Tyne Riverside Country Park lies on the outer west edge of Newcastle, close to Newburn and the river Tyne. It is easily reached by bus from town (no’s 21 and 22 from the Central Station), by bike along Hadrian’s Way, or if you are coming by car, it is signposted from the A6085 and the A695. There is ample free car parking available, including spaces reserved for the disabled.
Tyne Riverside Country Park
Newcastle upon Tyne
Phone: 0191 264 8501
The park covers about 60 hectares, and features a riverside picnic area, an equipped children’s play area, a visitor centre and toilets, which are open daily between 9am and 5pm throughout the summer, and most days during the winter.
There are miles of footpaths and bridleway that allow you to explore on the park on foot, bike or horseback. The landscape features agricultural land, woodland, grasslands and a large pond, the Reigh (pronounced Reeth). This pond, and the woodland beside it, are managed by Newcastle City Council as a nature reserve, and provide a home for many creatures, such as red squirrels and kingfishers.
The river views are very pleasant at any time of year. The Wylam Waggonway, which runs parallel to the riverside footpath, is a popular way for cyclists to explore the Tyne Valley.
As much of the area near the river is flat with surfaced paths, access for wheelchair users is quite good. The Rangers can give more detailed advice on suitable routes.
The visitor centre is open on weekend afternoons and at varying times depending on the rangers availability to staff the centre. The Rangers will be happy to advise you on possible routes around the Country Park and the surrounding countryside. Leaflets and maps showing circular walks are available from the visitor centre.
In the late 70's and early 80's, the park was developed by Tyne and Wear County Council from derelict former industrial land; this is hard to believe today, as it has been completely transformed. Much of the land that is now the Park was part of a former coal mine, the Isabella Colliery, owned by the Throckley Coal Company. Although few physical reminders of the mining past remain, the concrete cap covering the main pit shaft can be seen in a grazing field and four former coke ovens have been preserved. Other clues can be found in the landscape - pit shale lines the banks of the Reigh pond, and minewater escaping from the old workings discolours the Reigh burn, turning it orange until it is naturally filtered by reeds before entering the Tyne. Other industries in the area included Newburn Steelworks, which was responsible for the rapid expansion of Newburn village in the 19th century, and the railway. George Stephenson was married in Newburn Church, and his former cottage can be seen on a pleasant walk along the Waggonway to Wylam, which is 2 miles away. Further back in the past, Newburn was the site of an important battle between the English and the Scots across the ford in 1640. The Scots won, and later went on to take Newcastle. Visitors are unable to make use of the ford nowadays, as the shape of the river was altered by the Tyne Improvement Commission to remove obstructions to shipping.
A history trail leaflet is available from the visitor centre.
Although there is no guarantee that you will see any of these wild (and rather shy!) animals, if you are lucky your visit to the Park may include a sighting of the following mammals: otter, grey seal, red squirrel, roe deer, fox, weasel, water shrew and wood mouse. More easily seen are the birds. On the river, you can expect to see cormorant, goosander, common tern, goldeneye and grey heron, while at the pond you may see coot, mallard, moorhen or if you are very lucky, a water rail. Plant lovers may find alpine pennycress, smith’s pepperwort, whorled water millfoil, and the rare dune helleborine. There are many species of insect to be seen, including the spectacular southern hawker dragonfly, mining bees, pond creatures such as water scorpion and butterflies such as wall brown, meadow brown, small copper, common blue, small heath, small skipper, large skipper and the scarce dingy skipper.
The Rangers organise regular public events such as guided walks on a variety of wildlife and history topics, and family events such as Apple Day, Family Pond Dipping and Halloween lantern making. They can also organise activities for schools and other visiting groups, and run a volunteer ranger group on Fridays, carrying out conservation work and minor maintenance tasks. The Park has its own user group, the Friends of Tyne Riverside Country Park, who help to decide how the Park is managed, fundraise and organise events. New members are always welcome!
If you are interested in any of these events or activities, please contact the Rangers for further information.
Go to the Battle of Newburn website to find out more about the Battle Re-enactment Weekend on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th September 2011.
Page last updated: 26 July, 2012