Castle Eden Dene
Enjoy miles of woodland trails, pretty streams, rushing waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife in this splendid nature reserve in Peterlee. The reserve is the largest area of semi-natural woodland in north-east England. There are well surfaced trails running along the pretty Castle Eden Burn and through the atmospheric gorge.
There are two waymarked nature trails to try. The Yew trail runs for 2 miles following the Yew markers. On this trail you'll pass the reserve's majectic Yews and climb Craggy Bank where you can look out for nuthatches and goldcrests. The Squirrel trail also runs for about 2 miles following the squirrel markers.
The reserve contains over 450 species of plant including wild garlic (ransoms) with their distintive aroma, pretty yellow primroses, lily-of-the-valley and bird's-nest orchid. In the spring months there are also carpets of bluebells to admire. It's great for wildlife too. Look out for roe deer, foxes and numerous different types of bird as you make your way along the trails.
You can start your walk from the car park on Stanhope Chase. National Cycle Network Route 1 passes through Peterlee and close to the reserve if you would like to visit by bike. Please note that cycling is not permitted within the reserve though.
This walk starts at the Stanhope Chase car park and explores the western section of the reserve. You can head east and walk all the way to the coast where you can pick up the Durham Coastal Footpath.
To extend your walking in the area you can pick up the Castle Eden Walkway and follow the disused railway line to the lovely Wynyard Woodland Park.
If you follow the coast path north towards Seaham you could visit the lovely Hawthorn Dene Nature Reserve. The coastal reserve has more nice woodland trails and interesting flora and fauna.