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Escaping the city!
Jesmond Dene (Newcastle upon Tyne, England)
Member Name: anwar7
Jesmond Dene (Newcastle upon Tyne, England)
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!
Summary: Wooded valley near Newcastle
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