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Durham County Council

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Chester-le-Street Riverside Park

Created in the 1930s, Riverside Park has always been popular with visitors. It was redeveloped in the 1990s and now includes artist-designed ornamental gardens, an events arena, play area and a park centre with cafe and toilets.

Riverside Park has been designed to meet the needs of a range of visitors. The play area and splash pad are lively, fun spaces to keep children entertained. The gardens provide a quiet place for relaxation and reflection. The grassed area and riverside walks offer chances for quiet relaxation, picnics, kite flying or more vigorous pursuits such as running and cycling.

The gardens

In 1996, two artists - Roger Dickinson and Isabella Lockett - and writer Linda France, were commissioned to create works for the Riverside Gardens. The artists drew their inspiration from local landscape designers William Andrews Nesfield (1794-1881) and Thomas Wright (1711-1786) who both had a keen interest in the solar system. Today each of the finished gardens reflects a different star or planet. You can get an information leaflet on Riverside Gardens by calling the Riverside Sports Pavilion.

Play area and splash pad

The play area covers an area of approximately 5,000 square metres and is suitable for all children, from toddlers to children in their teens. Its central feature is a 16 foot castle, inspired by the nearby Lumley Castle which overlooks the park.

The splash pad is brand new for 2015 and open daily from 11.00am to 6.00pm until the end of  September 2015. This state of the art play facility is free to use and suitable for families from toddlers to early teens. It is the only splash pad in County Durham and replaces the old paddling pool.

Please note, although the play area is a safe environment, children must be supervised at all times.

Park Centre

The Park Centre includes a kiosk selling drinks and snacks every day during the summer and at weekends throughout the year. Please note that the kiosk opening hours vary throughout the year depending on customer demand and weather.

Public toilets, a disabled toilet and baby change facilities are located in the building. The public toilets are open 9.00am - 6.00pm during the summer and 9.00am - 3.00pm during the winter.

The centre is also home to Chester-le-Street Bowling Club, which is always keen to welcome newcomers to the game. The greens are open to the public throughout the summer months.

Biodiversity - managing green space

We try to incorporate wildlife features within the park, helping to enhance visitors' experience and provide a valuable education resource for children. We work closely with Durham Wildlife Trust and other local authorities and agencies as part of the Durham Biodiversity Partnership. As a result, we have secured funding to recreate a flower-rich meadow to the north of the Riverside Gardens.

The meadow, which was seeded in September 2006, will have footpaths with mown areas so that people can walk through or sit and enjoy the surroundings. The meadow will establish itself over the next year and from then on, will be cut at the end of each summer. The meadow area will remain cut over the autumn and winter, ready to bloom again the next spring, making the surroundings more attractive and also providing a valuable wildlife habitat.

You can get a wildlife spotter's guide showing the types of wildlife to be found at the Riverside from the Riverside Sports Pavilion.

Green Flag Award

Riverside Park has been awarded a Green Flag Award. These awards recognise well managed parks and open spaces for all to enjoy. The Green Flag Awards is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK.

Great North Forest

The Riverside Park is a Gateway Site for the Great North Forest. It aims to encourage local people to make the most of the countryside which surrounds them. For further information about Great North Forest, please call 0191 460 6200.

Important information

To enjoy your visit to Riverside and help us to keep the park a safe and pleasant place for all of our visitors, please follow these simple rules:


You can let your dog run free along the riverside walk but dogs are not allowed in the playground and must be kept on a lead in the gardens. It is an offence to allow your dog to foul any area of the Riverside without cleaning up after it. There is a maximum fine of £1,000.


Please help us to keep the Riverside clean and tidy by always using the bins provided. Our park rangers can issue on-the-spot fines of £25 to anyone they witness littering the site.

The river

Please do not enter the river. It can look inviting but several people have drowned in recent years. In the event of an emergency, lifebelts are located along the riverbank and a telephone can be found at the entrance to the park.

Car parking

All car parks at the Riverside are pay and display. The site is covered by CCTV.

Durham County Leisure Logo Green Flag Awards Logo

In partnership with

  • Durham County Leisure Logo
  • Green Flag Awards Logo