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Valley Park in Summer

One of the largest green spaces in Cramlington, Northumberland, and we've got to know it pretty well over the last few years, exploring as the seasons change and revealing what is hidden at other times of the year.

Valley Park sits in the South of Cramlington, between the Southfield Green and Lea housing estates and the busy A1171. A cycle track splits the park into two sections, and there are established paths on both sides, and you could easily spend a couple of hours here exploring all that there is to see. The West side is the shortest walk, winding through a wood of broad-leaf trees, and looping back round to the cycle track. The East side is made up of woodland, wetlands, meadow and grassland and is a much longer walk - definitely my personal favorite of the two as you can really feel as though you’re out deep in the country.

Woodland Path - Valley Park, Cramlington
The cycle track which runs through from Southfield Green to the A1171

If you're on the lookout for wild food, you won't have to go far. There are plenty of Nettles, Jack-by-the-Hedge, Hawthorn and Elder trees growing along the cycle track and on the outskirts of the field and meadow too. Once your walking along the woodland trail on the East side, the Nettles form a thick forest of their own on the woodland floor during the Summer so venturing off the track can be difficult in places. If you’re lucky you might spot the occasional mushroom, but again you’ll probably have to venture off the path for that, as no doubt any on the path will have already been snaffled up by a lucky passer-by.

Woodland Path Valley Park, Cramlington
The path leading through the East side.

There is a stream running through the woods, which leads to what was once a beautiful wetland, with a wooden boardwalk. While the stream is still very much a prominent part of the woods, the wetlands have become incredibly overgrown and is now just boggy ground. The boardwalk, while still there, unless you knew about it, its quite difficult to find and you need to scramble across several lying Willow trees to be able to walk its full length, and wade through brambles and nettles to reach it. Although not what it once was, the wetlands are still truly spectacular, and there is nothing else quite like it Cramlington. It’s a true hidden spectacle of wildflowers and willows, completely hidden from the main path. You'll find the usual telltale signs of pond still remain though - Bulrushes, Valerian and Iris can be found growing in this part of the wood.

The old boardwalk

If you do manage to make your way through the undergrowth to find the jetty, be prepared if you want to walk all the way across - its not for the faint of heart! There are several lying trees and sections of the walk missing, so you'll have to climb over.

If you like wildflowers, then be sure to have a good walk around the grass meadow and along the stream edges. Red campions, Cuckoo flowers and Teasels are just a few you'll come across. I've created a printable Treasure Hunt for a few of the flowers you can find at Valley Park which you can download for free here. Its a great way to get the kids outside exploring, and learning about wild plants too! Try pairing it with some fun stickers to check them off as they go.

Valley Park Summer Wildflowers-1
Download PDF • 538KB

If you make it round to the far East side, be sure to try and find the old Oak tree. Its been vandalised a few times, set on fire and used for swings and tree houses, but it still stands tall and true. Its in full leaf right now, and soon it will be heavy with thousands of tiny acorns. Its by far one of the grandest trees in the wood and, as Oak trees tend to have a habit of doing, seems to stand as if watching over the rest of the park, privy to its many secrets.

An Oak Tree - Valley Park, Cramlington
The Old Oak Tree

If you're lucky enough, and come quietly very early in the morning, you might catch a glimpse of some of Valley Park's true residents -Roe deer. You're more likely to spot their white tales bobbing away through the undergrowth, than to see them eye to eye, but they're still an enchanting sight to see. With noisy children in toe, I consider myself lucky if I see a couple of rabbits darting back to their burrows, or the occasional Grey Squirrel scampering back up a tree.

As much as I enjoy being able to explore the woods more in Summer, as we've passed the Longest Day, I'm already counting down the days to Autumn. For me, nothing beats a woodland walk in Autumn, snacking on wild blackberries, gathering acorns, and foraging for mushrooms. But Summer comes in behind at a close second. A gentle walk picking wild flowers and waiting for the fruits to grow, it's a wonderful place to while a way a few hours, hiding from the Summer heat.

The Councillors for Cramlington Southeast Ward are currently in the process of setting up a Friends of Valley Park association, with the aim to protect the woodland and to encourage it in anyway they can. If anyone would like to know more about the plans, has any questions or would just like be kept informed then you can contact them via the Southfield Green and Lea Facebook groups or their information can be found on the Town Council website here.

A new addition to one of the little bridges.



The Cramlington Forager

Here I share my own recipes which I use to make the most of seasonal wild food. You'll find handy foraging guides and plant profiles to help get to know the plants which grow all around us, and to start you down your own foraging journey.


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