Fairy trail of more than 50 mini homes and doors set to enchant visitors to Sunderland park

From tree top homes to ground level doorways leading to hidden dwellings, a new fairy trail is set to enchant visitors to Backhouse Park.

Friday, 29th July 2022, 3:36 pm

More than 50 wooden structures, including fairy signs, doors, homes and lanterns, have been installed at the historic park in Ashbrooke as part of a summer of community activities.

It follows the success of last year’s trail, which brought some cheer during lockdown, but it has returned for 2022 with even more fairy homes to find.

The project is one of many run by ICOS (International Community Organisation of Sunderland), East Rangers and Friends of Backhouse Park in a bid to improve the park experience for visitors.

A new fairy trail has been launched in Backhouse Park

Daniel Krzyszczak, from ICOS, said: “It’s a challenge for kids who might find them all in one go, but there are so many they might struggle, so they will need to come back and look again. People love it, and kids love it too.”

This year marked the park’s centenary as it was in 1922 that Thomas William Backhouse gifted the park, formerly Ashburne Park, to the Corporation of Sunderland, which named it Backhouse Park in his honour.

Hugely influential on Wearside, the Backhouses were Quaker bankers who had the house and gardens built for them. They left a rich legacy in the city and it was philanthropist Edward Backhouse who became one of the founding fathers of the Sunderland Echo in 1873.

Unlike other parks in the city, Backhouse Park is a little less manicured as it encourages wildflower growth for insects and other wildlife.

The trail runs throughout the park

Daniel said: “We like to keep it like a woodland and this year we have new additions, some new apple and cherry trees. In November, we will also be planting another 105 trees.”

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The story of Sunderland's Ashburne House and the incredible Backhouse family

St Michael’s Ward Councillor, Michael Dixon, said: “It was a great pleasure for myself and colleagues, Lyall Reed and Peter Wood, to give our support when we recommended funding to the Council’s East Area Committee for the Fairy Trail now in place throughout Backhouse Park.

"It is a brilliant layout and a big thank you to our East Rangers, with Daniel Krzyszczak from ICOS in the lead, and also the many volunteers. The timing is great with the school holidays just started and is one of several very interesting projects that the East Rangers and Friends of Backhouse Park are organising in the weeks ahead. So please come along.”

There's more than 50 structures to find

There are a number of events taking place at the park throughout August, including:

*Every Friday from 12.30pm to 3pm there will be litter picks, gardening and landscaping

*On Mondays from 11am to 1pm, kids activities including art and craft sessions, environmental sessions and walks in the park.

*On Saturday, August 13, from noon until 3pm, there is a teddy bears picnic taking place, which is a joint venture by the Friends of Backhouse Park and neighbouring Barley Mow park, which will also include a bake sale, games, sports and arts and crafts. All children are welcome with their parents / guardians and teddies. All you need is your own picnic.

The trail runs throughout the holidays
Cllr Michael Dixon with Daniel Krzyszczak from ICOS
The fairy trail at Backhouse Park
The fairy trail at Backhouse Park