“ Near Rowlands Gill, 6 miles South West of Gateshead. Telephone: (01207) 542255. Fax 01207 542255. It is now being restored by the National Trust. Check the website below for more information. „
Another National Trust property and one which I visit quite often because this is really close to my house...about 5 minutes in the car.
WHAT TO SEE...
There's plenty to see and do if you enjoy country estates. There is a chapel which was built in the mid 1700s as a mausoleum for George Bowes, and this was apparantly in the Palladium style. If this means lots of pillars and something quite out of character based on where it is, and the other buildings round it, then I'll go with that.
Leading from the chapel is a long wide grassy area, great for children to run about on , and this, not surprisingly is the Long walk which passes the walled Garden Green House, Gibside Hall and The Stables (these stables incorporate meeting rooms, anm can accommodate school visits). Continue along the walk and you arrive at the Column to Liberty which is a long column, and quite an unexpected "find". One of the things I like is that you can take a football to Gibside, and have a kick around without being told to get off the grass.
If you follow all the walks, there is a large pond, lily ponds, and a Banqueting House, all found along the walks through the woods. there is lots of wildlife and children enjoy the bird area, where there are feeding areas for the birds, and lots of information. As an aside, Gibside is part of the Northern Kites project, trying to introduce the birds back to Britain, so there are lots of people at hand ready to talk to you about birds!
ENTRANCE PRICES AND OPENING HOURS
Times vary depending on the time of the year; these are the summer times... Grounds 10am-6pm, Chapel 11am-4.30pm, Tea room and shop 11am-5pm, Stables 11am-4.30pm. It's probably worth checking out opening times and time of last admission if visiting.
The prices are adult, £5, child £3, and £15 for a family ticket (2 adults, 4 children)
There are lots of special events at Gibside, and we have enjoyed (on dry evenings) plays and concerts. One of the good things about it is that it's not "precious" about itself, and so you are able to take a picnic along, and just sit on one of the walks and get out your trestle tables and enjoy the music and the scenery as well as eating and drinking.
There are also lots of events aimed at children, such as seasonal crafts and children's trails; all at nominal fees. There is also a little booklet which children can collect (free) explaining all about the chapel and grounds, and suggesting things they can see and do.
Toilets are near the main entrance so make sure you go on arrival or head for the bushes. There is a basic baby changing facility in the toilets as well as toilets for disabled visitors, and they are usually clean
Play area...there is a small play area near the cafe, complete with tables, and chairs if you need a rest
The cafe sells a selection of drinks and food at the usual inflated prices, and the small shop sells a selection of the usual kind of gifts you get at these places.
Dogs are welcome on a lead, and there are disposal bins for any mess!
In the chapel, there is information about the area in Braille, and this is actually something little miss is interested in when she visits; just learning to read herself, she is fascinated by the fact that people can read with their fingers. For disabled people also, there are wheel chairs which can be borrowed but these have to be booked in advance.
WHAT I THOUGHT
as I said, we live very close to the chapel, and being a member of the National trust, it's one of those places we visit often, even if it's just for an hour to play in the play area.
There is plenty to see and do, and we go to lots of the activities, which are always well organised and if it's a craft session, children come away happy, having made something they can keep.
the countryside is beautiful, and just to walk around on a sunny day is really good, as there is lots of wildlife, and usually staff on hand to expolain things.
As a pleasant afternoon out, away from lots of people, this is great...tranquil and lots of things to see. Having spoken to people about the place, it also apparantl;y has quite a fascinating histroy, so instead of just going for the afternoon when the sun is shining, it's perhaps something I should do- read up about it.
For info on transport links and events, the telephone number is 01207 541820
Thanks for reading.
One of the country's greatest 18th century landscapes, the Gibside Estate was created by the industrialist George Bowes(a coal baron and land owner who was a member of the Queen Mother's family, the Bowes-Lyons) from 1730. Now in the hands of the National Trust and currently in the midst of an extensive renovation programme, which will eventually see the impressive Orangery, built by the Countess of Strathmore between 1772 and 1774, restored to its former glory as a production centre for flowers and exotic fruits in addition to the refurbishment of the stables and the construction of accomodation for school groups, Gibside is situated a mere 6km south west of Gateshead and possesses some of the finest views of the incredibly scenic Derwent Valley area. In addition to the numerous fine walks around the estate grounds, Gibside is perhaps most notable for the Palladian Chapel, which features an ornate portico and parapet, and the Statue to British Liberty(which is higher than Nelson's Column). A picture of the latter can be viwed at www.graeme-peacock.com/e_photographs/e-10.htm(there is a great selection of photographs of Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and County Durham on this website). The Chapel used to be notorious locally for the satanic rituals which took place there. Indeed, my friend tells a funny anecdote about the time he and some schoolfriends decided to attack the dancing devil satanists with an air rifle. Hiding on the edge of the woods, they took aim and hit one of the naked worshippers up the jacksy(as my grandfather used to say), causing him to jump several feet higher in the air than the choreography called for. In a blind panic, they ran home through woods and streams and lived the next few weeks in constant fear of reprisals. The best time to visit Gibside is probably late-Spring or Summer when the rhododendrons are in full bloom. However, the grounds are open year round, and with the Bowes Railway, Beamish Museum and the c
ity of Newcastle-upon-Tyne all a short drive away there are plenty other of attractions in the vicinity. Admission costs a more than reasonable three pounds for adults with family tickets(two adults plus four children) available for a bargain eight pounds. From the end of March until the end of October the grounds are open from 10am until 6pm(last admisssion ninety minutes before closing time) daily except Mondays(Bank Holidays excepted). From November until the 30th of March the closing time moves forward to 4pm. The Chapel is open from 11am until 4.30pm from the last day of March until the last day of October(visits by appointment only in the Winter). To get to Gibside by car follow the A694 to Rowlands Gill then take the B6314. Alternatively, from the A1, take the exit north of the Metro Centre and follow the brown signs. Public transport links are not exactly great, but you can catch the Go-Northern bus number 745 from Newcastle city centre. If you get lost, you can contact Gibside Visitor Services on 01207 542255 for more information.