Jan 22 2012

Gibside – What a place

I was born as raised in the sleepy valley of the Tyne just in to god’s own country of Northumberland. most of my days out in my younger days were to Kielder, Duridge bay or along the banks of the Tyne. Even though we had driven past a large English Heritage brown sign saying ‘Gibside Hall 2 miles’ we had never been for a visit.

Located near Rowlands Gill, Gibside is a massive expanse of georgian extravagance. Gateshead council says:

Things to see and do at Gibside:

  • 18th-century landscaped ‘forest’ garden
  • Woodland and riverside walks boasting fine views across the Derwent Valley
  • Palladian Chapel with unusual three-tiered pulpit
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest – look out for red squirrels, kingfishers and other wildlife
  • Ancestral estate of the Queen Mother’s family, the Bowes-Lyons
  • Award-winning toilets (always a winner in my book)
  • Uncover Mary Eleanor Bowes’ dramatic story of torture and abduction
  • Look for nature at our wildlife hide and viewing cameras

Even though it was late in the tourist season the car park was full with people. Dog walkers and children’s entertainers, sorry i mean parents, were out enjoying the wooded gems.

As you walk through the visitors entrance the first thing that greats you is a the stunning chapel. With its domed roof and columned entrance, it forms an imposing structure at the start of a stunning tree lined avenue. Although the footpath runs in parallel to the avenue it would be wrong to not follow everyone else and enjoy the lines and the view.

At the end of the avenue is a massive column depicting Liberty. Apparently back in the dim and distant past the statue was covered in gold…. unsurprisingly this is no longer the case. With metal prices being what they are the statue may not last long with it being made of steal! While being up at the bottom of the tower there was some scuffling going on in a bush followed by me meeting a new friend;-)

I was surprised to walk further through the woods and find a hide. i had first assumed that it was to see some of the grey squirrels and maybe the odd finch… little did I expect the range of things dancing round the nuts!

Nuthatch, GS woodpecker, coal tit, great tit, pheasant, grey squirrel, chaffinches, blackbird

Following down through the estate to the the river opened a very different view of the relics of the hall. The costs must be silly to actually renovate the whole building but if it could be it would be an awesome sight. In some ways it was a shame you couldn’t see more of the inside of ruins but i understand why they need to be kept closed to falling and slipping ‘have you tripped or fallen and it wasnt your fault’ morons;-)

After wandering past the relics we met the river that meandered past a large flat plain in front of the hall. A large shadow then swooped down near us…what it a bird..was it a plane no…ok it was a kite! and not the string related one that i used to struggle with as a child. Having lived down in Leeds for a while i didnt know that Gibside was like the main place to go and see kites! well i was shocked at one so when the sky filled with 6 i was in giddy land. being honest these shots are not award winners but now i know its there i will have to go back with some camo gear on!

on the whole the place is a great day out. loads to see and a nice old environment. i will definitely be going back when i have the right gear and the time to camp out in a bush waiting for a kite to come by!

Overall i was a little frustrated, not by the place it was great, but by me not getting there till i’m in my 30’s! for a family day out its a great venue for a walk with the dog or the like the only slight issue maybe the costs. if you are not a National Trust member its about £5.50 per adult. this isn’t loads for a fun day out but could limit some people if the trip is forming part of a busy day out.

My highlights from the day had to be the kites, more because i was not expecting them i think. on my next visit i may have to go in full camo kit and hide in a bush! I jest but if i was to say which bit of the grounds to visit first… i think i would go high up to the hide and the pond. this gives some cool views over the column and also the wooden bliss.

If you like these images there are a few more here – LINK


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  1. gcphotographos

    Lovely blog Gavin, it was a good read and liked the photos too 🙂

  2. Jo Oliver

    Great pictures!

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