“ Jesmond Dene is a narrow wooded valley that follows the river Ouseburn between South Gosforth and Jesmond Vale. This provides an important wildlife corridor right into the centre of Newcastle. There is a spectacular mix of native and exotic trees, and the Dene is home to a lot of wildlife, notably the Kingfisher, the Red Squirrel and many woodland birds. The Dene stretches for over three kilometres and has many areas of tranquillity, as well as honey pots of activity. „
Jesmond dene is situated on either side a small stream that runs from the main suburbs of Newcastle, to the river Tyne. There are various attractions along it, including an old water mill, stepping stones and pet's corner. Pet's corner is the highlight from this list and it is a tiny urban zoo. It houses pigs, goats, sheep and various birds some of which are exotic. The peacocks are pretty fantastic here.
Pet's corner also has a pet cemetery which you probably don't want to spend a long time brooding in, but it is interesting to glance over. Pet's corner will also organise parties for kid's birthdays which are really fun and engaging for children.
There are smooth paths all around Jesmod Dene which makes it a very pleasant place to cycle through. There is a small downside to Jesmond Dene which is that it isn't the best place to be at night-time. I don't want to state non-facts and do not that it is not of this nature at all in the day, but at night it is best avoided by anyone, particularly anyone young or individual females.
About the Dene.
Jesmond Dene is one of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne's hidden gems. Tucked away in the North East of the City, the dene is an old Victorian park in a wooded valley. The River Ousebourn runs along the valley floor, complete with waterfalls and a quaint old water mill and the Dene is a lovely place for a stroll year round.
The Dene is crowded with many different species of trees, plants and flowers, which cluster along its steep banks. Wildlife including the Kingfisher, the Red Squirrel and many woodland birds have also been spotted her. Alongside these rarer creatures there are a good number of ducks for those of you with some left over stale bread to use up, always a good way to entertain the kids for a while!
The Dene stretches for over three kilometres and there are a large network of paths and bridges throughout. These are found at different levels along the steep banks and cirss-cross back and forth, occasionally connected by steps. It is easy to take a different route and to spot something new on every visit and after two and a half years in Newcastle I know I haven't explored every bit!
The dene also incorporates a number of areas of open grassland amongst the trees, complete with a good number of picnic benches and thankfully there are a healthy number of bins which helps to keep the place spick and span.
In addition there are many special events taking part in the Dene throughout the year, more about these later.
The History of the Dene.
The Dene was created in preparation to Lord Armstrong's marriage in 1835. The park was presented to the City of Newcastle Upon Tyne by Lord Armstrong in 1883 and the old bridge across the South of the Dene is named in his honour. The Prince and Princess of Wales officially opened Jesmond Dene to the public in 1884.
The main entrance to Jesmond Dene is just off the Coast Road (A1058) and is about a mile from Newcastle City Center. Limited parking is available here (free of charge).
In addition there are good public transport links from the City center and many buses stop at the pub 'The Cradlewell' on the Coast Road, just a two minute walk from the main entrance.
Activities and Events inside the Dene.
Millfield House, found near the main entrance provides a range of activities including an Information Room, Conference Centre, a basic and well priced café with indoor and outdorr seating and free public toilets.
Just nearby there is a large picnic area and 'Pets Corner'. which is well worth a gander regardless of age! Pet's Corner was established in the 1960's and is one of the dene's most popular attractions. There are many breeds of animal from the domestic to the exotic, including Pygmy goats, Pot Bellied pigs, peacocks, rabbits, ducks and sheep. Pet's Corner can get very busy in the Summer months and it is a popular place for school groups to visit. The best things about Pet's Corner is that it is completely free of charge all year round!
The Armstrong bridge stands proud, high above the lower stretches of the dene and it is a spectacular sight with its majestic old arcitecture. It is worth going to the dene on a Sunday in order to take in the craft market which is held here weekly. Locals gather to sell framed local photography, pottery, jewlerry and the like. It really is worth a look, even just to browse, as they have some lovely things.
There is also a small boating lake, in the Northern corner of the park which includes a substantial children's play area, free public toilets and a basic café which is open on the weekend and holidays only. This is a great place to feed the ducks and to relax on the grass of a Summer afternoon as it is one of the quiter areas of the Dene, being a little more out of the way.
The dene is also home to two restaurants, but both will strain the purse strings to say the least. The grand old Banqueting Hall, originally built by Armstrong, has recently been reconverted and opened just before Christmas 2005, chistened Jesmond Dene House. It is a hotel and restaurant tucked into a discrete Northern corner of the dene and easily accessible by road. It looks very exclusive from my gander at the website. http://www.jesmonddenehouse.co.uk/. The a la carte menu looks amazing, but at around £10 for starters and puddings and £20 for a main this is a place reserved for special occassions only.
In addition there is the stunning Fisherman's Lodge, an exclusive fish restaurant, which has won prizes galore, located in the heart of the Dene and also easily accessible by road. I was lucky enough to have been taken for my five year anniversary last year. It was amazing, probably the best restaurant I've ever been to, although VERY pricey. If you want to read more about the Fisherman's Lodge please read my other review 'The Best Restaurant in the North East' for further information or see http://www.fishermanslodge.co.uk/
For a list of events going on in the Dene see the following webpage http://www.newcastle.gov.uk/cw_rang.nsf/a/jesmonddeneevents?opendocument
In the past there have been open-air shakespere plays performed on Summer evenings and there are many kids and family events year round.
I love the Dene. I can get to it easily and quickly from where I live and it is a great place to take a walk at the weekend any time of the year, or a stroll of a Summer evening. The dene is rarely crowded, although you'll find dogwalkers and joggers there year round and it can get really busy on really nice days, with families and picnicers aplenty.
The dene is suitable for everyone old or young. On the whole it is accessible for the disabled, there are some steep steps in parts but for the most part the lower slopes are well maintained. The Dene is also generally well kept and respected by the public, so litter and grafetti free for the most part.
So if you do find yourself this far up North check out the Dene. You may well be impressed with this, one of Newcastle's hidden gems!