“ 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. „
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Jesmond Dene is a narrow wooded valley (known as a Dene) just 1 mile to the east of Newcastle city centre. Despite its close proximity to the city, it feels like you are in a truly rural location. The Dene is just over 3 KM in length and has numerous paths to explore. It is easy to get to, free to enter and has something for everyone.
Jesmond Dene runs from Benton bank to South Gosforth and is maintained by Newcastle city council. The land was bought along with Jesmond towers mansion by lord and Lady Armstrong in the 1850's. Lord Armstrong landscaped the valley laying paths, building bridges and creating waterfalls. Lord Armstrong also owned Craigside near Rothbury, and decided to give the park to the city to allow public access. The park was formally opened to the public in 1884.
Jesmond Dene can be accessed by car or public transport. There is limited parking just off the Ouseburn road. There are 4 disabled parking bays available including 2 outside Millfield house.
The Dene is situated just off the A1058 coast road and is well signposted with brown signs. There is limited free parking.
There are several buses that run from Newcastle including the 305,306,307 and 308. All run from the Haymarket in Newcastle city centre. You will need to get off at Cradlewell/Jesmond road. The main entrance is just a few minutes walk from the bus stop. There is also a bus that runs from the monument in the city centre to Jesmond road and the Freeman hospital. The bus allows access to the northern end of The Dene known as Paddy Freeman Lake.
The nearest metro station is at South Gosforth. From the station it is about a 20 minute walk to the Dene entrance.
Whats on offer?
I would advise that you arrive via the main entrance and head for the newly refurbished Millfield house and the visitor centre. Millfield house has a ranger information service, conference centre, café and toilets. Next to Millfield house is the new visitor centre where you will find interactive displays explaining the history and geology of the Dene. There are maps available in addition to leaflets telling you about the floral and fauna that you might see in the Dene.
If you have children then the pet's corner, also newly refurbished, is a must! It is free to enter and has a variety of animals to see. There are goats, rabbits, parrots, pot bellied pigs and numerous exotic birds to see in the walk through aviary. There is a picnic area near to the pet's corner with benches provided. Pet's corner can get very busy at weekends and during school holidays. However if the crowds get too much then there are numerous paths to explore.
The Ouseburn runs through the middle of Jesmond Dene and the area was once the site of several water mills that were powered by the burn. One can still be seen by the main waterfall. The burn was also once used to power an organ installed by Lord Armstrong. The Dene is also the home of the ruined 12th century Saint Mary's chapel. It is well worth taking a walk to the impressive Armstrong Bridge.
If you enjoy looking at plants and trees then you will really enjoy the mix of native and exotic species on view. The Dene has some beautiful Rhododendrons too. I love looking for wildlife and in particular the elusive red squirrel. Red squirrels used to be a common sight in the Dene until comparatively recently. However I haven't seen any for a few months now, but you might be lucky! I have seen kingfishers, tree creepers and tits to name a few. There are lots of ducks, and sometimes swans on the lake so bring some stale bread to feed them!
At the northern end of the Dene is the Paddy Freeman boating lake and play area. There is also a small café that opens at weekends and school holidays periods. The northern end of the Dene tends to attract fewer visitors and is a good place to picnic. The northern end of the Dene can also be accessed via the Freeman Road.
Jesmond Dene has several options for eating. There is the very reasonably priced café next to the visitor centre that serves light refreshments, or at weekends you could try the small café at the north end next to the boating lake. If money is no object then there is the highly rated Fisherman's lodge restaurant or the Jesmond Dene hotel. I have never eaten in either so can't comment. However I do know that both restaurants have won awards .I always prefer to bring a picnic even in the winter!
Jesmond Dene is accessible to all with many level paths that are suitable for both wheelchairs and pushchairs However access between the lower and upper paths can be quite steep and may not be suitable for everyone. The steep paths can be very slippery in the winter with ice too! Dogs are allowed, although they are not permitted to enter the pet's corner. There are toilets situated at the visitor centre at the northern end of the Dene. There are toilets available visitors who have a disability. I can't recall seeing any baby changing facilities however. The Dene is open all year and is completely free!
Overall I can highly recommend Jesmond Dene; it is a wonderful place to find some solitude and has something for everyone!
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!