Highfield - Spen Banks - Hookergate - Highfield

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This walk takes you through mixed woodland and pasture, past the winter roost and the summer hunting grounds of the valley's red kites. You can also see the 'Statue of British Liberty' and the steps where Wesley preached.

What I like about this walk is that from an unprepossessing start on a run-down estate, you quickly enter wildlife-rich woods, followed by quiet fields. It shows the resilience of nature. Nowadays as well we have the benefit of the reintroduced red kites which have made their home over these woods and hills. If you don't see at least one on this walk you will have been very unlucky.

The woods we walk through are managed and still forested. They used to belong to the National Coal Board and were originally planted as a source of pitprops. We also at one point follow the route of an old railway line that took coal from pits in and near Chopwell Woods down to the Tyne.

From the top point of the walk there is an extensive view over Gibside Estate (National Trust) on the other side of the valley. This was the home of the Bowes-Lyons, the Queen Mother's family. The Statue of British Liberty (built 1757) is said to contain a crock of gold in its bowl. Apparently some people have tried to reach it but in case you're tempted, it's just one of those legends that make life more interesting.

Towards the end of the walk you pass a converted barn at Low Spen which was visited by John Wesley in 1744. It is claimed that he preached from the top of the steps that still exist at the side of the building. This was early on in the establishment of the Methodist Church.

There is one very steep scramble near the beginning of the walk, not to be attempted by the unfit or those with bad knees, plus one or two places where the path becomes muddy or churned up. Mostly however, the paths are good underfoot and the main climb is relatively gentle and on a good surface.

England - North England - Tyne and Wear - Countryside


Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Wildlife, Woodland

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Distance away
10.6 Miles
10.6 Miles