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.
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.
Launching drones from County Council land is only allowed with the consent of the Council and where a formal license agreement has been signed. The council reserves the right to refuse consent and where consent is granted will require evidence of your Civil Aviation Training Certificate and public liability insurance.
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.
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