After what felt like an eternity, I had finally planned to see a few of my friends for the first time since lockdown. As one of them lives in Sunderland, and I hadn’t been there since leaving my previous job, we decided to meet up at one of my favourite areas: Penshaw Monument and Herrington Country Park.
We picked a day with great weather and drove separately to meet at the bottom of the hill where Penshaw Monument sits.
There’s no official car park for the monument, so it’s a case of parking on the side of the road. Thankfully, there was a couple of spaces.
I’m no stranger to the steps up the hill to the monument. However, each time I go, I forget how steep they are. We decided to take the path halfway, which kept us shaded from the sun under the trees. Then, we headed to the monument. Similarly to Roseberry Topping, it wasn’t easy trying to keep a 2m distance to others on such narrow paths. But, we tried our best.
At the top of Penshaw Hill, the monument is so big, it’s pretty easy to keep your distance. It’s in the style of a Doric temple, so each gap between the beams is a perfect spot to keep distance from each other and keep 2m from the person you are with.
After taking in the views across Houghton and Washington, and having a lovely catch-up, we headed back down the steps where an ice-cream van had pulled up. But, we didn’t take that opportunity as we saw that the Farm Shop’s café was open further down the road.
Penshaw Farm Shop in Houghton has a lovely Tea Room just a five minute walk from the monument. For obvious reasons, indoor seating isn’t available but they have set out picnic benches 2m from each other. So, it’s easy to enjoy their takeaway food outside.
I chose a sweet chilli chicken and pepper bun with ready salted crisps which was only £3.50. Plus, I treated myself to a homemade white chocolate and lemon scone. That was only £1 and it was so scrumptious. I’d go back to the tearoom just for another scone.
Herrington Country Park
When I was living in Sunderland, I used to love going to Herrington Park to feed the swans. The space is huge so it’s almost impossible to struggle to keep your distance. Plus, it’s only a five minute drive or a short walk from the Farm Shop.
As the numerous car parks were full (to be fair, it was a Saturday), a couple of us parked on the grass.
We took a walk along the path when I realised Spring had definitely just been. I saw so many swans and ducklings compared to usual. I’m gutted I forgot to bring food to feed them! Then, we sat on the grass, in the sun, and continued to have a catch up. We also reminisced on the photoshoot we had done for Fashion North in the park for a university assignment.
During the day, the park is always such a peaceful place and if I still lived in Sunderland, I’d be there all of the time. The only busy areas were the skate park and the grass steps but they’re easily avoidable. If you fancied more of a walk there are plenty of paths that lead all around the park.
Find Penshaw Monument at: Chester Road, Penshaw, Tyne & Wear, DH4 7NJ