West Park is an urban nature reserve on a 12 hectare site in the centre of the West Park village development and is the first public park created in Darlington for 100 years. There is over 30 acres of woodland, wildflower meadows and wetlands, which is now enjoyed by people and wildlife alike.
There are approximately 46,000 trees on West Park Nature Reserve planted with care to construct a feeling of natural woodland, but designed around winding paths and features.
The sites increasing range in habitat diversity encourages an ever increasing number of birds including the rare Kingfisher and insects and butterflies including the rare Dingy Skipper. Events have included night-time bat walks, which is a great way to see just how many of them can be found here.
The largest natural play park in Darlington is here with a sand pit, slide, boulders and a tree house accessed by a rope bridge. It is built into the landscape, and encourages children to use their imagination to create their own games.
West Park has a new purpose built bike track; keen BMX and Mountain bike riders have created a track which is accessible to beginners, but challenging to more practised riders too.
The layout of West Park was designed with especially commissioned pieces of art and poetry. The art takes the form of massive stone and steel sculptures, made by nationally renowned artist David Paton. Walking along the winding paths amongst the trees, you are lead to sightlines that frame the artwork in impressive views. The poet, W N Herbert, has created phrases and stories that echo Darlington's past and present, and these are a central piece in the artwork and bridges around West Park.
There is limited parking next to the park entrance. The park can be found next to Mill Garage on West Auckland Road on A68.
This former iron work site is now an attractive 5 hectare Local Nature Reserve (LNR) situated between the famous Darlington to Stockton railway line and the A67.
The meadows at the Whinnies boast a diverse and rare mix of grassland plants with 15 species of grass, including frequent patches of Quaking-grass and Heath-grass. Amongst over 50 wild flowers present are Devil’s-bit Scabious, Umbellifer Pepper-Saxifrage, Yellow-Rattle, Dyer’s-greenweed and autumn Gentian.
There are some surfaced footpaths through the site which are suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. It is used by local dog walkers, joggers and visiting naturalists. The site is great place for watching for butterflies and birds. Notable bird species present on site include Reed bunting, Lapwing, Curlew, Skylark, Tree sparrow, Linnet, Bullfinch, Yellow hammer and Kestrel. During the summer months the ponds are a great place to watch Dragonflies and Damselflies.
The site is open all year round and the gates on the site are suitable for wheelchair users. However, the unsurfaced section off Old Yarm Road is unsuitable for wheelchair users and push chairs.
The Whinnies is located just off the A67 between the edge of Middleton St George and Durham Tees Valley airport.
There are a number of bus stops in Oak Tree.
For information on bus services and other public transport please contact: Traveline NorthEast on 0870 608 2608 or
Rockwell Local Nature Reserve
This is Darlington’s largest and most popular nature reserve. It has excellent access for visitors including disabled access and a cycle route, linking the centre of Darlington with the wider countryside.
Ten years ago this site was restored to its present form with assistance from Darlington Borough Council and a Friends Group developing the site. New meanders and pool features were created along the banks of the River Skerne and lately the site forms part of Darlington Meadows Project and its educational use is promoted widely. Volunteers are involved with tree and bulb planting, they host family bat walks, manage litter picks, conduct wildlife surveys and habitat management.
Today the site is the most likely place to see the rare and highly endangered Water Vole, along with healthy fish populations, Kingfisher and Otter.
Grid Ref: NZ 302 159
Maidendale Local Nature Reserve
Located next to a major housing estate, the Maidendale Nature & Fishing Reserve provides local people with a chance to access the natural environment right on their doorstep. It has a carefully managed mixture of habitats, which attract a variety of wildlife, and also provides a quality facility for keen anglers. This newly created site, on the southeast edge of town and bounded by farm land to the west was designed with both local people and wildlife in mind.
The site was established in 2002 from former agricultural land as a conservation and recreation facility created to encourage, promote and enhance sustainable recreation, nature conservation and education. There are three disabled access entrances and a network of footpaths (pushchair and wheelchair friendly), pond dipping platforms and board walks.
A Friends Group was set up in 2011-12 and works with Darlington Borough Council to encourage greater diversity and numbers of wildlife. The group meet to litter pick, repair paths and manage the scrub and meadow.
There are cycleways throughout the site and a walk up to Sculpture Hill provides views over the reserve, Darlington town and the surrounding farmland.
Grid Ref: NZ 3113