Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron (AD)

This post is sponsored by Land of Oak & Iron

My youngest has been listening to Mr Blue Sky incessantly since watching Baby Groot dance to it in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and it looks like we might be getting more blue skies soon. 

I can’t wait for more blue skies and sunshine. I know it improves my mood, and it’s great to be able to get out and about in the great outdoors on family days out again. It’s half-term again next week and in this post, we are collaborating with the Land of Oak & Iron looking at some of the fantastic family-friendly events and activities to enjoy this spring outdoors in and around the Derwent Valley.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron 

Here in North East England, we have so many beautiful areas of countryside and outdoor spaces just waiting for us to immerse ourselves in as we get active. And the Land of Oak & Iron, which focuses on the Derwent Valley and the surrounding area, following the River Derwent from Derwent Reservoir to the River Tyne, involving Consett, Rowlands Gill, Prudhoe and Whickham, is no exception.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

Last year we wrote about where to see wildlife in the spring in the Land of Oak & Iron. The area is bursting with acres of beautiful natural woodland, rich in wildlife. It is an area which has a fascinating industrial past of iron and steel making, an abundance of natural woodland, and intriguing stories of people who helped shape history, and a whole industrial and cultural heritage to celebrate. Plus, it is less than 30 minutes away from Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland so worth checking out.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

1. Stick Week at Gibside

Get creative during May half term with stick week at Gibside every day from Saturday 25 May until Sunday 2 June between 11am and 3pm. How much fun can you have with a stick? Join in during May half term week to have lots of fun with the humble stick. Create a journey stick to remember your walk, play stick-themed games and build a huge den. This event is free, but normal admission charges apply for the National Trust visitor attraction.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

2. Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre

The Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre opened in Winlaton Mill last autumn. Located just a few miles from the MetroCentre, close to the A1, the Derwent Walk, Red Kite Trail and the Coast to Coast Cycleway it is also the gateway to the Derwent Valley.

The centre provides a unique interpretation of the fascinating local heritage, heritage skills training for volunteers. In addition, the site is also home to a small café and gift shop, café shrub. Here you’ll find gifts and items from local suppliers and craftspeople in the Derwent Valley area, with a selection of handmade jewellery, soaps, candles, local food and drinks as well as historical information about the area, children's books, cycle accessories and repair kits. Even have gifts for four-legged friends!

On Saturday, 25 May between 10am& 2pm there is a free Candy Tasting event where visitors can sample an array of delicious sweet treats from the Canny Candy Gadgies at café shrub on. The gift shop will be stocked with plenty of products to buy and takeaway too.

On Sunday, 26 May the Whittonstall Community Band will be playing in the courtyard.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

3. Push the Boat Out Day

Ever wondered if sailing or windsurfing is the hobby for you? Now is your chance to find out. At Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club on Saturday, 25 May is Push the Boat Out Day. A day for members of the public to come along to the sailing club and have a free try at windsurfing and/or sailing and enjoy a ride around the lake in Muriel. Just turn up from 11 am and book a slot. Suitable for all the family. No experience or equipment needed. Just shoes you don't mind getting wet! 

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

4. Family Birdwatching

On Thursday, 30 May parents will be able to keep the kids entertained at one of two Family Introduction to Bird Watching sessions. Taking place at the Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre at Winlaton Mill from 10.00am to 11.30am and from the Tyne Riverside Country Park in Prudhoe from 1.30pm to 3.00pm.

During each session, Michael Turner will guide families through the basics of bird watching, showing them how to get the best out of this most enjoyable pastime. In just an hour and a half, families will learn how to identify birds by sight and sound and find out what equipment they need to help them spot wildlife, and perhaps more importantly when it comes to keeping the cost down for mums and dads, what equipment isn’t needed too. Just some of the unique birds and wildlife little ones may be able to see during the Family Introduction to Bird Watching sessions include tree sparrow, grey wagtail, jay, and the blue tit. 

Children aged five years and younger go free. The cost for older children is £5.40 and adults £7.20. Tickets must be booked in advance, with full details and the booking facilities available on the Land of Oak & Iron’s website.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

5. Family Heritage Trail

Part of National walking Month there is a family heritage trail on Wednesday, 29 May from the Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre at 10am. Discover some of the industrial and natural heritage around Derwenthaugh Park, on this free guided walk suitable for families. Please wear weather appropriate clothing and footwear and bring a drink with you. Free but places must be booked.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

6. Bees and Bugs Bonanza!

On Friday, 31 May between 1pm and 3pm there’s a Bees and Bugs Bonanza at Blackhill and Consett Park. Join in the free family fun discovering more about the wonderful bees and other bugs that hide amongst the undergrowth of Blackhill & Consett Park. Please book your place

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

7. Woodland Plant Walk

On Saturday, 1 June learn how to identify which woodlands plants indicate the location of ancient woodland and discover some of the historical and current uses of certain woodland species with Durham Wildlife Trust staff. Please note there are some steep inclines on this route, wear sturdy footwear. Park at Allensford Country Park, just off the A68 at the opposite end to the Café.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

8. Dragonfly Identification Talk and Walk

On Sunday, June 2 between 10:45am & 12:30pm there is a free Dragonfly Identification Talk and Walk (booking essential). If while walking at a nature reserve you have seen a tiny green, red or blue blur whiz by you – it very likely that it was either a dragon or damselfly. They have been flying around like that since prehistoric times but like so many species in the UK, they are declining and need our help. 

Each year volunteers from the Durham Wildlife Trust survey a range of sites looking for evidence of their breeding (they leave behind an exoskeleton called an exuvia). As Summer approaches, these wonderful creatures will be emerging, so it is time to start looking out for them and if possible, to record any sightings. 

There will be a one-hour indoor training, followed by (weather permitting) a tour of local ponds to hopefully, spot a good selection of dragon and damselflies. So, whether you just want to learn more about these colourful and inquisitive creatures, or you would like to help gather scientific data for the Trust, this workshop is ideal.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

9. Derwent Waterside Park

Over near Consett the Derwent Waterside Park is a perfect location to enjoy time in the fresh air. Open every day there is a play park for youngsters; cycling and walking routes to explore with two and four-legged friends; a cafe serving hot and cold refreshments and snacks, plus a shop bursting with gifts and angling essentials.

The interactive play space is designed to let young creative minds wander through play and discovery. From thrill-seeking tots to daring teens, our outdoor adventure playground encourages children to engage in the open air whilst boosting their health and fitness.

With wildlife, countryside, fun and inspiration this is a haven for nature enthusiasts and anglers, walkers, cyclists, families, groups and individuals, there really is something for everyone. Please note there is a car parking charge payable.

Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley

Enjoy half-term!

Deb x

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Half-term family fun in the Land of Oak & Iron derwent valley