Getting around Penshaw Monument

A group walking in Penshaw Woods

We’ve cared for Penshaw Monument for 78 years after it was donated to the National Trust in 1939, and it’s very popular.

Whilst we encourage everyone to enjoy the outdoors unfortunately, from February we will be closing access to the mountain bike track at Penshaw Woods.

Having been open since 2013, regular monitoring of this historic estate has shown the track to be negatively impacting on the surrounding woodland.

As a result, in partnership with Natural England, we have taken the reluctant decision to close the bike track and stop access by bike to the site. We’re doing this to ensure the site is protected and can be used by future generations for years to come. Visitors on foot will still be able to enjoy Penshaw’s 18 hectares of woodland and grassland. 

As an independent conservation charity it is the National Trust’s responsibility to manage the land for the benefit of nature to restore the health and beauty of the countryside, and encourage wildlife to flourish.

Helen McDonald, Head Ranger for Penshaw Monument, said:

“We created the track to provide a dedicated area for cyclists to access Penshaw. However, in spite of our intentions, the prolonged use of the track has led to the woodland becoming damaged. We work closely with Natural England to protect the woodland, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and after consultation with them the damage is now becoming too great and we have to restrict bicycle access. 

“We appreciate this will be a disappointing decision for people who cycle the track at Penshaw, but as a conservation charity we have an obligation to protect the site.”

Penshaw Monument includines woodland, shrub and open grassland. Importantly, it also comprises a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which means we have a legal obligation to look after the site, actively carrying out conservation work and preventing damage to it.

The SSSI at Penshaw is a small area at the top of the woodland, which is important for it’s geology.  It’s an excellent example of submarine debris flow, showing strata of sediment formed when the area was an ocean floor. 

Alternatively, there are a number of alternative places close by that cyclists can use including Hamsterley Forest (DL13 3NL), one of the North East’s premier mountain bike destinations, with over 2000 hectares of forest, or Chopwell Woodland Park (NE39 1LT) is located in the Derwent Valley.

Penshaw Monument will remain open to visitors on foot throughout the year and tours to top of the monument are every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays (until 24 September)
10am – 5pm.