Play Hard

Your Boxing Day walk sorted: seaside strolls and rural routes to blow out the Christmas cobwebs

And better still, they’re all dog-friendly.

Written by High Life North
Published 20.12.2023


Druridge Bay

Red Row, Northumberland, NE61 5BX 

Where to park: Druridge Bay Country Park – the first hour is free, up to two hours costs £2 and over two hours costs £4. (Postcode: NE61 5BX) 

There’s no better way to blow out the Christmas cobwebs than with a bracing walk along the coast. And with pristine sand and drifting dunes, Druridge Bay’s stretch of unspoiled coastline is a gem.

Souter Lighthouse and The Leas

Coast Road, Whitburn, Sunderland, SR6 7NH

Where to park: Souter Lighthouse Car Park – park right outside the Lighthouse for one hour for £1, two hours for £2, four hours for £3 or all day for £4. National Trust members are free. (Postcode: SR6 7NH)

Enjoy a coastal adventure with your furry friend with lengths of limestone footpaths, coastal bays and beautiful beaches. Here you can discover the fascinating history of the area, spot wildlife and enjoy scenic coastal views. Whether you want a gentle stroll or something more challenging, there’s a Coastal Trail to suit everyone.

Wagon Ways

3 Front Street, Whitley Bay NE25 8AL

Where to park: Churchill Car Park –  park for free right beside the start of the route on Church Hill Playing Fields (Postcode: NE26 3NT)

If you’d prefer to avoid getting those paws sandy, follow the Wagon Ways from Churchill Playing Fields through to Seaton Delaval, and you’ll come across a glorious forest and gorse land for your pooch to explore. On this seven-mile trek there and back, you’ll take in the captivating views of Seaton Delaval Hall and pass the ruins of Starlight Castle, a while getting your 10k steps in.


Plessey Woods

Shields Road, Plessey, Bedlington, Northumberland NE22 6AN 

Where to park: Plessey Woods Country Park –  the first hour is free, up to two hours costs £2 and over two hours costs £4. (Postcode: NE22 6HZ)

A popular choice for those who want a Boxing Day walk on the wild side in Northumberland. Just over a 20-minute drive from Newcastle, this winding woodland trail is a peaceful escape from the city with art sculptures to spot throughout the route, a large meadow for any little ones or dogs to run off some steam, and tranquil riverside vibes.

Watergate Forest Park

Watergate Forest Park Car Park, Gateshead NE11 9RQ 

Where to park: Watergate Forest Park Car Park – park free for two hours right at the start of the trail. (Postcode: NE11 0BG)

Located on the former Watergate Colliery, the site has now been transformed into a haven for wildlife. With its wetlands, woodlands, wildflower meadows and recreational routes, this Gateshead park has a series of routes where you can take in the views of natural and historical features and sculptures that’ll make your Boxing Day walk a little slicker than your average.

Derwent Walk  

34 Queen’s Road, Blackhill, Consett DH8 0BL

Where to park: Thornley Woodland Centre – free parking with countryside rangers to point you in the right direction. (Postcode: NE39 1AU)

Derwent Walk is a scenic route that runs 12 miles between Consett and Gateshead on the old Derwent Valley Railway track. The route passes through woodland, ponds and riverside areas and is full of wildlife and history, making it perfect for a long Boxing Day walk to get the blood pumping again after all that merry making.


Jesmond Dene

Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DZ

Where to park: Red Walk – parking is free and just a stone’s throw away from the Dene (Postcode: NE7 7BQ)

The ancient woodland of Jesmond Dene, just a stone’s throw away from Newcastle, is a Narnia-like escape from city life that seems made for winter adventures. With scenic pathways along the river and three crashing waterfalls, this wooded valley is a sheltered spot ideal for a Boxing Day wander.

Iris Brickfield

Whitefield Terrace, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 0AA

Where to park: Rothbury Terrace – free on street parking and just a few yards from the park (Postcode: NE6 5XJ)

This hidden gem in Heaton is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. The peaceful beauty spot can be found just off Chillingham Road and is home to a wildflower meadow and pond with a wetland area that attracts the likes of ducks and frogs. This route is ideal for anyone wanting a shorter route, but the park also has plenty of field space for any little ones or dogs to stretch their legs and play. Meanwhile, the gorgeous, tree-lined footpaths remind us of New York (especially in the snow).

The Rising Sun Country Park  

Whitley Road, Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 9SS

Where to park: The Rising Sun Car Park – free parking and just around the corner from the centre (Postcode: NE12 9SS)

You don’t have to stray far out of the city to find this tranquil getaway. Home in the heart of North Tyneside, The Rising Sun is a 400-acre wildlife haven with ponds, woodlands and grasslands ideal for dogs and their owners to wander around. Plus, there’s a cute café and a park that’s open all year round – perfect for a pitstop to warm up and let your little ones have a bit of play.


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