 Jul) - storytelling
  • Week 2 (30 Jul - 3 Aug) - Blindfold rope trail
  • Week 3 (6 - 10 Aug) - Den Building
  • Week 4 (13 - 17 Aug) - Giant Nature Pictures
  • Week 5 (20 - 24 Aug) - Bird ringing
  • Week 6 (27 - 31 Aug) - Mouse House Building
10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

At Cherryburn they are running free activities every weekday of the school holiday (usual admission charges apply). Printing fun Thursday is where you can make a piece of art and learn about Thomas Bewick the famous artist and naturalist who was inspired by the beautiful countryside and created masterpieces of all shapes and sizes featuring.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer
CREDIT©National Trust Images Chris Lacey

3. Park Life in Blackhill & Consett 

Blackhill and Consett Park, which opened in 1891, is now a popular and well-used community space. It features The Steel Trail by Andrew McKeown and other artworks, a bandstand, drinking fountain and The Wishing Stone. A weekly park run and guided cycle rides take place throughout the year and community events are held during the summer months …

Until 20 August families with young children can book a free place for Wild About the Park where between 10am & 12noon and 1pm & 3pm you can try a range of outdoor and indoor activities and learn about the natural environment.

On Thursday 2 August the Mad Alice Theatre Company presents a play for children with music and storytelling. £2 for 4yrs and older.

There is also a community garden and a bowling green, and the Land of Oak & Iron has the digital interpretation displays in The Lodge providing lots of information for visitors. 

Blackhill and Consett Park is located in the Blackhill conservation area, it was laid out on reclaimed land by the Consett Iron Company and gifted to the community in 1891. The park adorns the hillside with rolling expanses of cultivated lawns, decorative borders and beds interspersed with woodland areas providing a picturesque link between Consett town centre and Blackhill. Stone piers and wrought iron frame the entrance and a red gravel path sweeps through the park.

Contained within the park is the original Victorian Fountain and a recreated Victorian-style bandstand on which colliery brass bands perform through the summer, a tribute to the industrial heritage of the region. Car park, toilet facilities, educational facility, two bowling greens, bandstand, outdoor theatre and play area. Blackhill and Consett Park has been awarded a Green Flag Award. These awards recognise well-managed parks and open spaces for all to enjoy. The Green Flag Awards are the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

4. Walk or Cycle along the Derwent Walk 

The Derwent Walk Country Park is a mixture of woodlands, meadows, wetlands, riverside and reclaimed industrial sites all linked by the Derwent Walk. It actually runs behind the house in which I grew up as a child. It 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 perfect for walking or cycling. There is a visitor centre at Thornley Woods where free car parking is available.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

5 Thornley Woodlands Centre & Sculpture Quest

Thornley Woodlands Centre is within the ancient woodlands of the Derwent Valley that are home to many birds including green and great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, and sparrowhawks. An observation hide is located within the woods with keys available for purchase from the centre. Walking routes from the centre are clearly marked including a circular route that takes in a number of sculptures carved from trees stumps including an otter and a red kite. 

Thornley Woods Visitor Centre, Lockhaugh Road, Rowlands Gill - Opening times: Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm & Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 3.30pm

A cosy cafe serves delicious locally produced and seasonal food, including healthy homemade soups, toasties and hot and cold drinks.  Friendly staff are on hand to provide information and advice on the local area, whilst a selection of wildlife information and children’s activity sheets are displayed around the Centre. You can also enjoy the Thornley Woodlands Sculpture Quest

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

6 Family Cycling

Keelmans Way - The Keelman’s Way joins the C2C route at the River Tyne with the rural leg heading upstream and passing through Ryton Willows.  The 6-mile route which follows the river is off-road and is well used by both cyclists and walkers.  The name comes from the ‘Keelmen’ who sailed in flat-bottomed boats called keels which transported coal.  This goes through Tyne Riverside Park, gives access to Clara Vale Nature Reserve, you can also take a path from it to Blaydon Burn Nature Reserve or Path Head Water Mill (via a quiet lane).

Cycle through Chopwell Wood - Whether you've just received your first bike, or you're happy racing over roots, Chopwell Wood offers a fantastic opportunity for natural cycling for all ages and abilities. The forest roads are well surfaced and traffic free.  Cycling in the forest is one of the safest and most relaxing ways to pick up confidence and develop cycling skills, before the challenge of the cross country and downhill mountain biking trails also on offer.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

7 Tyne Riverside Park

Spend a day out at Tyne Riverside Park at Prudhoe which includes the Spetchells where you explore the chalk mounds with a unique habitat at Tyne Riverside Country Park which follows the River Tyne for four miles through 200 acres of meadows, chalk grassland, woodland and river bank. Although the heaps are not natural, they now provide Northumberland's largest area of chalk grassland habitat. The wide range of flowers attracts many species of common and, occasionally, rare butterflies.

We recently had the pleasure of walking round Spetchells in Prudhoe when we enjoyed an outdoor theatre performance of Out There. Although geology left no chalk rocks in Northumberland, the county does have one area of chalk grassland, the Spetchells. As well as an abundance of families, cyclists and walkers The Spetchells also support plants typical of the ungrazed chalk grasslands of southern England, and a specialised chalk-loving fauna has also arrived, including rare butterflies and moths.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

8. Tanfield Railway

Join Land of Oak & Iron at Tanfield Railway’s Mining Heritage Weekend on Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th August, for a celebration of the North East’s mining and industrial railway heritage. Enjoy miners' banners, heritage group displays and brass band and folk music performances. On Saturday, both recently overhauled steam locomotive 'Austerity' N.C.B No.49 and restored carriage N.C.B A15, will be officially launched into traffic. Throughout the weekend travel on their vintage passenger train and see the demonstration National Coal Board freight train in action. Normal train fares apply but entry to the site is free.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

9. Allensford Country Park

Spend a day out at Allensford Country Park - cross the road from the cafe and climb the hill to the newly planted Bale Hill Wood, with great views down the Derwent Valley. Walk in the woods down to the river. Take a picnic, spend the day splashing in the river, digging on the small sandy beach, skimming stones or have a go at stone balancing. There are toilets, play area and cafe selling food, drinks and ice creams. Plus loads of space for ball games and running around, and is great for dogs too.

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

10. Discover the power of water at Path Head Water Mill

Path Head Water Mill is a hidden gem which includes a restored working water wheel, set in beautiful surroundings adjacent to the Blaydon Burn Nature Reserve. Open all year round for visitors, The Mill is located just 10 minutes from the Metrocentre, in a tranquil dell, adjacent to meadows and wooded walks with picnic facilities and a safe garden area. Escape the city and enjoy the views and wildlife whilst appreciating the past. It’s a great day out for the whole family, you can see how water power is harnessed to work machinery, find out why water being lifted uphill makes a knocking sound or become part of a sundial. Explore the gardens, chill out on the island and count the many different names on the brick path.

Path Head Water Mill is a great place for a visit. See how many different named bricks you can find in the paths, run around the whole of the UK in minutes or watch the water mill in action. Make a day of it by exploring the nearby Blaydon Burn, look out for industrial remains and plenty of wildlife. Go by bike and you can cycle to Barlow Burn Nature Reserve 

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer

Do let me know if you visit the Land of Oak & Iron this summer.

Deb x

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Land of Oak & Iron who has also supplied the images.

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10 Family Friendly Things to do in Land of Oak & Iron this Summer