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Jesmond Dene's named among UK's top walks.

Byline: Ian Robson Reporter ian.robson@ncjmedia.co.uk

WITH its air of calmness and historic character, you would be hard pressed to find a better beauty spot on the outskirts of a city than Jesmond Dene.

The green space is one of Tyneside's gems, nestling close to the hustle and bustle of the city's streets.

And so much is its appeal, it was singled out for praise when the Independent named it as one of the best places to go for a walk in the country.

The news outlet included a stroll in the Dene among the best ways to spend a few hours just wandering around taking in the sights, describing it as a sliver of tranquility on the edge of the city.

"There's an astonishingly rural, peaceful rhythm for somewhere so close to the city centre," said the article.

We love it when the national press are impressed by our corner of the world and we're happy to share the delights of the North East with anyone who will listen.

Jesmond Dene has been a place where Geordies can escape the rat race since the 1860s when it was first laid out.

Who can we thank for this idyllic bit of heaven? None other than the Victorian industrialist Lord Armstrong.

He wanted a place not far from the city centre where people could enjoy woodland, crags, waterfalls and pools.

It is famous for the sound of birds waking up in the morning - the dawn chorus has even been recorded and used to help hospital patients feel better.

Many paths and bridges crisscross the Dene giving visitors the chance to see something different each time.

It follows the River Ouseburn between South Gosforth and Jesmond Vale and is currently owned by the city council. It is regarded as an important wildlife corridor and is home to the native red squirrel and the kingfisher.

The Dene has many links with Newcastle's industrial heritage including the iron Armstrong Bridge.

For the kids - and kids at heart - there is a Pets' Corner. For art lovers there is a craft market.

For the community there are many activities at the new state of the art Visitors' Centre which has an exhibition space and classroom.

And we're always trying to make it better with a recent refurbishment of Coleman's Field seeing a new path and new bridge.

We like the Dene so much we were even prepared to stage a protest at the destruction of some 200-year-old trees which had to be removed so the Cradlewell bypass could be built.

But sometimes the best things about the Dene just happen.

There's the Shoe Tree, an old sycamore, where visitors tie shoes to the branches... just because.

The tradition started when students celebrated the end of exams by throwing their shoes up in the air and has entered the imagination of the Newcastle residents ever since.

The writer Julia Darling referred to the tree in her story The Taxi Driver's Daughter.

Despite its ability to throw up the unexpected, one thing is for certain - we love Jesmond Dene, and it appears we're not alone.

SPOILED FOR CHOICE FOR FOR BEAUTY SPOTS After the Independent named Jesmond Dene as one of the best places in the UK to go for a walk, we looked at other North East beauty spots where you can go for a stroll.

There are hundreds of places in our picturesque region but we've picked out five of the very best.

Plessey Woods Country Park, Northumberland Plessey Woods is located between Bedlington and Cramlington, not far from Morpeth, and you can get to it from the A192 at Hartford Bridge.

You get no less than 100 acres of woodland, meadow and riverside to explore at leisure.

Plessey Woods is a dog-friendly location while some paths, but not all, are suitable for wheelchairs.

Northumberlandia, Northumberland Fancy a date with the Lady of the North? Northumberlandia is a country park and landscape sculpture in the form of a woman open from dawn until dusk each day except December 25.

Made of 1.5 million tonnes of earth, it is 34 metres (112 feet) high and 400 metres (1,300 feet) long, set in a 19 hectares (47 acres) public park. Its creators claim that it is the largest land sculpture in female form in the world.

Northumberlandia is located next to Cramlington in Northumberland, only a few minutes from the A1.

Hamsterley Forest, County Durham Hamsterley Forest is wedged between Teesdale and Weardale in the heart of beautiful Durham Dales and is approximately 10 miles (16km) west of Bishop Auckland.

Facilities on offer include a cafe, cycle hire, picnic sites, adventure playground, forest drive and walking and horse riding routes.

Newcastle Quayside A walk along the Quayside at Newcastle takes in wonderful historic and modern sights.

You can just wander on your own but Newcastle City Council's heritage walk, Along the Riverside, is conducted for a fee of PS4. Walkers can enjoy a short guided a short tour along The Close and Newcastle and Gateshead's historic riverside with a stop over for refreshments at St Mary's Heritage Centre.

And of course you can see the famous bridges across the river including the Tyne Bridge, the Swing Bridge and the Millennium Bridge.

Souter Lighthouse, South Shields Souter Lighthouse at South Shields is a great place to walk and admire the amazing rock formations.

Visitors are advised to start their walk in South Shields and make their way from the seafront along the coast.

The route takes you to the top of the cliffs to begin with and then going down on to the beach around Marsden.

CAPTION(S):

An oasis in the centre of Newcastle - Jesmond Dene Claire McKie

Jesmond Dene's a key wildlife corridor Claire McKie

A blanket of frost covers Jesmond Dene Claire McKie

Jesmond Dene has been a haven for Geordies since it was first laid out back in the 1860s Claire McKie
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Article Details
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Author:Ian Robson Reporter ian.robson@ncjmedia.co.uk
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 26, 2015
Words:985
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