Peterlee offers a clean environment in a smokeless zone. One of it’s most prominent features are the acres of grassed areas which are jealously guarded by the Town Council against possible development.
Also found in Peterlee is Yoden Village Quarry, a site of national importance in geographical conservation. The site of Special Scientific Interest is a key site for the study of magnesium limestone flora and fauna.
To the South, Peterlee is bordered by one of the finest woodlands in the North East – Castle Eden Dene. This magnificent wooded valley stretches 3.5 miles from the A19 trunk road, eastwards, joining the coast at Denemouth, between Horden and Blackhall Colliery. It is the largest of the many coastal denes (valleys) of East Durham. Over 50 acres of the valley are protected as a National Nature Reserve and cared for by Natural England, who ensure that this special site is conserved for future generations to enjoy.
The erosive power of Castle Eden Burn has created this steep sided Dene, which now runs over 100ft lower than the surrounding fields and houses. In the Winter, the burn gushes and gurgles through dramatic ravines, whilst in Summer it disappears underground. The dense woodland that forms a mantle over the valley is varied, oak, ash, beech, sycamore and lime grow, scattered with alder and birch. The valley is renowned for it’s yew trees. These long live evergreen trees thrive on the cliff sides, their twisted gnarled trunks and exposed roots give the Dene a magical atmosphere.
Local people have, for generations, enjoyed walking in and caring for the Dene. Natural England maintain over 12 miles of footpath for visitors to explore and people are asked to keep to these so the wildlife of the site is not disturbed. The Dene is constantly changing with the seasons, so there is always something new to see. Guided walks and group visits can be arranged, or you can get involved through exciting wildlife events and volunteer programmes.
The reserve is open at all times and access is via numerous entrances from Peterlee. You may also begin your visit from the reserve car park at Oakerside Dene Lodge:
Oakerside Dene Lodge
Telephone: 0191 586 0004