Connect with Nature

News — Connect with Nature


The Galleries is proud to support Mental Health Awareness Week 2021. This year’s theme is all about Connecting with Nature, and we want to inspire you to connect with nature in new ways and notice the impact this can have on your mental health.

Connecting might be as simple as tending to a house plant, listening to the birds, touching the bark of trees, smelling flowers or writing a poem about your favourite nature spot.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re encouraging you to do three things:


Take time to grow your connection with nature. Take time to notice nature in your daily life, you might be surprised by what you see! Visit our dedicated web page and discover local nature spots.


To support Mental Health Awareness Week and the ‘Connect with Nature’ theme, we are organising a Litter Pick at Princess Anne Park on
Thursday 13th May at 10am
All volunteers are welcome, please meet at Everyone Active. Equipment will be provided. See you there!


Take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week, to inspire others.

Tag us in @GalleriesWashington, use the hashtags #ConnectWithNature


Where to discover nature locally

Would it surprise you that Washington & Sunderland is home to an array of Nature spots teaming with wildlife? It shouldn’t. Browse the list below for more information on all nature and wildlife experiences on offer locally.


Princess Anne Park

Next to the Galleries and the Everyone Active Leisure Centre, Princess Anne Park is a fantastic place to walk, run, take the dogs with marked 1km, 2km and 3km routes: Princess Anne Park – Sunderland City Council

The park also has an active Friends group and more information on them can be found here: Friends of Princess Anne Park, Washington. | Facebook

Off Parkway, Washington NE38 7QZ

Albany Park

Visit one of Washington’s parks with extensive grassed areas and woodland plantations. Situated next to the ‘F’ Pit Museum in Albany.

Albany Park, Washington NE37 1AS

Herrington Country Park

One of the largest parks in Sunderland with walks and cycle trails, family cycling with Sustrans, an adventure play area, skate boarding, Nordic walking, model boat sailing in the lake and a variety of sculptures that celebrate the heritage of the area.

Herrington Country Park, Houghton-Le-Spring DH4 7EL


Washington Wetland Centre 

Washington Wetland Centre area is home to exotic birds, amazing insects, beautiful wild scenery and so much more. Here you can experience wonderful wildlife up close and have a great family day out as you discover 45 hectares of stunning wetlands and woodland on the River Wear.

Washington Wetland Centre | WWT

Pattinson Road, Washington, NE38 8LE

Roker and Seaburn Beaches

Sunderland’s Blue Flag award winning beaches are ideal for traditional family seaside fun. Sunderland’s twin beaches at Roker and Seaburn are the perfect place to unwind. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to let the kids run off some excess energy or to sit and relax with a picnic; there’s miles of beautiful coastline from which to choose the best spot.

Nature Reserves

Lamesley Pastures Nature Reserve

One of the few undeveloped river floodplains in the area, Lamesley Pastures contains two designated Local Wildlife Sites.

Gateshead, NE11 0ER

Herrington Hill Nature Reserve

An extensive area of magnesian limestone grassland with all the classic indicator species that define this internationally rare plant community.

West Herrington, DH4 4NP

Edmonsley Wood Nature Reserve

A mixed deciduous woodland situated on an ancient woodland site

Edmondsley DH7 6FG

For more information visit: Nature Reserves | Durham (


Penshaw Circular Walk.

This is a 4 mile (6.5km) walk starting from the foot of Penshaw Monument.

The route offers great views of Penshaw Monument and the surrounding countryside as well as covering a number of interesting historical features and locations, including:

Penshaw Monument

Penshaw Monument was built in honour of John Lambton, the 1st Earl of Durham. It’s foundation stone was laid on 28 August 1844. The monument is based on the design of the Theseion, the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. It was built using £6,000 raised by public subscription and is one of Wearside’s most iconic landmarks.

Victoria Viaduct

This bridge is one of the most impressive stone viaducts in Britain. Named after Queen Victoria, the final stone of this bridge was laid on her Coronation Day, 28 June 1838. It is said that its design was inspired by a 2nd century Roman bridge in Spain. The viaduct was built to carry rail traffic over the Wear and was the main rail line between Newcastle to London until 1872. It closed in 1991.

Alice Well

Close to the river bank near the footbridge at Cox Green lies the site of Alice Well. Until the Second World War this was the source of the local community’s water supply. It was bricked up until the 1980s when it was reopened due to popular demand.


The heavily wooded, picturesque riverside setting of Coxgreen belies its industrial past. In the 19th century this area was a hive of activity as a result of the coal trade, local ship building and quarrying industries. Coal was carried by wagons down to the river to keel boats which would then transport the coal on to awaiting ships close to the mouth of the river.

Penshaw Railway

This disused railway line forms part of the old Penshaw railway which was established in 1852 to carry freight to Hendon. In 1853 it began operating a passenger service into Sunderland town centre. The line is now a popular route used by cyclists and joggers. It eventually leads to South Hylton and the Tyne and Wear Metro line.

Penshaw Woods

Site of Penshaw Quarry owned by the Marquis of Londonderry, this is now an attractive broadleaf woodland.

For more ideas visit: Great Outdoors | See it Do it Sunderland

Local mental health resources

Check out our local guide to accessing help with your mental health. 



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