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If you are looking for a place to spend a day exploring and getting close to nature why not try the Rising Sun Country park? With woodland, ponds, a café and a farm, there is something for all the family.
The Rising Sun Country Park is one of North Tyneside’s best-kept secrets. The park covers 160 hectares (400 acres) of green space. It contains woodland, ponds, wetland, grassland, wildflower meadows, and organic farmland. I live locally and it is one of my favourite places to escape and enjoy nature. It is a great place for a family walk or cycle, with something new to discover on every visit.
The park is dog friendly and we often take our dog, Eddie, to explore. You do need to keep your dog on a lead in the nature reserve, the Countryside Centre grounds, or near the farm. Plenty of dog bins are provided for disposing of waste.
How to get there and parking
If you are visiting by car you will find the entrance signposted from the A191 Whitley Road just at the end of Asda Benton’s car park. There is a wooden sign with Rising Sun Country Park on it with a picture of a stag and some miners. Drive along this road and you will find the Rising Sun Countryside Centre with free parking. Disabled parking is available.
Rising Sun Country Park Address:
Rising Sun Countryside Centre
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear
Alternatively, you can enter the park near the Rising Sun Farm. It is accessible from Kings Road, Wallsend, just off Mullen Road. It is a short drive and there a parking place halfway along the road and limited parking at the farm.
Rising Sun Farm Address
The Rising Sun Farm,
Kings Road North,
Tyne and Wear,
By Bus or Metro
You can also get the bus to Benton Asda and the countryside centre is a short walk along the path. The nearest metro station is Palmersville. The park is around a ten to fifteen minutes walk.
Rising Sun Countryside Centre and Café
The countryside centre is a great place to stop for something to eat or just to relax and enjoy the views over the open countryside. As well as toilets and a café, there is an exhibition centre and a children’s play area.
You can pick up maps and information leaflets about the Rising Sun Country Park inside the countryside centre.
Outside you will find picnic benches and a barbecue area where you can enjoy food on a sunny day. If you don’t want to bring your own food why not visit the café?
Countryside Centre Facilities:
- Free parking
- Cafe with terrace and park views
- Toilet facilities
- Picnic area
- BBQ area
- Children’s play area and sandpit
- Water play area (this is currently not in use)
- Information leaflets and maps of the walking trails
- Venue hire
- Events program and activities.
Rising Sun Café
The Rising Sun Café is a nice place to stop for refreshments. Currently offering takeaway, including freshly made sandwiches, scones, homemade breakfasts, cakes alongside snacks, ice cream and drinks. The food is prepared to order and the café uses locally sourced produce.
There is outdoor seating on the terrace with a lovely view across the park and pond from its raised position.
In addition, the café provides employment and training to adults with learning difficulties, which is something worth supporting.
Cafe Opening hours:
The cafe is open:
- Monday to Friday: 9 am – 3.30 pm
- Weekends and bank holidays: 10.30 am – 3.30 pm
Fatkin Mole Carving
The Fatkin Mole carving stands outside the countryside centre. The sculpture is the creation of Marjan Wouda. The Rising Sun Country park was originally the site of several coal pits. The statue commemorates the closing of the Rising Sun coal Pit and the last miner clocking off. It carries the name of the last miner to work in the mine. Looking at his skin you can see the marks of ropes, cogs, and drills. He is carrying a pick and a trowel which he would use when mining.
Rising Sun Community Farm
The Rising Sun Farm is an organic working farm covering 80 hectares at the south of the country park. It is also a livery yard so there are lots of horses. It is an easy walk from the countryside centre and is free to visit.
There are lots of different animals to see and it varies each time we visit. This time we saw donkeys and Shetland ponies in the fields, alpacas in the shed, and piglets running around. It is a lovely place to wander around.
Sometimes you can buy vegetables and eggs from the farm shop or the stall with an honesty box. There are some picnic tables so you can sit outside.
The farm is also home to the DLS Falconry birds of prey centre and the Earth and Fire Artisan bakery.
DLS Falconry Birds of Prey Centre
DLS Falconry is a haven for over 30 birds of prey that you can visit and admire. You also have an option to hold a bird for a nominal fee. There is also the option of booking a hawk walk for £30 where you learn to handle a raptor and take a walk with it in the park.
DLS Falconry also rescue and rehabilitate raptors who are in trouble in the wild. It is a great place to visit birds of prey in North East England.
DLS Falconry also rescue raptors who are in trouble in the wild
The centre is open everyday from 9am and entry is free.
Earth and Fire Bakery
The Earth and Fire Bakery is an artisan bakery inside the Rising Sun Farm buildings. It is a wood-fired bakery that produces artisan loaves as well as a range of cakes and sweet treats. You can buy refreshments to enjoy whilst you are at the farm.
They also offer baking classes at various times during the year.
If you live in the local area they offer free bread and egg delivery, minimum spend £7. You can find the details on their Facebook page
The bakery is open between 9 and 3 on weekdays, except Mondays and 9-4 on weekends
Rising Sun Country Park Walking Trails and Orientering Trails
The Rising Sun Country Park has lots of walking trails, bridleways and cycleways to explore.
There are a number of walking trails through the Rising Sun Country park, these start at the visitor centre and are well labelled with coloured arrows. Maps are available in the visitor centre or online
Main Walking Trails
The routes vary in difficulty. The Green trail is 1.2 miles and takes about 20 minutes. The walk takes you around the swallow pond, the large pond that is visible from the visitor’s centre. There are a couple of bird hides overlooking the pond where you can view the ducks, geese moorhens, and other birds.
The brown or heritage trail is the longest at 2.4 miles taking an hour and a half to two hours. It goes right around the park. The blue and red trail are intermediate trails, the blue trail takes about 30 minutes and the red trail about 50 minutes. The red and brown trail are unsuitable for wheelchairs.
The walk to the farm from the visitor centre is easy and flat. It is about two miles.
If you feel energetic you can climb the pit hill where you get a lovely view of the surrounding area.
Dukes Pond Trail
The park has been recently extended to include a walking trail around Dukes pond. Dukes pond is a smaller man-made lake that catches the overspill from the houses at Holystone. You will spot a lot of birds here. Be careful of the swans during nesting season. When visiting when my son was younger we got stalked by a rather aggressive swan.
You don’t need to follow a trail, you can just wander and discover the different habitats that make up the park. We walked quite a long way and found woodland trails, and dipping ponds with special viewing platforms.
You will find information on placards about the Rising Sun Country Park’s history and wildlife along the paths which make interesting reading.
The Rising Sun Country Park also has a number of permanent orienteering trails where you need to follow a map to visit the markers in the correct order. If you fancy a challenge and have a compass why not download the map and give this a try?
Keep your eyes open for the wildlife. There are fields of horses and plenty of flowers. If you are lucky you might spot a rabbit, pheasant or fox. There are also deer roaming the park. Whilst most of these are shy, you might spot Colin the stag near the horses in the countryside centre. He loves to pose for a photo.
The Rising Sun Country park is home to a large variety of wild birds including owls and other birds of prey. There are plenty of waterfowl on the large Swallow pond and the other smaller ponds. If you are lucky you might hear or spot a lapwing.
At this time of the year the three dipping ponds are teaming with wildlife. We saw little fish, tadpoles, dragonflies and rather a lot of pond skaters. If you had a fishing net and a jam jar this would provide an interesting distraction for children. Don’t forget to put them back before you leave!
History of Rising Sun Park
Interestingly the Country park is on the site of the Rising Sun Colliery and the Scaffold Hill Isolation Hospital.
Scaffold Hill Isolation Hospital
Scaffold Hill Isolation Hospital was officially opened in 1914 and was built to house sufferers of tuberculosis, scarlet fever, and measles. The main cause of admission in the first forty years of its life was diphtheria and tuberculosis. In those days scarlet fever and measles could be fatal and many families lost one or more children to these infections.
The conditions in the hospital were very different from hospitals today. Children could be in the hospital for six to eight weeks. Family could not visit, they had to wave from the railings outside.We are lucky today that we have inoculation to prevent these diseases.
The hospital finally closed its doors in 1986. The building is now part of the countryside centre.
There are two theories as to why the hill is called Scaffold Hill. The first is that there was a scaffold there for hanging people. The second is that a scaffold was mounted there to watch the steeplechase that used to run from Murton to Benton in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
The Rising Sun Colliery first produced coal in 1908 and was closed in 1969. It was one of the largest mines of its type in Europe. Two of the pits that operated here were the Rising Sun Colliery and the Moor Edge Colliery. In 1960 475,871 tons of coal were produced therefore it was a busy pit.
Other industrial activities took place in the park. For instance, there was also a brickworks, quarry, and household rubbish tip on the grounds. The brickworks provided bricks for the colliery.
After the colliery was closed the pit heap was landscaped into Rising Sun Hill. In 1953 some of the mine workings collapsed forming Swallow pond.
Through the middle of the park runs the Waggonway. At the height of the pit working this transported coal from the local collieries to the river using horse-drawn wagons. In 1813 it was the site of the first steam engine trials and George Stephenson trialled some of his engines here.
Looking at the park today it is really hard to believe that this used to be a really heavily industrial area
Park Opening Times
Admission to the park is free. The park is open at all times every day of the year
Centre grounds: Open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday; and 9am to 4.30pm on Saturday, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Countryside Centre Car Park: Open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday; and 9am to 4.30pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
More information and Maps
You can find more information about the parkm download a printable map and see the cafe menu on the North Tyneside website.
The Rising Sun Countryside centre has disabled parking and is accessible for disabled people. There is a disabled toilet in the countryside centre and in the Environmental Education Building which hosts events and school visits.
The blue and green walking trails are wheelchair accessible.
The Tim Lamb Centre is accessible from the Countryside centre carpark. This is a specialist centre for children and young people with disabilities and special needs aged 0 -25. It is wheelchair accessible with a disabled toilet. The following facilities are available:
- Soft play area and café
- Sensory room
- Multipurpose hall with indoor trampolines
- Games room for teenagers and a computer suite
- Large fully enclosed outdoor playground with inclusive play and sensory equipment.
You do need to be a member of pathways4all to use the facilities but you can join on your first visit.
Due to covid the centre is currently shut but hopefully will be reopening on the 21st June.
Tim Lamb Centre, Rising Sun Country Park, Whitley Road, Benton. NE12 9SS
Please follow the countryside code, take only photographs and leave only footprints.
Follow social distancing rules and Government guidelines, wash hands regularly and use alcohol hand gel (especially before eating). If you have any Coronavirus symptoms, please stay at home and follow NHS advice.
Before leaving please check the opening hours, guidelines, and charges on the venue’s website as there may have been changes since this post was published.