Skip Navigation

More about Hedley Hall

There is a diversity of habitats at Hedley Hall. One of the gems is Ridley Gill. We currently own 9ha (22 acres) of this ancient woodland, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Stroll through the oak and hazel of the northern reaches of the valley and enjoy the springtime carpet of vivid bluebell. As you move further south to the wet woodland – a rare habitat in this area – you’ll find moss and lichen-clad alder, ash and elm. Here, the summer months bring clumps of delicate, creamy-white meadowsweet, large umbrellas of purple-tinged wild angelica, and splashes of sunshine-yellow marsh marigold. The name ‘Hedley’ means ‘heathery clearing’. It is derived from the Old English ‘haeth’, meaning heathland or heather, and ‘leah’, meaning clearing.

Hedley Hall is a paradise for birdwatchers. The early months of the year are the time to hear the drumming of woodpeckers and to listen out for the call of the cuckoo as spring approaches. The woods are soon teeming with summer visitors, such as swallows, swifts and redstarts; brightly coloured goldfinches and yellowhammers flit among the branches; and the trees ring with the melodic calls of the song thrush and willow warbler.

In the more open areas, look out for the wooden sculptures by environmental artist, Keith Barrett. They double as seats where you can take a break and admire the views of the surrounding countryside. This magical woodland has many paths and rides waiting to be explored. Just remember that some areas can be wet underfoot so it’s a good idea to bring your wellies.

Setting

The 55ha (136.5-acre) Hedley Hall site lies next to the A6076, 3.2km (two miles) south of Sunniside and 13.8km (8.6 miles) south of Newcastle. The woods occupy part of Hedley Fell overlooking Beamish Open Air Museum and the town of Stanley.

OS Explorer 308; Landranger 88, Grid reference: NZ218559

Directions

By bus
There is a bus stop on the A6076 (Burdon Plain) near the Tanfield Railway and Tyneside Locomotive Museum. The wood is about 15 minutes’ walk south along the A6076 and then along Hedley Lane (past Hedley West House Farm).

By train
The nearest train station is Chester Le Street, from where you can catch a bus to the woods.

For up-to-date information on public transport, visit traveline or telephone 0871 200 22 33.

By car
From Newcastle, head south along the A189 and continue to the A184. Keep left at the fork and then merge onto the A1. After 3.2km (two miles,) take the exit towards Team Valley. At the roundabout, take the fourth exit, then at the next roundabout take the third exit. Turn left onto Birkheads Lane, then drive for 1.6km (one mile) and turn left onto Hedley Lane for the main entrance. There is parking for around 10 cars here.

You can enter the wood from either the car park or the public footpath further east along the lane. Another public footpath leads down to Hedley Hall Farm, and into the site.

Access and walks

There is access from the Hedley Lane car park via a kissing gate, or from the public footpath further east along the lane. Another public footpath leads down to Hedley Hall Farm, and into the site. Access to Ridley Gill is from various points along the west side of Hedley Hall but no formal paths are maintained in Ridley Gill.

The site has many paths, rides and open spaces, which can be muddy in parts. Part of the Tyne-Wear Trail passes through the wood, linking it to the wider public footpath network.

Nearest amenities

Public conveniences
There are public toilets in Stanley off the A6076, at Station Road, next to Market Hall and at the bus station which is next to the Asda supermarket just off the second major roundabout on the A693.  There is a RADAR toilet at Stanley bus station.

Refreshments
There are a number of eating places in Sunniside and in Stanley.

Accommodation and tourist information
For ideas on places to stay, visit TripAdvisor.

For tourist information, visit cityvisitor.co.uk.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.