River walk at Wallington
Take a tranquil walk along the banks of the River Wansbeck, crossing over bridges and stepping stones - perfect for a stroll whatever the season. Explore the woods and see what wildlife you can spot on this riverside walk.
Wallington Courtyard, grid ref: NZ028843
Start in the Courtyard with the Clocktower behind you and head to the gateway in the left-hand corner. Passing through the gateway turn left onto East Drive and away from the House to the main road.
Take care as you cross over the road and enter the East Wood. Head straight ahead down the Serpentine Walk to reach Garden Pond.
East Wood was created between 1728 and 1742 by Sir Walter Blackett as part of his grand design for Wallington. Today, it is home to Wallington’s two oldest and largest oak trees, which are over 300 years old. Look out for them on your right as you walk down the Serpentine Walk towards Garden Pond.
Follow the path around the edge of Garden Pond and enter the beautiful Walled Garden through the doorway known as Neptune Gate. You can pause here to explore the garden or simply walk straight ahead along the terrace with the conservatory on your left and exit via the far doorway.
Garden Pond is one of five ponds which were created in the 1740s as part of an elaborate water garden. Originally designed to be mirror ponds, they are now overgrown and naturalised, but on a sunny day you can still see great reflections in the water. Sir Walter Blackett initiated the layout of the Walled Garden. He oversaw the building of the Owl House; a banqueting house still visible above today’s conservatory. He also built a hot house for growing pineapples! It is believed that Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown played a key role in the design of the garden and these original buildings. Whilst the walls of the garden and Owl House still survive from the 18th Century, much of what you see today is the vision of George Otto Trevelyan who inherited Wallington in 1886. George Otto had the Paradise Gates, located at the bottom of the garden, made and imported from Italy around 1889. He also introduced the herbaceous borders and replaced greenhouses and vegetable beds. A rock garden and paths were created, and the current conservatory built in 1909.
On leaving the Walled Garden head down the Gooseberry Walk until you reach a gateway beside the road. You’ll see the Paradise Gates at the bottom of the Walled Garden behind you, and Garden House on your left.
Garden House is a listed, classical style house built c1766, possibly to designs by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Originally intended for the Head Gardener it also plays a major ornamental role in Sir Walter’s original garden design, sited prominently near the road and complementing the Paradise Gates, the Walled Garden and Owl House.
Cross the road and enter the small woodland opposite via a gate. Follow the path to the River Wansbeck and carefully cross over the stepping stones. NOTE: When the river levels are high the stepping stones may be underwater. Please take extra care and head along the road to cross the river using Paine’s Bridge instead.
Once over the river, there is a choice of paths, either through the meadow along the edge of the river or on a hardened pathway through the Deanham Wood.
Deanham Wood was created in the 1740s and contains one of the finest collections of veteran trees in Northumberland.
Pass under Paine’s Bridge, through a gate, and continue to follow the pathway into the woodland known as Wallington Dean.
Paine’s Bridge was built over the River Wansbeck in c1755 to designs by James Paine, who also designed the bridge at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The river was originally dammed with a series of cascades to make it appear bigger and at one time water flowed through the archway you are now walking through.
Continue on the path alongside the river and through the woods, eventually crossing over the river again at Trout Bridge. Follow the path as it rises uphill.
Trout Bridge is a great place to spot dippers, a brown-black bird with a distinctive white breast. You also get a good view here of the rocks in the river below - look out for our native white clawed crayfish.
Once at the top of the valley, you have a choice of two paths. To the right is a shorter route which takes you through the West Wood and back to the Courtyard. To extend the walk, take the path to the left and along Fenwick’s Drive further into the West Wood. When you reach a junction in the paths, turn left and keep straight ahead. Turn right and pass Top Pond on your left. The path then bends to the right. Continue straight ahead and back towards the House and Courtyard.
Wallington Courtyard, grid ref: NZ028843
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