7 Parks and Green Spaces in Sunderland That Changed My Outdoor Activities



Hey everyone, just wanted to share something cool that’s changed the game for my family and me. We started hitting up different parks around Sunderland, and honestly, it’s been a blast. Before, we’d just hang out in the backyard or hit the same old spots.

But exploring these parks? It’s like we found a whole new world of fun right in front of us From spotting wildlife to chilling by historical landmarks, it’s been awesome for us all. These were our favorite places:

1. Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve

This beautiful reserve is owned by Durham Wildlife Trust. It features wetlands, lakes, grasslands, and woodlands. It’s suitable for family visits all year round with activities like summer strolls and winter sledding which is amazing if you’re looking for a place to let your kids play freely. There’s also a café and an adventure play area for children.

The reserve has accessible pathways for exploration.

Opening times for the reserve are 24/7/365, with vehicle access from 9.30 am – 4.30 pm daily, and the visitor center is open from 10 am-4 pm seven days a week.

Location: Rainton Meadows DH4 6PU

2. Hetton Lyons Country Park

Hetton Lyons Country Park is a former colliery transformed into a park offering recreational opportunities.  The park incorporates over 100 acres, featuring a sporting lake, fishing lakes, football pitches, and part of the national cycling network.

The park hosted the British Cycling National Cyclo-Cross Championships in 2018.

Here you can encounter many bird species like coot, moorhen, tufted duck, heron, and reed bunting (which can be very interesting for the kids). In the park, you’ll find extensive walking paths to explore the surrounding countryside.

Location: Houghton le Spring DH5 0RH

3. Cox Green Riverside

I took my kids to Cox Green Riverside, and we all loved its serene, green landscapes. It’s a fantastic spot to enjoy both the riverside and the countryside. We spotted some wildlife, including otters and buzzards, which was a treat! The Victoria Viaduct, built in 1838, caught our eye, blending history with the natural beauty around us.

Location: Cox Green SR4 9JS

4. High Wood

High Wood sits beautifully on the north bank of the River Wear, offering a peek into ancient woodland life in the UK. My family was excited to see roe deer and kingfishers among other animals.

What truly stands out are the bluebells that cover the ground in late spring and early summer—it’s a breathtaking view.

Location: SR2 9QQ

5. The Secret Garden at Doxford Park


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The Secret Garden at Doxford Park includes a distinct walled garden, complete with a pond, an orchard, a wildflower meadow, and a woodland trail.

This area is dedicated to conservation efforts, providing a hands-on educational environment that schools and various groups frequently use.

Taking the kids there, we followed the woodland trail, which was both fun and educational. It’s great for learning about conservation and the importance of preserving natural habitats.

Note: The park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Location: SR2, SR3

6. Roker Park

I visited Roker Park with my kids, and it was a hit! This park offers a fantastic children’s play area, complete with a model railway and a small boating lake. My kids also got a kick out of the basketball and tennis courts.

What’s great is Marine Walk, filled with places to eat, it’s just a short walk from the park. Walking through, we stumbled upon the Roker Ravine at the park’s northern end. I was fascinated to learn that back in the 17th and 18th centuries, this ravine was a hotspot for smugglers.

There’s even a cave that was once the home of a sailor named Spottee, and rumors of a secret tunnel leading to St Peter’s church and Hylton castle.

Location: Roker Park Rd, Roker, Sunderland SR6 9NB

7. Backhouse Park

Our visit to Backhouse Park, named after a Quaker banking family and opened to the public in 1923, was memorable for its tranquility and natural beauty.  The park, with its beautiful beech trees and resident wildlife, including grey squirrels and a colony of parakeets, was perfect for leisurely strolls.

My family particularly enjoyed the vibrant autumn colors. Also, it’s a perfect place for a nice little picnic with friends, so our friend Robert and his wife and kids joined us and we had a wonderful time.

Location: Ryhope Rd, Sunderland SR2 2EF

All in all…

Wrapping it up, checking out these seven parks in Sunderland has really switched things up for us. We’ve learned a ton about nature, had some great laughs, and found some peace away from our screens. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your family time or just get out more, you’ve gotta give these spots a try. Trust me, it’s worth it.

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