Country parks, visitor centres & coastal sites

Country parks, visitor centres & coastal sites

The council owns and manages a number of popular countryside recreation sites and coastal sites throughout the county.

Country parks

The country parks of Northumberland vary greatly in their size and character. They include open coast, valley woodlands, lakes and grassland. Each site provides for the recreational needs of local communities, as well as drawing visitors from across the county and further afield.

Several of the sites offer coastal beauty spots, picnic sites and viewpoints.

The council also manages a section of the former railway line between Alston and Haltwhistle known as the South Tyne Trail.

This provides a route for walkers, riders and cyclists to enjoy some of the finest North Pennine scenery.

Access to open country
Large areas of Northumberland's uplands, together with areas of registered common land, have been designated as access land. This means that the public have a free right of access by foot on this land and are not required to remain on public rights of way.

The right of access includes the right to take dogs onto the land but between 1 March and 31 July, and at any time in the vicinity of livestock, dogs should be kept on a lead. The right to take a dog onto grouse moors can also be restricted throughout the year. When entering access land, take note of any signs giving information about restrictions. Access land across the county is mapped on the updated Ordnance Survey Explorer Series maps.

Look out for the marking symbols that show when you are entering or leaving access land.

Druridge Bay Country Park & visitor centre

Druridge Bay Country Park can be found off the A1068, three miles south of Amble.

Take the turning opposite the Hadston junction. You can park by the lake or follow the road to the main car park at the visitor centre.

The beach, visitor centre (and toilets), and the children’s play areas are all a short walk from the main car park.

PLEASE NOTE - SUNDAY OCT 8 2017

On Sunday 8 October a regional cross country running event will be held at the park organsied by Blyth Harriers.  The park will remain open to visitors as normal and (subject to favourable weather conditions) a kite display will also be taking place at the park on both Saturday and Sunday.  
 
Drivers of runners vehicles will be asked for a £2 contribution by the harriers volunteers when entering the park to cover the running costs of the event. Other park visitors are not required to pay this contribution.'
 

About Druridge Bay Country Park
Family of four building a sandcastleThe park comprises three miles of beautiful beach and sand dunes, plus a large freshwater lake surrounded by woods and meadows. The variety of surroundings means you are sure to enjoy your visit whatever the time of year.

Ladyburn Lake is available for launching windsurfers and non-motorised boats (by permit), and sailing, windsurfing and canoeing courses are available. Enjoy watching birds on the lake and seashore, or discover wild flowers on the dunes. Picnic areas with tables are provided near the lake and visitor centre.

The Northumberland coastal cycle route runs through the park, and it offers an opportunity for cyclists to take a break in the café. The park is also a good base from which to explore the surrounding area by bike.

A range of leaflets and local information is available from the visitor centre, including self-guided trails around the country park and maps of the orienteering course.

Druridge Bay is dog-friendly, but please pick up after your dog and keep on a lead when near to horses or children playing in the area.

The bay is a great place to ride, but horse riders are to walk their horses when near other visitors, and to be aware of children at all times.

Overnight camping is allowed with permission, and we offer camping facilities for organised groups. We discourage the use of disposable barbecues due to previous damage caused to the park. If you are interested in putting on an event then email druridgebay@northumberland.org.uk
Ladyburn Lake
A photo of Ladyburn lakeSwimming is allowed in the lake but swimmers should use wet suits and always swim in pairs for safety. We also advise swimmers to use hi-visibility floats so they can be easily seen by other lake users.

Other activities allowed on the lake are sailing, canoeing and windsurfing, by permit only, from April to the end of October. We work in partnership with the Coquet Shorebase Trust, which offers training facilities in water sports.  In autumn and winter many birds use the lake for roosting and feeding and no water sports take place.
The current charges for water sports permits are:
  • Day: £4 per child, £6 per adult, £12 per family.
  • Season: £30 per child, £40 per adult, £60 per family.
Email the park or call at the visitor centre for information on permits.
No fishing is allowed on the lake.
Druridge Bay Country Park visitor centre
Druridge Bay Country Park visitor centreThe visitor centre has information about the local area, and a café and shop which is open at weekends and during school holidays.

The ground floor is accessible to wheelchairs. A children’s play area next to the visitor centre ensures there is something at the park for all age groups.

Well-surfaced paths lead around the south shore of the lake and to the beach. The park is popular for group days out, so please let us know if you are bringing a large party.

Nearby is a children's play area outside the visitor centre and a small obstacle course for the young at heart of all ages.

No dogs are allowed in the visitor centre other than guide dogs.
Druridge Park opening times
The toilets and information area are open daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

The café, shop and display rooms are open daily from 11am to 3.30pm between April and September, weekends and bank holidays. The café opens 10am to 4.30pm and all school holidays throughout the year.

The park gates are open to vehicles during daylight hours. There is no charge for parking. You are advised not to leave any valuables in your car. No overnight camping is allowed without consent.
Druridge Bay public transport
Druridge Park safety information
Emergency phones (999 calls only for police, ambulance, fire or coastguard) are located on the outside of the visitor centre and at Togston Links.

There is no lifeguard cover on the sea or lake, so please take care. The dunes may be unstable in places due to erosion, and wartime debris such as barbed wire may be exposed:
  • Do not jump or slide down the dunes.
  • Do not dig or tunnel into the dunes.
  • Children should be supervised at all times.
Druridge Bay contact information
Druridge Bay Country Park, Red Row, Northumberland, NE61 5BX
Email: druridgebay@northumberland.gov.uk
Telephone: 01670 760968

Tyne Riverside Country Park

Tyne Riverside Country Park follows the River Tyne for four miles through 200 acres of meadows, chalk grassland, woodland and river bank - all within easy reach of the urban areas of Northumberland and a short distance from Newcastle and Gateshead.

About Tyne Riverside Country Park
A kayak group having fun on the river TyneTyne Riverside Country Park Centre is located at Low Prudhoe on the banks of the river Tyne near Prudhoe railway station. The park centre provides public toilets.Facilities include picnic benches, a young children’s play area and canoe launch area.

Explore the park on foot or bicycle along Hadrian’s Cycleway or Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail, or by following one of the many other paths and trails through the park. Take part in other activities including fishing, horse riding, canoeing, orienteering, wildlife watching and exploring the remains of our industrial heritage. Or perhaps you’d prefer to relax by the river and enjoy the view.

The fishing rights along this stretch of the river are private. Further details can be obtained from the Northumbrian Anglers' Federation.
Tyne Riverside - information for dog owners
The park is a great place for walking dogs, but walkers are encouraged to keep dogs under control and to be considerate towards other park users by clearing away dog faeces into the bins provided. If walking dogs near the park boundary or on the rights of way outside the park, extra care should be taken to keep dogs under close control to avoid worrying farm stock.
The Spetchells
The Spetchells are chalk waste heaps from a chemical factory that operated on a nearby site until the mid-1960s. The name comes from old maps that refer to this area of land as the ‘spetchells’.

Although the heaps are not natural, they now provide Northumberland's largest area of chalk grassland habitat. The wide range of flowers attracts many species of common and, occasionally, rare butterflies.
Hagg Bank Bridge
Hagg Bank Bridge, Wylam on the river TyneHagg Bank Bridge near Wylam was built in 1876. It was the first railway bridge to cross the Tyne in a single span, with a deck that was supported by a wrought iron arch. The last train crossed the bridge in 1968.

Hagg Bank Bridge is now part of the country park and was restored to its original colours in 1997, with financial help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Tyne Riverside water safety
  • Kayak sport racingSwimming in the river is not advisable as the water is cold and the flow can change rapidly.
  • Always wear British Standard buoyancy aids or life jackets when boating.
  • Note the location of the lifebelt before going on the water.
  • Keep away from the river when it is in flood.
Tyne Riverside public transport
The country park is a short walk from Wylam and Prudhoe train stations and Tyne Valley bus routes.

To find out how to get there by public transport, view bus company information here.
Tyne Riverside contact information

County Hall: 0345 600 6400

Queen Elizabeth II Country Park

QE II Country Park is located on the north edge of Ashington, between the A197 and the A189, with the main car park off the A189.

It is popular for walking, dog walking, picnics and jogging, as well as activities on the lake such as windsurfing, canoeing and coarse fishing. 

The main feature of the park is the 16-hectare lake surrounded by developing woodland and open grassland.

Overview of Queen Elizabeth II Country Park
The site can be accessed by footpath or by the Coast and Castles Cycle route out of Ashington, or from Woodhorn Colliery Museum. Tarmac paths and cut grass paths on the eastern side of the park allow good access around the lake. A small narrow gauge railway runs from the car park, through the country park to Woodhorn, which is operated by volunteers in the summer months.

The diverse and developing habitats around the lake now host a variety of birds, plants and mammals, and the lake itself is host to both resident and migratory birds.

For information about fishing permits and lake use permits, please visit the Wansbeck and Cramlington Angling Club website. Accessible fishing platforms by the lake make the site suitable for fishing for the less able, including wheelchair users.

The lake is used during the spring and summer for organised open water swimming training and events. Swimming by individuals is not encouraged.
History of Queen Elizabeth II Country Park

Woodhorn Colliery was established in 1894 by Ashington Coal Company and produced its first coal in 1901. The colliery started to decline in the 1960s and closed in 1981. The old colliery buildings were turned into a museum in 1989, after the country park was developed.

The QEII Country Park is an excellent example of restored industrial land, as the site was once one of the biggest colliery spoil heaps in Europe, and the adjacent North Ashington Wood was the other.

Getting to Queen Elizabeth II Country Park
QEII Country Park contact information

Tyne Green Country Park, Hexham

Tyne Green is located on the south bank of the River Tyne, just off the A69 on the road into Hexham.

The park covers a 19-hectare site which includes a golf course and greens. The land was presented to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887 by Lord Allendale for the leisure of the local people. It was set out with public walks between avenues of trees and became very popular with the people of Hexham.

About Tyne Green Country Park
Tyne Green was designated a country park in 1982 and the facilities have expanded over the years to include a golf course and club house, play area and water sports centre. The park and river provides wildlife habitats to many species, and the River Tyne is a great place for wintering birds like goosander, goldeneye and teal.

There is no visitor centre but there are public toilets on site. Café Enna at Tynedale Golf Club is open to the public for food and refreshments.

There is a recently redesigned children's play area in the central part of the park, which is managed and owned by Hexham Town Council.

There are several sporting clubs based at Tyne Green: For more information on their activities, please visit their websites. In addition to these clubs, Tyne Tour is held here each November.
 
Fishing permits are available from the Tourist Information Centre in Hexham. For more information, click here.

No overnight camping is allowed, except in specific circumstances as part of a larger organised event, such as the regatta or Tyne Tour canoe event.
Public transport to Tyne Green Country Park
Car parking at Tyne Green Country Park

It is free to park in the Tyne Green car park. You are advised not to leave any valuables in your car.

Visitors are respectfully asked to keep their cars within the outlined car parking areas and not to drive on the green itself.

Tyne Green safety information

The River Tyne is wide, fast and, in places, deep. Swimming in the river is not advised unless it is as part of an organised group of experienced swimmers. Throw-lines and lifebelts are located at intervals along the riverside.

Please do not try to walk along the weir, which is the barrier across the river.

Tyne Green contact information

All organised events must be booked with Northumberland County Council's green spaces officer to prevent clashes and to regulate the activities provided.

Telephone: 0345 600 6400

Bedlington Country Park Local Nature Reserve

Bedlington Country Park covers approximately 57 hectares of woodland and grassland on the north banks of River Blyth.

The park is a steep sloping, natural wooded valley which runs from the old Bedlington iron works site at Furnace Bridge in the east, through Attlee Park at the bottom of Bedlington Bank, beside Bedlington Bridge and the A193 road, west towards Humford Mill and Hartford Hall.

Overview of Bedlington Country Park Local Nature Reserve

Bedlington woods showing wild garlicThe area has long been a popular area for informal recreation over many decades until 1984, when the country park was created to protect the unique nature of the area. In 2006 Local Nature Reserve status was gained.

The country park can be reached by bus, which stops at Hartford Hall, Bedlington Front Street and beside The Bank Top public house (Bedlington Station).

There are three car parks within the site, at Furnace Bridge, at the bottom of Bedlington Bank, Attlee Park, and at Humford Mill. Pedestrian access is also available from Spring Park Road, Church Lane (leads to Humford Mill) and Hartford Hall. The Humford Mill area has a small children's play area and picnic benches.

History of Bedlington Country Park Local Nature Reserve

The earliest industrial use of the valley was for the quarrying of sandstone. These quarries are now filled and hidden by trees.

The largest and most important industrial site was the Bedlington iron and engine works (1736-1867). Locomotives were manufactured at the works, and the first passenger train to leave Kings Cross was hauled by a Bedlington loco, as were the first trains in Holland and Italy.

The area to the west of Furnace Bridge and north of the river is known as Free Wood as you didn’t have to pay to walk through the wood, unlike the south side of the river which is still known as Ha'penny Wood.

The large grass area beside Bedlington bridge is known as Attlee Park, and was named after Clement Richard Attlee, Labour Party leader from 1935 to 1955 and Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951. For many years the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic was held here.

Further upstream is Humford Mill, where you can cross the river by stepping stones when the water level is low. After the pumping station went out of use, the site was used as an open air swimming pool.

At the west end of the country park stands Hartford Hall. The hall was first built in 1807 and later rebuilt into a Victorian mansion in the 1870s. In 1944 the hall was converted into a miners’ rehabilitation centre. The hall and its grounds are not part of the country park.

Wildlife in Bedlington Country Park Local Nature Reserve

If you are lucky, you may spot a red squirrel, bank vole, fox or roe deer. On a summer evening, bats can also be seen.

On the river you might see mallards, moorhen, heron or the bright blue flash of the kingfisher. In the rest of the park you may see or hear a blue tit, chiffchaff, great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch or robin.

Plant lovers may find red campion, primrose, forget-me-not, foxglove, orchids, meadow crane's-bill and yarrow. Most of the woodland within the western half of the site is listed as ancient semi-natural woodland and is of significant national importance.

There are many species of insect to be seen: the common hawker dragonfly, seven-spot ladybirds, wall brown & meadow brown butterflies.

Bedlington Country Park Local Nature Reserve - contact us

Wansbeck Riverside Park

Wansbeck Riverside Park covers around 112 hectares of woodland, grassland and the river and is located to the south of Ashington, between the A1068 and A189.

The park is a popular area for activities such as walking, bird watching and picnicking, as well as organised activities such as rowing and fishing. In 2003, Castle Island gained status as a Local Nature Reserve and Wansbeck Riverside Park gained Local Nature Reserve status in 2007.

About Wansbeck Riverside Park

There are car parks located at Blackclose Dene (just off Stakeford Bridge, A196 heading north to Ashington) and the main car park off the Wellhead Dene road (accessed from the A1068 - Sheepwash road).

You may spot a red squirrel, bank vole, fox, or roe deer. On a summer evening, bats can also be seen. On the river you might see a mallard, moorhen, heron or the bright blue flash of the kingfisher. In the rest of the park, you may see or hear a blue tit, chiffchaff, great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch or robin.

In the spring and summer, plant lovers may find red campion, primrose, forget-me-not, foxglove, orchids, meadow crane's-bill and yarrow. The area of woodland at Blackclose Dene is listed as ancient semi-natural woodland and is of significant national importance. Within the woodlands are species of scots pine, oak, elder, ash and sycamore. New woodland has been planted on the south side of the river at Stakeford.

History of Wansbeck Riverside Park

Areas in Wansbeck Riverside Park have been used for quarrying sandstone, coal mining, as a limekiln and a blacksmith forge. One of the early river crossing points was Stakeford, a fording point only available when the tide was out. Now the Stakeford Bridge stands at this location.

In more recent times, the eroding riverbanks have been reinforced by wire gabions (wire cages filled with stone) and back filled, providing large grass areas on both banks. At the river a barrage was installed, making areas of the river available to be used for water activities.

Fishing permits in Wansbeck Riverside Park
Fishing permits can be obtained from the council's customer services point at Wansbeck Square, Station Road, Ashington.

Fishing Permit Price List 2017

Please note a permit cannot be issued without a valid Environment Agency Rod Licence being seen.
 
Season Permit
 
Season Coarse fish and Brown Trout
Adult £23.75  
Junior £12.66
Concession £12.66
(with proof of DLA, Attendance Allowance, PIP, Pension Guarantee Credit or Pension Credit)
 
 
Season Wansbeck Angling Club
Coarse fish and Brown Trout
Adult £11.95 (with valid Angling club members card)

Season Salmon, Coarse fish and Brown Trout
Adult £77.95
Junior £41.60
Concessions £41.60
(with proof of DLA, Attendance Allowance, PIP, Pension Guarantee Credit or Pension Credit)
 
 
Weekly Permit
 
Week Coarse fish and Brown Trout
Adult £15.57
Junior £8.30                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Concessions £8.30
(with proof of DLA, Attendance Allowance, PIP, Pension Guarantee Credit or Pension Credit)
 
 
 
Week Salmon, Coarse fish and Brown Trout
Adult £51.12
Junior £27.28
Concession £27.28
(with proof of DLA, Attendance Allowance, PIP, Pension Guarantee Credit or Pension Credit)

Day Permit
 
Day Coarse fish and Brown Trout
Adult £8.90
Junior £4.75
Concession £4.75
(with proof of DLA, Attendance Allowance, PIP, Pension Guarantee Credit or Pension Credit)
 
 
Day Salmon, Coarse fish and Brown Trout
Adult £29.21
Junior £15.95
Concession  £15.95
(with proof of DLA, Attendance Allowance, PIP, Pension Guarantee Credit or Pension Credit)
 
Public transport to Wansbeck Riverside Park
Wansbeck Riverside Park - contact information
For further information or to report any incidents please contact the county council on 0345 600 6400.

Plessey Woods Country Park & visitor centre

Plessey Woods Country Park is located near Hartford Bridge, off the A192, mid-way between Bedlington and Cramlington and about five miles south of Morpeth.

People have come to Plessey Woods for generations to enjoy the woods and the river. Known locally as Bluebell Woods, the country park is an ideal place for a family day out with great opportunities for getting close to nature.

About Plessey Woods Country Park

Plessey woods visitor centreThe park offers 100 acres of woodland, meadow and riverside to explore. The woodland is home to many birds, such as the great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and tree creeper, as well as animals including the red squirrel, roe deer and fox. The banks of the River Blyth are also an important habitat for wildlife, such as kingfishers, dippers and otters.

Fishing is allowed on the river by permit and is controlled and administered by the Bedlington and Blagdon Angling Association. Details are available from the visitor centre.

Enjoy a scenic riverside walk or take a path deep into the woodland, learning more about the park as you go by following one of our self-guided trails.

Only organised groups such as guides and scouts are allowed to camp in the country park. Bookings should be made in advance.

Exploring Plessey Woods Country Park
Cows standing in a fieldA full circuit of the park is about 1½ miles (2.5km) and includes some steep steps and grassy paths. Surfaced paths suitable for pushchairs run from the visitor centre through the woods to the river. There is no public vehicle access to the riverside.

Horse riders and cyclists can use bridleways within the park. However, off-path riding or mountain biking is not allowed.

The park is a great place for walking dogs but dog walkers are encouraged to keep dogs under control and to be considerate towards other park users by clearing away dog faeces into the bins provided. If walking dogs near the park boundary or on the rights of way outside the park, extra care should be taken to keep dogs under close control to avoid worrying farm stock.

Picnic areas with tables are provided near the visitor centre and throughout the park. Barbecues may be used in picnic areas, but please remove all remains and don't scorch the grass or tables.

Visits from educational or social groups are welcome but unfortunately staff time is not normally available for guided visits. If you intend to bring a large group or may require special arrangements or facilities, please phone first.

A permanent orienteering course exists in the park. Why not give this exciting outdoor pursuit a try? Maps and guidance notes are available at the visitor centre.
Plessey Woods visitor centre

Plessey woods house visitor centre closerThe visitor centre and café is open is open from 10.30am-4pm on Saturdays, Sundays, bank holidays (apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day) and school holidays, all year round. It's a great place to start and end your visit.

Staff are on hand at busy periods to help you make the most of your visit. An assortment of books, maps and gifts are available, as well as a cup of tea and light snack in the café.

A range of leaflets and local information is available, including three self-guided trails around the country park and maps of the orienteering course.

There is a children's play area near the visitor centre. The toilets are open from dawn to dusk every day.

Public transport to Plessey Woods
Plessey Woods - information for visitors with disabilities

Easy gradients provide access into the visitor centre, which is on the ground floor, and a disabled toilet and parking space is provided.

A wide, firm path leads from the car park through the woods and along the riverside, although steep gradients mean that access by wheelchair can be difficult. There are seats around the park.

Car parking at Plessey Woods

The park gates are open to vehicles during daylight hours and parking is free of charge. You are advised not to leave any valuables in your car.

Please ensure you remove your car in the evening by the closure time stated on the signs.

Plessey Wood - countryside classroom
Trees at Plessey WoodsMany educational visits are made to the park throughout the year. It’s an ideal place to learn about everything from woodlice to willows. Staff are available to help teachers and group leaders plan a visit. Bookings for assisted visits should be made in advance.
Plessey Wood safety information
Plessey Banks on the south side of the River Blyth is managed as a nature sanctuary. This area is unsuitable for visitors due to unstable steep shale banks and old, uncharted mine shafts.

The River Blyth is a clean river but the rock shelves on the river bed can be very slippery. Swimming and paddling in the river is not recommended.
Out and about beyond Plessey Woods
Public rights of way link Plessey Woods with the surrounding countryside (see Ordnance Survey Explorer maps numbers 325 and 316). Bedlington Country Park, also managed by the county council, is next door to Plessey Woods. It’s accessible via the signposted footpath east of Plessey Woods, off the A1068 Bedlington road.
Plessey Woods - contact information
Plessey Woods Country Park
Shields Road
Plessey, Nr Bedlington
Northumberland
NE22 6HZ

Bolam Lake Country Park & visitor centre

Bolam Lake Country Park lies about nine miles west of Morpeth and is signposted off the A696 from Belsay.

It’s situated in the heart of the beautiful Northumberland countryside, surrounded by historic landscapes and dramatic views. It has lakeside, woodland and open grassed areas for all to enjoy, with the attractive lakeside walk being accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

 

About Bolam Lake Country Park
Swans on Bolam lakeFor many years, Bolam Lake has been a popular place for a day in the countryside. Take a leisurely stroll around the lake or explore the woodland. Bring a picnic and enjoy a summer's day with the family or explore and discover the wildlife which makes Bolam Lake so special. Red squirrels, roe deer, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches have been spotted in the area.

You'll find a number of picnic tables in the main picnic area. The best access to the Pheasant Field is from West Wood car park. Please take your rubbish and your barbecue home with you and do not scorch the grass or wooden surfaces.

A permanent orienteering course exists in the park. Why not give this exciting outdoor pursuit a try? Maps and guidance notes are available at the visitor centre.

Bolam is an ideal place for educational visits and recreational groups, although staff time is not normally available to assist groups directly. If you intend to bring a large group, please inform the staff in advance.

The Bolam Lake friends group are dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the park.  You can find further information about the friends group here.
 
No overnight camping is allowed.
Bolam Lake
The lake is not suitable for swimming due to submerged hazards and deep mud. The lake is suitable for rigid canoes but sailing, motorised and inflatable craft are not allowed. Organised canoeing groups must book their visit and obtain a permit from the visitor centre in advance.

The best access to the lake for canoes is from Low House Wood car park. Boats are not allowed in the nature sanctuary or to land on the islands. Canoeing is not allowed from 15 March to 15 June inclusive.

Fishing for pike and perch is allowed but anglers must have a rod licence and obtain a permit from the shop in Belsay. There is no fishing from boats or in the nature sanctuary. There is a closed season from 15 March to 15 June inclusive.

Night fishing is not permitted.
Public transport to Bolam Lake
Bolam Lake visitor centre
Inside the Bolam Lake Café at the visitor centreThe visitor centre has a café, shop and information area. The café sells a range of hot and cold refreshments, including soup, cakes and sweets. The shop has local information and sells a range of gifts, books and maps.

The visitor centre and café are open from 10.30am-4pm at weekends, bank holidays and school holidays from Easter to November. From December to Easter it is open from 10.30am but closes earlier at weekends and during school holidays. It is fully accessible.

Toilets are located in the Boathouse Wood car park next to the visitor centre and are open daily.
Car parking at Bolam Lake
The three car parks are open during daylight hours and locked at dusk and are free of charge. Each car park has disabled parking bays. You are advised not to leave valuables in your vehicle.

Please ensure that your vehicle is removed from the car park by the closing time stated on the car park notices.
Getting around Bolam Lake
A ballet of swans at the lakeFeel free to explore the park on foot, but please respect boundaries and don't climb fences. The lakeside path is surfaced and suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, for which the circuit of the lake is best done in an anti-clockwise direction and is approximately 3/4 mile long.

Horse riders and cyclists: please use only the marked bridleway and give way to walkers.

The park is a great place for walking dogs but dog walkers are encouraged to keep dogs under control and to be considerate towards other park users by clearing away dog faeces into the bins provided.

If walking dogs near the park boundary or on the rights of way outside the park, extra care should be taken to keep dogs under close control to avoid worrying farm stock.

Please respect the breeding season (spring and early summer) on the lake by keeping dogs under control near waterfowl.
Bolam Lake - safety information
  • Life buoys and throw lines are positioned around the lake.
  • In winter, do not walk on the frozen lake surface.
Out and about beyond Bolam Lake
A good network of public rights of way around the park offers half or full day circular walks. Our series of self-guided trails are on sale from the visitor centre. Large walking groups are requested not to park in Boathouse Wood car park, especially at weekends and during the summer months.
Bolam Lake - contact information

Blyth & Seaton Sluice links and foreshore

Located between Blyth and the county boundary at Seaton Sluice, the bays, links and foreshore offer something for everyone who wants to visit the beautiful Northumberland coast.

With 5km of golden sand, dunes and rock pools to explore, there’s a chance to spot some spectacular wildlife along the coastline.

About Blyth and Seaton Sluice links and foreshore
The dune system between Blyth and Seaton Sluice is a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and is recognised nationally for its diverse plant species. The dunes attract many migrant birds both in spring and autumn and have good communities of reptiles and invertebrates that are regionally and nationally important.

Access through the dunes is via a well surfaced track, which is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies. Horses are not allowed on the track or dune system but there is horse access across the track to the beach at The Ranch car park and at Fountain Head.

No motorised vehicles are allowed on the dunes or the beach and no camping or overnight parking is allowed on the beach, dunes or any of the links car parks.

The dune system is fragile and visitors are asked to respect the wildlife and especially the dune faces. Damage to the vegetation and the dune face can quickly escalate and threaten the integrity of the dunes, which are our first line of sea defence.

Five car parks serve the area: two at Seaton Sluice, two at Blyth and one on the coast road in between. The three larger car parks all have public toilet facilities.

No fires or barbecues are allowed on the dunes. Barbecues may be used on the beach with the coastal warden’s permission and there is a permit system in place for organised barbecues. Contact the coastal warden for more information.
Blyth & Seaton Sluice - group & educational visits
Visits from social and community groups are welcome, but staff time is not normally available to guide visits without prior special arrangements. If you intend to bring a large group, you may require arranged use of facilities, so please phone first.

Many educational visits are made to the area each year. A range of activities are available for many age groups. A small charge is made for accompanied school visits.
Blyth & Seaton Sluice - water sports, boating & recreation
Blyth beach hutsThe Blyth Personal Watercraft (Jet Ski) club operates the launch facility for members at the north end of the promenade. Surfing and sea kayaking are popular in the bay, with the Blyth Kayak Club based in the old engine house part of the wartime structures. Kite surfers are encouraged to launch from the beach behind The Ranch car park, away from the main bathing areas and powered craft. Boats may be launched from Seaton Sluice Harbour with a permit. The harbour has some mooring facilities, although it is restricted by its tidal nature.
Blyth & Seaton Sluice - local attractions
Blyth Battery Museum is a scheduled ancient monument consisting of the most complete set of First World War coastal defence structures left on the coast of Great Britain. There is a tea room and museum and several of the buildings are open to the public on weekends during the summer. The museum is open from Easter to the end of October, weekends and occasional days. Entry is free. Group and school visits can be booked with Blyth Battery volunteers on the Blyth Battery website or by calling 07881462284.

The Watch House Museum at Seaton Sluice is on Rocky Island, accessible via a footbridge in front of the King’s Arms. It is the old Seaton Sluice volunteer lifesaving brigade’s watch house and tells the story of their daring rescues on the local coast.

Both museums are run by volunteer groups and have seasonal opening hours with organised walks and events during the summer.
Blyth & Seaton Sluice - safety information and accessibility
The three toilet blocks on the links all have disabled toilet facilities, accessed with a Radar key. The surfaced dunes track and promenade are accessible to wheelchair users and there are numerous seats along the walkways.

The Blyth lifeguard and swimming club operate a beach lifeguard service during the summer from the Dave Stevens Centre, a purpose built facility at Blyth south beach. The club cover the whole bay and provide lifeguards at weekends only. There are lifebuoys and other public rescue equipment along the coast.

Wear something on your feet when you go into the sea and wear sun block or cover up.

Don’t leave your litter behind. Follow the seaside code:
  • leave only footprints
  • take only pictures
  • keep only memories
  • waste nothing but time
Blyth & Seaton Sluice - contact us
Contact the coastal warden:

Tel: 01670 797323
Mobile: 07932440838

The warden is based in Fort House Education Resource Centre, South Beach, Blyth, NE24 3PL.

Postal address:
Countryside Access and Recreation Team
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
NE61 2EF
 

Newbiggin Bay & promenade

Located east of Ashington, Newbiggin Bay is a beautiful sandy coastal site nestled into a 1.5km bay.

Shops and cafés can be found close by in the village and the promenade offers a sheltered walk with views along the bay.

About Newbiggin Bay and promenade
The beach within Newbiggin Bay has had a sand recharge as it was discovered that prevailing currents were removing sand from the bay. There is a seasonal beach ban on part of the bay for dogs, with signage on site.

Each end of the bay provides a chance for rock pooling and, occasionally, seals can be spotted on the rocks.

On-street parking can be found on the village main street, as well as limited off street parking. The main car park is at Church Point, with the public toilets situated beside the entrance to Newbiggin Golf Club near the car park entrance.

Remember to follow the seaside code:
  • leave only footprints
  • take only photos
  • keep only memories
  • waste nothing but time
Please use the litter bins provided.
Water sports, boating and recreation at Newbiggin Bay
The offshore break water provides a sheltered area with excellent water quality for bathers and water sports enthusiasts to enjoy.

There is a community of professional fishermen operating out of the bay who can be seen regularly launching and recovering their boats from the sea.

The Newbiggin Small Boat Club and the Sandridge Fisherman’s Group also launch through the bay, as does the Newbiggin Sailing Club, who regularly hold club sailing events in the bay. There is a launch registration scheme in place for the bay and all boats and vehicles which access the bay need to be registered. Details can be found on the Newbiggin Bay craft and vehicle permit site.

The sheltered southern end of the bay is ideal for sea kayak beginners and is outside of the powered craft corridor.
Local attractions at Newbiggin Bay
To the very north of the bay at Church Point stands the Newbiggin Maritime Centre with its museum and café/restaurant. The museum is run by a community-based trust and is open daily all year round. The nearby St Bartholomew’s Church is one of the oldest churches on the Northumberland coast.

Newbiggin Golf Club is situated on Newbiggin moor, and non-members are welcome. Newbiggin Sports and Community Centre has a range of facilities for everyone to enjoy and is only a five minute walk from the village main street.
Safety information and accessibility for Newbiggin Bay
The promenade is accessible to disabled visitors, with flat paths and no gradients. The northern end allows for interaction with people on the beach for wheelchair users and there is access to the sand via the lifeboat ramp.

There is public rescue equipment and safety signage on the promenade. The bay has two access points for vehicles and boats. Please be cautious when fishermen or lifeboat crews are launching and recovering their craft. Remember that the vehicles need right of way on the ramps.

Tractors and horses with carts are often on the beach to remove sea coal. Please be aware of them and allow for their safe passage.
Newbiggin Bay - contact information
For water sports, boat launch and general enquiries, please contact Arthur Cranson:

Email: Arthur.Cranson@northumberland.gov.uk
Tel: 01670 797323 or 07932440838

Bathing water quality

The Environment Agency collects water quality data each year from May to September, to ensure that designated bathing water sites on the coast and inland are safe and clean for swimming and other activities.

Countryside education activities

Schools and other groups may use the council’s countryside sites as a natural environment for educational activities.

Country parks - educational activities
For information about opportunities and resources, please contact the sites directly at the phone numbers given below: An educational activities pack has been produced for Choppington Community Woods Local Nature Reserve. The pack contains ideas and work sheets for school or youth groups who want to visit the site. The activities can also be undertaken at other nearby countryside sites.

The pack can be downloaded by clicking on the links below:

Countryside volunteering in Northumberland

There are opportunities to volunteer at our country parks, local nature reserves and other countryside sites.

If you would like to help out with practical tasks, or simply report problems or wildlife sightings, please email Mike.Jeffrey@northumberland.gov.uk

The Country Trust

The Country Trust works to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities by showing the working countryside to children, parents and teachers from inner-city areas.

To find out more, visit the Country Trust website.