Winter walks: why the colder months offer the opportunity to see Sunderland’s surroundings differently
The colder months don’t have to mean hibernation; instead, winter offers a chance to take in a different perspective, from the leafless trees that reveal a new view to the wintering wildlife that makes our region its temporary home.
Just remember to dress warmly, wear appropriate footwear and check the weather conditions beforehand. Make sure you have enough daylight to complete your walk and be prepared with any necessary equipment like maps and a fully charged phone.
Then you’re all set to enjoy the winter season and the natural beauty of the North East!
Get a blast of fresh air
Seaburn and Roker beaches are two gems in Sunderland’s crown, and both boast Blue Flags. They’re easy to overlook in winter but enjoy the lack of crowds and take a leisurely stroll along the promenades while absorbing the fresh sea air and stunning coastal views.
Or why not climb up Penshaw Monument? This iconic landmark stands atop a hill next to Herrington Country Park and provides panoramic views of the surrounding area. In winter, you can take a hike to the top for a brisk but rewarding walk; it's especially beautiful with a dusting of snow.
Try some wildlife watching
A drive away but well worth the effort is Hamsterley Forest, a broadleaved and coniferous woodland oasis that sprawls along the sides of a sheltered valley. It’s a perfect spot for winter activities: you can go for a walk among the trees or enjoy cycling, horse riding, and wildlife watching from rare birds to roe deer.
Closer to home is WWT Washington Wetland Centre whose residents include includes swans, geese, ducks, a family of Asian short-clawed otters and a flock of Chilean flamingos. Make the most of the network of trails and bird hides on a crisp and frosty morning and look out for curlews, redshanks, redpolls, long-tailed tits, siskins and bullfinches.
Enjoy something more sedate?
Herrington Country Park, built on the site of a former colliery, offers walking trails, a boating lake and a play area; dogs are welcome. In the winter, you can enjoy a peaceful walk around the park's paths, taking in the tranquil lake and surrounding woodlands, and even try Nordic walking, a pole-walking technique which harnesses the power of the upper body to turn walking into a workout!
Just a short drive from Sunderland, Houghton-Le-Spring offers charming village walks, including a stroll around the historic Hetton Lyons Country Park.
Back in the city, explore the picturesque Mowbray Park in the centre and take a winter stroll among the trees, gardens and Victorian-era architecture. Or try a walk along the lesser-travelled banks of the River Wear to see Sunderland from a new perspective, taking in the several sculptures and art installations and enjoying the peace and tranquillity that the winter season brings.
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