Get out and about in the Land of Oak & Iron this Christmas


As the song goes, it certainly is the most wonderful time of the year, and here at the Land of Oak & Iron, we’re really getting into the festive spirit, as Christmas is quite literally just around the corner.  The tree is trimmed with tinsel, presents are perfectly wrapped, and of course, the chestnuts are roasting on an open fire.  All that’s left to do is wait in anticipation for Santa Claus to come shimmying down the chimney on Christmas Eve – we can barely contain our excitement!

Of course, Christmas isn’t just about stockings stuffed to the brim and gifts under the tree come Christmas Day morning.  Rather, one of our favourite things about the festive season is being able to spend time with our family and friends.  What better way to end the year than with the people you know and love?

So, while the elves are busy loading Santa’s sleigh, why not kill some time in the Land of Oak & Iron while waiting for the Big Man to make his arrival.  Adding to the festive feel of the season (as if we needed any more help to feel Christmassy!) is an event for all the family to enjoy at National Trust Gibside – one of the many friends of the Land of Oak & Iron…

Wrap up warm and head out to take part in Christmas Chaos. It’s a trail around the stunning 18th Century landscape garden, whereby you will become a park ranger for the day.  You see, when the elves asked if they could assist the ranger team, Gibside agreed as it seemed a great idea at the time, but not all has gone according to plan!

Pick up a Christmas Chaos trail guide from the visitor reception, and as you make your way around the route, be on the lookout for things that don’t look quite right. You see, although the elves – Merry, Elm, Twinkle, Peppermint, Berry and Otis – were extremely helpful they have made a few mistakes. Can you see where they’ve misunderstood? It’s a fantastic free event with dates running up until 23rd December. Simply turn up and enjoy – no pre-booking necessary!

 With pre-Christmas activities sorted, what about things to do in the Derwent Valley between Christmas and New Year? After all, as much as we love spending time snuggled up indoors watching Christmas films, there’s nothing quite like a bracing winter’s walk during the holidays to blow the cobwebs away (not to mention it lets the kids blow off some steam with all the excitement of Christmas too!).

 Why not head over to Allensford Country Park and spend a morning or afternoon? It’s a picnic park in a sheltered riverside setting, complete with a children’s play park too.  You could make sandwiches out of the leftover turkey and other cold cuts of meat, fill a flask with hot soup and head out into the great outdoors while the kids slip and slide their way around the swings and see-saws.  Plus, if the weather outside really is frightful, there’s plenty of amenities nearby for you to warm up while you enjoy the magnificent views of the Derwent Valley. 

 Last but not least, if you’re looking for a slightly slower pace this festive season, once the kids and grandchildren have headed home for the New Year, why not enjoy some adult time together exploring the great outdoors in the Land of Oak & Iron? Pull on your walking boots and follow the Red Kite Trail.  An 11-mile circular walking route through the beautiful countryside of the lower Derwent Valley across Gateshead and County Durham, soak up the stunning scenery and seek out the wildlife as you amble along.  You never know, you may just be lucky enough to spot one of the magnificent red kites! Copies of the Red Kite Trail are available at several points within the lower Derwent Valley including Thornley Woodlands Visitor Centre, Swalwell Visitor Centre and Gibside National Trust.

There really is so much to see and do in the Land of Oak & Iron this Christmas.  Whether you wanted to dig, jump in muddy puddles and explore the surrounding areas or want to discover something new while learning about the wildlife and its natural habitats, there’s so much to uncover when taking a walk in the Derwent Valley.

And here’s a handy hint… for more walks and leisurely ambles in the area, check out this book detailing routes around Derwent Valley by Tim Deveaux. If it’s not too late, you may want to put this on your wish-list to Santa too…