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  • Writer's pictureKelly

31 reserves in 31 days - Our guide to Durham wildlife trusts Gateshead Nature reserves.

We set ourselves a challenge at the end of June to visit 31 nature reserves in 31 days for July, to highlight just how much open space there is available to explore and the great work that the wildlife trusts do. We love to go for walks and love it more if those walks include wildlife especially bugs!

Today we decided to target Gateshead.

I will be honest, I was a little disappointed at some of them. The Durham Wildlife Trusts have taken over the spaces from Gateshead council and you can see why with some of the sites.

Our Day

Crosslane meadows was our first stop, not far from the Metro Centre sits this gorgeous bit of heaven for insects, bugs and various other wildlife. Crosslane meadows is a large reseeded wildflower meadow that was once farmland. Now it is home to an array of pretty wildflowers including, Ox eye daisy, Yellow rattle & knapweed. The boys loved it here and took a real interest in photographing the plants. 16 hectares of beauty.

Nesting hedges provide homes for Yellowhammers. The boys were happy as we managed to find a few different lacewings, spiders and a snail.

Quite overgrown in places making some of the pathways a bit difficult to access. There is a small car parking area but no other facilities . Dogs are welcome on a lead. NE16 3EQ

Shibdon Pond & Meadow

A really pretty reserve. We really like this one, there is a nice walk around the pond although some of the pathways are closed for repairs at the moment. Shibdon is one of the best wetlands in the region and has seen some impressive sightings when it comes to wildfowl. Some of the wildlife you could spot include Kingfisher, Golden plover, Cormorant, Iceland gulls, Fox, Otter, Newts and lots more. Toby found a huge stick shaped like a staff so for the walk he was a wizard the whole time! No toilets, large car park on the old Blaydon swimming pool site. NE21 5LU Dogs welcome on a lead.

Addison & Hedgefield

This has got to be one of my favourites, I just love how the setting changes with each pathway. You have grasslands and woodland here. Addison & Hedgefield used to be a colliery and village now nature has taken over. Looking over team valley it is strangely picturesq. We found a couple of common red soldier beetles mating, rather large hare poop and various butterflies. This was actually the were Alexander Graham Bell made the first underground phone call.

We are definitely going back so we can explore lots more. Birds you could see here include warblers. NE21 4NN No toilets, we parked in the church across the road. Dogs ok on a lead.

Westfield Pasture

Westfield follows the river Tyne, beautiful grasslands with an array of plants and flowers including Marsh thistle and Cowslip, there are 2 small ponds and it is a great sight to spot warblers & yellowhammers. NE40 3UN Parking is in the village and you have to follow the footpath through the golf course.The boys enjoyed the walk to the pasture.

Milkwellburn Wood

Currently part of a long term project to better the environment for the wildlife.

Ancient woodlands which I love! Surrounded by Oak and Ash and also hazel and honeysuckle. You could see Tawny owls, Blackcaps & Red kites here. We heard an owl but didn't see one This is a huge site consisting of 79.2 Hectares. You could easily spend half a day here if not a full day just exploring and taking in nature. The boys like the trees here.

NE17 7TE

Now this is where the issues start.

Barlow burn

We found this one really difficult to find actually and it is quite a walk to get to it once you have parked the car. Once there it is a busy wonderland of grasslands, woodlands and ponds and you will see lots of butterflies and the Grebe. NE21 6JN

Chopwell meadows

Chopwell meadows used to be a colliery but now nature has taking it back, work is still be done here but it still provides a great resource for plenty of insects and butterflies. The parking here was a nightmare if i'm honest, cars dumped all over the place and dog poop seemed to be an issue here. Could be a great walk though.

NE17 7Lf

Lamesley Pastures

Honestly, an absolute mess. It is so overgrown at both entrances you can't actually get in. We normally wouldn't be too bothered if it was just long grass, but it was actually the tallest nettles I have ever seen completely engulfing the walkways not safe for any child to walk through. The bits you can get to are full of rubbish and broken glass, the bridge is about to fall down (entrance in the pub car park)

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