93.61 ha (231.31 acres)

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Map reference:

Explorer 308
OS Landranger 88

This tranquil site is a mix of ancient woodland which cloaks the long, narrow valley of Ridley Gill, and established, new native woodland planted in 1992, where medieval farmsteads once stood.

Hedley Hall is brimming with birdlife and contains open grassland, wetlands, small woodland ponds and a grazed wildflower meadow as well as the extensive woodland. Follow the babbling stream and look out for the sculptures and benches carved by sculptor Keith Barrett.


  • Parking at site
  • Public access
  • Spring flowers
  • Waymarked walk
  • Grassland
  • Marshland
  • Broadleaved woodland

How to get to Hedley Hall

The 93-hectare (231-acre) Hedley Hall site lies next to the A6076, 3.2km (2 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.

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 (2 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 (1 mile) and turn left onto Hedley Lane for the main entrance.

The nearest train station is Chester-Le-Street, around 14km (8.5 miles) from the wood.

Visit National Rail for more information.

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.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Facilities and access

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.

There is a free car park at the entrance off Hedley Lane which has space for 10 cars.

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

Wildlife and habitats


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.

Keep an eye out for the amphibians that live in the seasonal ponds.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

The long, narrow valley of Ridley Gill contains ancient semi-natural woodland. It forms part of a much larger complex of linked woodlands that includes Beamish Woods to the south.

The site has three distinct types of high forest woodland: oak-hazel in the north, and wet alder and ash-elm as you move south.

After Hedley Hall first came into our care in the 1990s, we planted some of the wood with native broadleaved trees and shrubs on former arable and pasture land.

Look out for:


There is a diversity of habitats at Hedley Hall, one of the gems being Ridley Gill, a narrow valley which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

In September 1997, 6 hectares (14.8 acres) of open ground were sown as hay and wildflower meadow, but since 2007 they have been managed as grazed pasture. This provides a valuable habitat adjacent to the new woodland.


Support us

Your support matters

This wood was secured for the future thanks to your response to an urgent appeal. Discover how you helped us bring another incredible place safely under our wing, and what the future holds for Hedley Hall. 

See what we've achieved

About Hedley Hall

Look out for signs of the past in your walk through the wood. The old medieval village site of Hedley is thought to still exist next to Hedley Lane. There is also an old farmstead known as The Garths, along with areas of ridge and furrow under the planted trees.

During the Second World War, an emergency shelter was built somewhere in Ridley Gill but exactly where and if this still exists has yet to be established.

Dedication bench at Watkins Wood

Dedicate at this wood

This wood is one of more than 50 across the UK where it's possible to dedicate trees, benches or larger areas of woodland. Mark a special occasion or celebrate the life of a loved one with a meaningful gesture that lasts. 

Choose a dedication

Things to do at Hedley Hall


Hedley Hall Management Plan

PDF  (157 KB)