One benefit of a Pandemic Lockdown has been my realisation that I don’t really know the area where I live. Despite being here for over 30 years I have spent the time raising 3 children and working. So never really undertaken any solo exploring. I went where the children wanted to go – the park, the beach.
The excellent weather that made the lockdown bearable for many encouraged me to visit Hardwick Park which is a short walk away and also the nearby farm roads – both became the destination for our daily exercise. https://www.durham.gov.uk/hardwickpark
As the lockdown eased and we could, responsibly, travel outside of our immediate surroundings I started investigating what was nearby – and not crowded.
A short drive to Seaham on Father’s Day, brought us to Nose Point. Originally a mining area (Dawdon Colliery – one of the last to close in the North East). It has since been developed into a nature reserve with wildflower meadows, ponds and seating areas along its many paths giving open views along the coastline.
As is often the case, I realised once we were in the car park, that during my working life I had frequently driven passed but never thought to stop. https://durhamheritagecoast.org/our-story/what-we-have-done/noses-point/
Another day and we drove to Barnard Castle (!) – a town we know well yet rarely walked the surrounding countryside. It was a rainy afternoon but good to be out stretching our legs.
Reclaimed railway lines are often uncrowded on weekdays and so we took the opportunity to re-visit Wynyard Woods Walkway. This was a popular spot when the children were young as they could safely practise cycling along its level and wide path, (it was called Castle Eden Walkway then, not sure why it changed its name). As it has two main entrances, we had two walks starting at either end on separate days. Always surprises me how things look different from differing approaches.
Billingham Beck Country Park is a small area alongside the A19 and which I have driven by numerous times. An interesting walk and the nearby traffic was not intrusive – just wear sensible shoes, the paths were muddy.
A dry but dull Friday saw us walking the paths at RSPB Saltholme. https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/saltholme/ Plenty of wildflowers and butterflies but an absence of birds.
Our most recent short trip was to Hurworth Burn Reservoir. A popular route for cyclists as well as birdwatchers, it is a very scenic area – as well as the water to walk alongside there is also a reclaimed railway line which provides a flat easy path for strolling. http://www.durham.gov.uk/media/4403/Railway-Path—Hurworth-Burn—Station-Town/pdf/RailwayPathHurworthBurnStationTown.pdf
This was my first visit to the reservoir – I am still surprised by that statement as it is approx. 2 miles from my house yet I didn’t know it was there. And, if not for the Covid Lockdown I probably still wouldn’t!