Local Wildlife

If you want a FREE listing on the Site then let us know HERE giving details about type of Wildlife related group or event etc. name, address, phone and web site if available.

Deerness Valley Railway Path

About the site

Greater Knapweed
Greater Knapweed
This line was opened in 1858 and carried coal out of the valley for nearly a hundred years. Now it is a pleasant walk, which follows the River Deerness through a wooded and pastoral landscape.

From Broompark follow the Deerness Valley Walk sign. The track runs high above the river valley and passes through arable and grazing land. This area has had restricted access due to the railway and steep valley slopes and much of it has escaped intensive improvement. Consequently, a number of original landscape features and herb rich meadows remain.

The railway path and adjacent land provides a corridor from fells near Hedleyhope in the west to Durham City and the River Wear. Kingfishers and herons use the river and green woodpeckers, finches, warblers, jays and many other common woodland birds are abundant. Butterflies include meadow brown, common blue and large skipper.


common blue butterfly
Common Blue

A wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees have colonised the railway walk. Birch, sycamore and oak with bird cherry, wild cherry and hazel grow adjacent to the path. Common knapweed, greater knapweed and field scabious are abundant in places together with crosswort, red campion and meadow crane's-bill.

At Ushaw Moor Car Park the track crosses the river for the first time. Alder carr with swathes of butterbur edge the riverbanks and dippers can be seen flying along the river. The River Deerness is one of the cleanest rivers in County Durham and many fish can be seen from the bridges. The wooded banks here provide shelter for owls and red squirrel. Even hare and roe deer can be seen on a quiet day.

Around Flass Hall, the land opens out into meadows with a more park-like appearance. The pasture contains a variety of grasses along with betony and devil's bit scabious.
Woodland adjacent to the path is a mix of plantation and deciduous. 

It runs near to ancient sites such as Ragpath Wood, whilst other woodland is mature ash and sycamore, with colourful displays of bluebell, lesser celandine and wood anemone in the spring time.

From Hedley Hill Terrace, the track climbs through deciduous woodland that includes some large, old oak trees. At the top of the railway path, the land was once opencast and has now been reclaimed and planted with trees.

Deerness Valley Railway Path - Map

Deerness Valley Railway Path


Broompark Picnic Area is ½ mile from Stonebridge on the B6302 road to Ushaw Moor This leads directly onto the Railway Path.

Grid reference: NZ 251 415 - car parking is available here.


There is a car park and picnic area at Broompark and Ushaw Moor. Parking is also available in Esh Winning.


Durham County Council,
Environment and Technical Services,
County Hall,
DH1 5UQ.

Telephone: 0191 3834083


Ragpath Wood

About the Site

Ragpath Wood is a large mixed woodland located on the steep hillside above the River Deerness, in this attractive and well-wooded valley.

It forms part of a larger area of woodland that occupies the southern slopes of the Deerness Valley overlooking the old mining village of Esh Winning.

An old railway line, now forming part of the Deerness Valley Railway Path, separates the wood from houses of the village.

In many areas on the steep slopes the scrub layer is typical of heathland with heather, bilberry, gorse and broom. Along the flatter areas by the river, soils are richer and there are carpets of ramsons, wood anemone and wood sorrel, with areas of butterbur. The name ramsons is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word hramsa, meaning rank. This refers to the strong garlic smell given off by this species, which is also known as wild garlic. A number of fern species are also found in damper parts of the wood.

Ragpath Wood

Location Take the A690 south west out of Durham. Turn right onto the B6302 through Ushaw Moor towards Esh Winning. The wood is situated on the hillside to the left of the road.


Two bridleways and a public footpath cross the site and there are also permissive paths: all of which are well used.


Woodland Trust
Autumn Park
Dysart Road
NG31 6LL

Tel: 01476 581111