Red Kite Trail
The lower Derwent Valley has a beautiful mixture of mature woodlands, wetlands and open countryside through which the Red Kite Trail meanders. The Trail, at just over 18 km (11 miles), can be walked over two days and guides visitors through this ideal kite country. It provides many opportunities to see red
kites and a variety of other wildlife, as well as passing areas of important historical and heritage interest.
Red kites are magnificent birds of prey. They are easy to
spot with their wingspan of just under two metres, colourful
plumage and distinctive forked tails. Kites mainly feed on
carrion but will also take some live prey, such as worms and
beetles. Their incredible agility in flight makes them a pleasure
Kites Return to the Region
During the 1800’s and 1900’s red kites
disappeared from much of the UK
due to human persecution. In 2004
the Northern Kites Project began to
return the kites to North East England,
after an absence of over 170 years.
This partnership project released 94
kites in Gateshead’s lower Derwent
Valley between 2004 and 2006. It was
in the last year of releases that kites
began to breed once again in the
The Red Kite Trail - a basic guide
The Red Kite Trail is a circular route starting and finishing at
Derwenthaugh Park car park at Winlaton Mill on the A694
(OS grid ref: NZ186609). It is identified by Red Kite Trail waymarkers
(in both directions) and can be walked either in two
stages over two days or as a longer walk in one day.
Stage One - Winlaton Mill to Lintzford, via
For the first 7.5 km (4 miles), the Trail follows the River Derwent
upstream through Derwenthaugh Park and the Derwent
Walk Country Park. The majority of this stage follows multiuser
routes on well-surfaced paths, accessible to wheelchairs
and pushchairs. Here the Trail passes the 2006 nesting site of
the first pair of kites to breed in North East England after their
return to the region.
The Trail continues through Rowlands Gill village where there
is the option to access the National Trust’s Gibside Estate.
Here you can catch the Red Kite bus to return to the start of
the walk, particularly for wheelchair and pushchair users who
would not be able to access the bus stops at Lintzford due
to Trail access on steep slopes. From Rowlands Gill the Red
Kite Trail then joins the Derwent Walk Railway Path before
connecting to a footpath to Lintzford. Here walkers can catch
the red kite bus to return to Winlaton Mill
Stage Two - Lintzford to Winlaton Mill, via
The second stage of the Trail, a 10.5 km (7 mile) stretch,
continues on a network of rights of way where rougher
surfaces, stiles and steep slopes are common. The Trail heads
from Lintzford through Chopwell Woodland Park and on to
Spen Banks Wood, which is often used as a winter roost by the
kites. The Trail then loops north to Barlow village, one of the
best places to see kites.
From Barlow the Trail continues on public footpaths back
to the A694 where it crosses into woodland. It passes the
Thornley Woodlands Centre before rejoining Derwenthaugh
Park where way-markers guide walkers back to the start of the
Trail at the car park.
A detailed Trail guide is available to download as a PDF
Red kites can be seen throughout the lower Derwent Valley
along with many other beautiful and sometimes rare wildlife.
Walking by the River Derwent provides opportunities to see
kingfisher, heron, dipper and sometimes the elusive otter.
The Trail passes through several woodlands that are full of
spring flowers such as bluebells and wood anemone, and
numerous fungi in the autumn. Bird life is also abundant with
regular sightings of great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch.
Many butterflies can also be seen in the summer, such as
common blue, large skipper and meadow brown.
Local History and Heritage
Much of the lower Derwent Valley has historically been
dominated by the mining industry, which was supported by
the construction of the Derwent Valley Railway (1867 to 1962).
The railway crossed the River Derwent on the magnificent
Nine Arches Viaduct, which is now a central feature of the
Derwent Walk Country Park.
One of the valley’s other defining features is the 40 metre tall
Column of Liberty in the Gibside Estate. This was the ancestral
home of the Bowes Lyons family built by George Bowes in
1750. The National Trust now manages the Estate.
The Red Kite Trail travels along many rights of way that allow
access to different users.
- Footpath - Pedestrians only.
Cycles and horse riders are not
allowed. No motor vehicles.
- Bridleway - Pedestrians, horses and cycles only. No motor
- Permissive - Access is granted and specified by the landowner.
No motor vehicles.
While following the Trail please obey the Countryside Code:
- Show consideration and respect for other users of the
- Keep dogs under close control at all times and take
particular care near livestock
- Leave gates and property as you find them or follow
instructions on the sign
- Follow paths and use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries
- Cyclists slow down and give way to walkers and horse
- Horse riders give way to walkers
- Protect plants and animals and take your litter home.
A range of visitor facilities such as toilets, pubs and
information centres are located along the Red Kite
Trail. These are highlighted on the Trail Map.
For local accommodation please contact Gateshead Tourist
Information on (0191) 478 4222.
Directions to the Red Kite Trail
The Red Kite Trail starts at Derwenthaugh Park car park at
By road… Take the A694 from the A1 just west of MetroCentre on
the outskirts of Gateshead.
By public transport… Catch Go North East’s ‘Red Kite’ bus (services
45, 46, 46a) from Newcastle’s Eldon Square Interchange, Central
Station (for mainline rail connections) or from the MetroCentre
Interchange (nearest local train station). For bus information visit
www.simplygo.com or telephone Traveline 0870 6082608. For
train information visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or telephone 08457
By bike… The Red Kite Trail through the Derwent Walk Country
Park is part of Sustrans’ C2C long distance cycle route. This connects
with Keelman’s Way, Consett and Sunderland Railway Path, Derwent
Walk Railway Path, Waskerley Way Railway Path and Lanchester
Valley Railway Path.
Red Kite Trail Contacts
Red Kite Trail and Kite Information:
- Northern Kites Project (0191) 496 1555
Rights of Way Issues:
- Gateshead Council Rights of Way Officer (0191) 433 3141,
- Gateshead Countryside Team (01207) 545 212 (for Derwenthaugh Park and Derwent Walk Country Park)
- Durham Co Council Rights of Way (0191) 383 3239
- Durham Co Council Countryside Rangers (0191) 383 3594 (for Derwent Walk Railway Path)
Local Tourist Information:
- Gateshead Tourist Information (0191) 478 4222