THE BEST OPEN SPACES FOR YOUR DAILY EXERCISE | Living North

THE BEST OPEN SPACES FOR YOUR DAILY EXERCISE

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Get some fresh air in our beautiful open spaces

Please continue to follow government guidelines and only enjoy these walks if they are local to you. You can always save them for later and head out when you're able to do so safely.

Hedley Hall Woods, Newcastle
With woodland, a wildflower meadow and a sculpture trail, there’s plenty of space to exercise at Hedley Hall. This tranquil site, part of the Woodland Trust, covers a vast 230 acres – and is home to an array of birdlife, including the rare great spotted woodpecker. Follow the babbling stream and look out for the sculptures and benches carved by sculptor Keith Barrett.

Gibside, near Rowlands Gill
Escape the hustle and bustle among 600 acres of gardens, woodland and countryside – perfect for wildlife spotting. Gibside’s stunning 18th century landscaped gardens and woodlands are popular with visitors of all ages, who enjoy taking in the breath-taking views of the Derwent Valley. 

Rainton Meadows, Houghton
More than 200 species of bird have been spotted here, including the resident swans, with a variety of other animals showing their faces. Hare and deer are frequently seen if you’re patient and quiet, so it’s no surprise that Durham Wildlife Trust’s headquarters is based here too. Take a stroll along the pathways and past the ponies to reach the bird-hides.

Hawthorn Dene, Durham
Take a stroll through this unspoilt ancient woodland and species-rich meadow, then follow the path out of the trees and to the beach. The reserve, between Easington and Seaham, is an area that’s often forgotten about along the Durham coast but with wild garlic, woodpeckers and the occasional roe deer to see (if you’re lucky) it's well worth a visit.

Roseberry Topping, Newton-under-Roseberry 
This striking and uniquely-shaped hill was created half by geological events and half by a mining collapse. It’s a short walk to the top (it only takes about half an hour), and you get fantastic views across the Tees Valley as your reward. If you don't want to climb to the top, there are plenty of open fields surrounding the hill, with pathways to follow.

Fountains Abbey, Ripon
Stroll along the bridleways, footpaths and roadways through this ancient estate with views of Ripon Cathedral. The route boasts a wide variety of trees which began being planted in 1710, before you reach the magnificent views of Fountains Abbey lake at the end of your trail. 

Spurn Point, Hull
While it’s not one of the longest walks, Spurn Point is one of Yorkshire’s best nature reserves with spectacular wildlife, beach, mudflats, saltmarsh, dunes and grassland around you. The thin strip of land features clear paths and signage explaining what you might see along the way. It makes for a perfect short walk, but keep your furry friends at home as dogs aren’t allowed here.

West Wood, Leeds
Once the garden of an impressive Victorian house, West Wood is a site with lots of secrets to uncover, including an old walled garden, hidden grottoes, and many more historical gems. West Wood is a seven-hectare site in the Aire Valley, between Shipley and Pudsey. Close to the village of Calverley, it links with the more expansive Calverley Wood and, together with Lodge Wood, forms a large area of woodland peppered with pathways.

Published in: January 2021

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