The River Wear has some really scenic walking paths along side it, and the area of Cox Green and up to the Victoria Viaduct is no exception. In this post I will give you the best parking spots, the best picnic spots and an overview of the best trail Along the River Wear!
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Parking Along the River
There were a number of car parks along this stretch of river however, based upon safety and general feel of the place I reccomend you park in Cox Green itself. The other car parks are on the other side of the river but when walking through, they just didn’t feel like a place I would want to park (but this is my opinion).
There aren’t many spaces here though and we did see people parking on the verge. However if the car park is full, you could always give one of the other car parks a go.
Cox Green Car Park
Postcode: SR4 9JS
HM Viewing Area (North side of Cox Green Footbridge)
Postcode: NE38 8JZ
Riverside Walk Car Park
Postcode: NE38 8NW
South View Car Park (North side of the Victoria Viaduct)
Postcode: NE38 0RB
Mount Pleasent Lake
Postcode: DH4 7PU
Where to Eat
Picnic along the River
If you wantes to take a picnic and make a day of it, then great! I reccomend you do. As far as picnic spots go, the only two places that really come to mind are;
The field on the North side of the Cox Green footbridge. There are no picnic benches but you could take a blanket and sit on the field here with a bit of a view of the river.
Alternatively, you could sit besides the Mount Pleasent Lake which is near the Fat Field bridge on the south side of the river. There were a couple of picnic benches but you could also just take a blanket.
The one issue I have with this trial, because it isn’t really very well maintained, is that there are hardly any bins about. So if you do have a picnic or any kind of snacks, please take your rubbish with you!
Cafes and Pubs along the River
Perhaps one of the most well known places down here is The New Plough Tea Trailer. I have seen many people posting about it and went to try it for myself. Unfortunatley it was too busy to get a real feel for the place and give it a fair review. So I will go back and try it again.
At the other end of this trail, you find yourself tripping over pubs you could visit. Starting with The Biddick Inn which is open now for outside seating or take away (walk ins only).
Next you have The River Bar. I have heard many things about this place and it seems to be very well known for its cocktails. They have a pretty big outdoor seating area at the back and are taking bookings and walkins (Click here to book via their website).
And finally you have the Havelock. This place seems to be, what I would call, a proper pub. They have outdoor seating too and are taking walk ins only.
The Walking Trail Along the River
I am going to recomend that you follow the route that we did, however you can do this in whichever way you fancy. You could also have a look at some of the other bridges and history of the River Wear as written by me: Sunderlands Bridges and the River Wear
Above is a map of the area which as you can see, doesn’t show the riverside walking trail at all. But trust me, it is there!
Starting at Cox Green walk down to and corss over the footbridge here. Over the bridge you can get some lovely views in both direction and back over to coxgreen itself.
On the other bank, turn left, keeping the River Wear on your left too. You will walk through a car park and then through a field. This is one of the spots I suggested for a picnic as the grass it pretty flat.
If you keep going along this path you will eventually be rewarded with the view of the Victoria Viaduct.
Lets pause for a little history lesson.
History of the Victoria Viaduct
The Victoria Viaduct (previously known as the Victoria Bridge), was built as part of the Durham Railway. Construction finished on the day the Queen Victoria was coronated (June 28th 1838), hence its name Victoria. At that time it was one of the largest bridges in Europe. Many of the stones used to build it were quarried from Penshaws Sandstone Quarry.
The bridge itself was used for passenger trains as well as freight trains for a very long time. Untill the pasenger trains stopped in 1964 and then the freight traines stopped in 1991 when the freight terminal closed. The whole line was disused then.
The Viaduct is now Grade 2* listed however, it is gated off so you cant walk over it anymore (although people still do). It is still a great piece of the regions history and perfectly encapsulates the fall of industry in the North East.
Back to the route
The Viaduct is really astonishing to look at, and anyone who is interested in architechture will love this bridge!
From here you can continue following the path. After a short while you will end up on a street with very pretty old houses. This means that you have arrived at Fatfield. At the end of this street you will find the Fatfield Bridge.
On the other side of the road here is where you will find all those pubs I mentioned, and if you visit during blossom season, you will see all the beautiful blossom trees outside of the Biddick Inn pub.
If you cross over the bridge and turn left again, keeping the River Wear on your left, you will start the walk back down to cox green.
This side of the rivers path is a lot less steady as the other side so watch your footing.
Just a little down the path from the Fatfield Bridge, you will pass by the Mount Pleasent Lake. We didn’t explore this site very much however, it did look like a great picnic spot.
Not far before you arrive at the Viaduct again, look over the river to the left. When we visited there was a Herron nesting in the trees there so keep your eyes peeled for that!
When you go back under the viaduct, there will shortly be a sign that says 1 mile to Penshaw Monument, leading towards to stairs. If you wanted to extend this walk and climb up the monument then you absolutely could do this from here. I can’t find that trail on the map but keep an eye out!
Eventually you will end up back in Cox Green.
Summary of the Route
All in all, the route took us around an hour without stopping. The terrain is flat and very easy going. At no point are there any steep hills or anything like that. It is very pretty and the more people who visit, the more attention it gets and holefully someone steps in to make some proper paths and put some bins around.
The paths themselves are mainly mud tracks so in the winter or in bad weather they will be slippery and clarty so be careful and wear sensible shoes.
Things to Remember:
- Take any and all rubbish home with you if you cannot find a bin
- There are ducks and swans in the river to keep an eye on your dogs (and pick up after them)
- If you are wanting to visit any of the hospitality site I have mentioned then please don’t forget your mask for going inside public spaces
- Wear sensible footwear as the banks are muddy and can be very clarty when wet.
Thank you for reading this post, I hope you have enjoyed it. If you do follow this guide and do this route I would love to hear about it!
Stay Safe and Happy Adventuring!
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