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Two people walking through a field with the Orangery in the background.
Visitors walking down to the Orangery at Gibside. | © National Trust Images/John Millar
North East

Valley Views trail at Gibside

See Gibside from a new perspective as you explore the estate and take in views across the Derwent Valley on this 4.4-mile walk. Wander through the Walled Garden and the woodland to discover the ruined old Hall with clues to the past embedded in its walls. Head on to the peaceful and less-visited stretch of the River Derwent where you might spot a kingfisher, if you're lucky.

Total steps: 14

Total steps: 14

Start point

Market Place, behind the Chapel

Step 1

Find the start of the trail by crossing the road from the raised wooden walkway next to the estate map. Go straight ahead with the Walled Garden wall on your left and the Market Place café ahead of you.

Step 2

At the doorway to the Walled Garden, take a left turn and head inside. The path leads you straight through the middle of the garden, passing apple trees and vegetable plots. The end of the path leads to large wooden gates.

Step 3

Once outside the large wooden gates of the Walled Garden, cross the road and via left to head into the shrubbery. Follow the grassy path as it leads you to the Orangery ruin, with a field on your right. Wander around the ruin and take in one of your first key views. Look out across the back of the Orangery across the valley and Rowlands Gill. If you are lucky you might spot red kites soaring over the valley. Once you have explored the ruin, continue through the shrubbery and walk down the flight of steps. Turn right along one of the original waggon ways in the estate and walk straight ahead to the Avenue Road.

Step 4

Turn left on the road, with the Avenue on your right. Continue straight ahead. Once you are past the woodland on your left, you will see Green Close field. There is a mound in the middle that would have contained a fountain of some kind – as part of the historic a garden design – but now the field is mostly used for picnics, events and playing. As you continue along the road, you'll see another field in front of the ruin of the once-great Hall. Follow the road as it bends to the right. The grassy dip on your left is known as the Hollow Walk. If you look across it, you should see your first glimpse of the Column to Liberty towering above the treetops.

Step 5

Continue up the hill under the yew trees and emerge with a lawn on your right in front of the grand stables. This impressive first view was part of the design, as George wanted to show off his wealth to visitors, who would see a grand stables building, rather than a working space. Continue to the top of the hill and at the junction turn right, following the road towards the stables. Take the opportunity to have a look inside and have a rest if you need to. When you are ready to continue, head up the hill into the woodland.

Step 6

After walking uphill through the woods for about 110yd (100m), you will pass a small building on your right (the woodland Bothy, home to Kate Cullen's Holistic Therapies). You will then see a grassed strip on both sides. This is another of the historic vistas that extends from the top at the Banqueting House (out of view) down towards the Avenue and Chapel. You should see the Chapel peeking through the trees if you look carefully. Just after the vista, re-enter the cover of the trees and find the trail turning to your left. Head through the trees to the top of the hill to cross small bridges and a boardwalk. At the end you will find a kissing gate. Go through the gate and walk straight ahead up the side of the field, keeping the fence and ditch to your left. Take care as there may be livestock grazing in the field. Please keep dogs on a short lead here. You're entering farmland here so make sure to read signs carefully.

Step 7

At the top of the field you will find a kissing gate to leave the field. Walk across the farm track and go through another kissing gate. Head straight up to the top of the hill but do not climb the stile in front of you. Remain on this side of fence and turn left. Follow the fence line, keeping it on your right to the end of the field, where you will reach a third stile which you will need to climb to continue on the trail, emerging on a farm track.

Step 8

Continue straight ahead along the track, passing the adjoining roads to your left. As you walk along the road you will pass several privately-owned houses on the left behind hedges. The first of these, Hillhead House, was once the home of Gibside's land agent in the 18th century. He managed the estate while the family were away. Continue to the end bend in the road but do not follow it round to the right; continue straight ahead into the field in front of you by going over the stile. Head into the meadow, keeping the fence on your right and carry on until you reach the stile at the end of the field.

Step 9

Once over the stile, continue into the woodland. Follow the path round to the left with Whickham Golf course on your right. Carry on along a sunken pathway (a historic coal waggon way) and re-enter Gibside's woodland through the gate. Follow the trail back through the woodland, carefully heading down the path to return onto the forestry track in Snipes Dene.

Step 10

Once off the forestry road, turn left and head down through Snipes Dene, following the original entrance route into Gibside. You will notice that many of the trees in the valley beneath you (on your right) have been felled. These trees belonged to the Forestry Commission and now that they are felled, the woodland has been handed over to Gibside for management. The road continues downhill for approximately 1 mile, passing another farm track and the entrance road to the Banqueting House (now owned by the Landmark Trust and managed as a holiday cottage) so you can only visit it if you are staying in it. Continue to the bottom of the hill, where you'll see a pond in front of you.

Step 11

As you approach the pond, the track bends to the right. The trail continues straight ahead but before you follow it, you have the option to add two more views to your walk. Take the path into the woods on your right and about 22yd (20m) on your left is the bird hide. Pop in to see what birds you can spot on the feeders with Brick Kiln field in front of you. When you are ready to leave, exit the hide and turn right to return to the trail. You can also take a better look at the Octagon Pond by heading onto the grassy area to your left. You will get views up to the Banqueting House from here. Back on the trail, head down the hill and take the track on your right, with the edge of Snipes Dene woods on your right.

Step 12

At the bottom of the hill, pass the path junctions first on your left and then on your right, and stop at the grassy mound on your left-hand side. If you can, walk onto the top of it and look around. This mound is a key part of the garden design, giving you four options for views: downhill towards the Lily Pond; up over the treetops to see the top of the Column; back up the hill to see the Banqueting House; and across the Hollow Walk along the Avenue towards the Chapel. Continue down the hill when you are ready. After a few hundred meters you'll find the Lily Pond on your right-hand side. Continue back down the track through the woods. It bends to the right, passing a fenced track on your left. Continue straight ahead, passing the track up the hill signed to the Column, and take the next path on your left down to the riverside.

Step 13

The path leads you to the river's edge and follows it upstream with a large meadow on your left. There are several benches to take some time out to rest and just relax. Take in the view to the Nine Arches viaduct to your right and the view across the meadow to the rear of the Hall. The path passes two adjoining tracks on your left and continues until it ends and heads up back on itself. At the first bend, you will see the remains of a building. This was the Bath House from the 1700s but only the base of some of the walls remain today. Head up the hill (this is a steep path and has some steps at the top), through Ice House Dene and emerge back onto Avenue Road.

Step 14

Turn right onto the road and head up the steps on your left to walk on the grassy Avenue in summer, or alongside it in winter (when it is closed due to mud and reseeding). Turn right again and admire the views of the Chapel in front and, if you look behind, the Column in the distance. Continue to the Chapel and, to keep to the trail, walk on the left-hand side to walk down the gravel path. Turn right behind the Chapel and finish your walk as the path re-enters Market Place.

End point

Market Place, behind the Chapel

Trail map

Gibside Valley Views trail map
Gibside Valley Views trail map | © Crown Copyright and database right 2023 Ordnance Survey 100023974

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