Set in the countryside to the west of Newcastle and Gateshead in North East England, the project covers a 177Km2 area surrounding the Derwent Valley.  It stretches from the rural Derwent Reservoir to the more urban River Tyne, including parts of Gateshead, Northumberland and County Durham.

This beautiful steep sided valley has an abundance of natural woodland, rare and iconic wildlife. However, the natural beauty that you can see today was not always as it appears. Not so long ago the area once hosted a world-leading iron and steel industry in various forms from the 1690s up until the 1980s; in the early 18th Century it was the heart of British sword making and was home to the great industrialist Ambrose Crowley. Such industry attracted wealth and culture to the area, including Mary Eleanor Bowes, known as the ‘Unhappy Countess’ living at Gibside Hall, the artist Thomas Bewick, the poet Tommy Armstrong and is famed for the local traditional dance; Rapper Dancing across the globe.

Our partnership has secured £3.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a variety of matched funding sources, to enable this area’s unique combination of natural, industrial and cultural heritage to be conserved, enhanced and celebrated. Local people, communities and visitors to the area will benefit from improvements to access, greater interpretation, greener travel, the chance to learn and share skills, a community grants scheme and to play a part within the vision to invigorate local regeneration and the local economy.

Fourteen interconnected projects will be delivered across a four year programme from 2016-2020. They will leave a lasting legacy of restored heritage, improved access and information, together with rekindled local passion for the area and merited global awareness of the significance of the Land of Oak & Iron’s previously concealed heritage.

To find out more please read our Landscape Conservation Action Plan (LCAP).