Hardwick Park - Review, Dinosaur Trail & Information

This post is based on a visit in October 2020. For up to date info, please visit the Hardwick Park website here before making plans and setting off. 

Hardwick Park is a beautiful park in Sedgefield, County Durham. It is really easy to get to (not far from the A1), there is ample parking (£3 per day - cash or pay by phone), there is a bus stop 1/2 a mile away (use the signposted footpath through the arch to the Hardwick Hall Hotel from Sedgefield High Street) and there is plenty to keep the whole family occupied. 

Scroll to the bottom of this post for directions, FAQs and a guide to what's on over May Half Term. 

There is ample parking on arrival at Hardwick Park. It is £3 for a full day and you can pay by cash or pay by phone. If you cannot find a spot, there is an overflow car park. There were plenty of spots on the day of our visit but I imagine it might get very busy in the summer months. 

The car park is right by the visitor centre where you will find the play parks, plenty of picnic tables (which are larger than a standard picnic table if you are looking for an outdoor socially distanced spot for coffee (if restrictions allow) and cafe which was serving takeaway only on the day of our visit. 

There are several maps around the park but it would be pretty difficult to get lost here I think. There is a simple circular route to walk around the lake. For us, it was 1.38 miles which included lots of stops when we looked for dinosaurs and a little detour into the woodland area. 

The park is so beautiful at this time of year - filled with autumnal colours. Lots of leaves were falling / on the ground and the scenery was just stunning. Take care when walking around the lakes and especially if using a pushchair or wheelchair as there are sloped banks and a lot of the lake has no physical barrier from the path.  

We downloaded the Love Exploring app which is free. It features trails, quizzes, augmented reality, games and more for lots of parks across the UK. At the moment, there is a dinosaur trail as part of the app and you can find 7 hidden dinosaurs hidden in the park. 

Jack absolutely loves dinosaurs and this was great fun. We had fun taking dinosaur photos and answering some of the quiz questions. All completely free to take part and something which really added to our day. I would recommend. 

I believe there is going to be a special Halloween trail over half term too. Do check the app for new trails. 

I have never seen so many ducks, geese and swans at a park before. There are hundreds. We loved listening to the ducks chatter as we walked past. You can buy duck food from the cafe for 50p if you fancy feeding them. 

We walked past Hardwick Hall. I remember visiting here years ago as part of a murder mystery night. I think it might have even been before we were married. We had a great night and it's a lovely little hotel. Lots of people recommend booking cream / afternoon tea here and they are known for their events across the year. I knew the park was close to the hotel but didn't realise it was this close. 

After our circular walk around the lakes, we spent some time in the woodland area next to the car park. You will find lots of natural play here with little sculptures, a Gruffalo and insect hotel. 

Of course the kids were 'starving' after our walk so we popped over to the cafe. The menu is small but everything is homemade and absolutely delicious. Jack rated their sausage rolls to be 9/10 (just half a point behind Greggs!). I personally think they are better! 

Service was quick and the prices were really reasonable. The cafe is takeaway only at the moment. There is an outdoor seating area at the cafe or plenty of picnic tables to choose from. 

Here is a little summary of our route courtesy of Map My Walk. The walk was pretty flat and suitable for wheelchair users / pushchairs. There were a few diversions which were a little muddy but if you stick to the main route/paths, you should be ok. 

It was slightly muddy on the day of our visit. Wellies / walking boots are recommended if it has been raining. I was in my trainers though and it was fine - I just dodged the mud. I know kids aren't always that careful though. 

A new addition to Hardwick Park is Skerney the Swan. You will find her sitting in the play park by the cafe. Skerney is part of the Discover Brightwater Wildlife Warriors Trail which I blogged about here. There are six animals to find across the region and once you have found them all, you can enter a competition to solve the clues and win a prize. 

There are three play areas at Hardwick Park. They are nice but small and not the main attraction. Don't expect something on the scale of HarestanesTyne Green or Ridley Park. The parks are more of a 'something to do after the walk when mam is having a coffee' kind of place. 

There is a toddler play area, an obstacle course and a small area with swings. They are all right next to each other by the cafe and if you pick the right table, you should be able to keep an eye on the kids while you enjoy a coffee if they are old enough to play unsupervised. 

Interestingly, there are various ruins dotted about the park too which you will spot on your walk around the lake. We called this a Rapunzel Tower - it looks just like it doesn't it. 

Looking for more parks to explore in the North East? Check out these posts: 

Harestanes Park Review & Information 

Tyne Green Park Review & Information 

Ridley Park Review & Information 

15 of the Best Parks and Playgrounds in North East England 

10 of the Best Family Walks with a Cafe and Playground in North East England 

May Half Term at Hardwick Park 

There are lots of fun activities planned for May Half Term at Hardwick Park this year. This information has been taken from the Hardwick Park website here. Please double check with venue before making plans: 

The Dragon Returns Trail

Saturday 29 May to Sunday 6 June 2021

The Hardwick Park dragon has just returned to the park displaying a magnificent transformation to her form. She has been gone for so long on her travels that she can't remember where she laid her eggs and they are nearly ready to hatch. Can you help us find them for her using the map before we have baby dragons running around the park? Discover how to train the baby dragons as you go. Find our dragon to see her new look too.

Children must be accompanied by an adult. Normal parking charges apply.

Trail sheets cost £1 per sheet and are available from the shop and cafĂ© during opening hours.

Dragon Eye Creating

Tuesday 1 June 2021, Hardwick Park Yurt Garden

To celebrate the return of our dragon in its new magnificent form, join us to create your very own dragon eye. Get creative with clay to make your own personal design, then join our trail, 'The Dragon Returns' with the trail sheet you will be provided with.

Workshops will last 30 minutes and can be booked for the following timeslots;

  • 10.00am to 10.30am
  • 10.15am to 10.45am
  • 10.45am to 11.15am
  • 11.00am to 11.30am
  • 11.30am to 12noon
  • 11.45am to 12.15pm
  • 1.00pm to 1.30pm
  • 1.15pm to 1.45pm
  • 1.45pm to 2.15pm
  • 2.00pm to 2.30pm
  • 2.30pm to 3.00pm
  • 2.45pm to 3.15pm

Suitable for children aged 3 and over. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Normal parking charges apply.

Booking is essential. To book, please email outdoorlearning@durham.gov.uk with a contact number and a member of staff will contact you to make the booking and take payment over the telephone. 

Tickets: £10 per family (family ticket is for up to six people from the same household/support bubble in line with COVID guidance)

Dragon Den Building

Thursday 3 June 2021, Hardwick Park Outdoor Learning Site

Hurray! Our dragon has returned and she is looking fabulous. Can you build the perfect den for our dragon? You will then have the opportunity to celebrate all things fire-breather by building your own woodland camp fire.

Workshops will last 1 hour 30 minutes and can be booked for the following timeslots (four family tickets available for each timeslot);

  • 10.00am to 11.30am
  • 12.30pm to 2.00pm
  • 2.30pm to 4.00pm

Suitable for children aged 5 and over. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Normal parking charges apply.

Booking is essential. To book, please email outdoorlearning@durham.gov.uk with a contact number and a member of staff will contact you to make the booking and take payment over the telephone. 

Tickets: £18 per family (family ticket is for up to six people from the same household/support bubble in line with Covid-19 guidance)

Love Exploring Space Walk

From Monday 31 May 2021

Blast off this May half term with our brand new space walk. Download the 'Love Exploring' app, find the augmented reality planets and complete the themed quiz questions on this fun, interactive walk around the park.

The app is available on Apple and Android devices, but is not compatible with all mobile phones. Please check you can access all features of the trail before your visit.

Covid-19 information

Bookings for our events can only be made in individual household/bubble groups with numbers restricted to six people per group including adults.

Pre-activity information will be sent to you in advance of the event via email. If you do not receive this information, please contact our Education Team by emailing outdoorlearning@durham.gov.uk.

Any individual, or if they have someone in their household, who is showing symptoms of or has tested positive for Covid-19 will be advised not to come to attend the booked activity and to remain at home.

We remind visitors and ticket holders to follow government guidance around social distancing when visiting our park grounds and family activities. 

Hardwick Park - FAQs 

What is the postcode? 

Use postcode TS21 2DN and follow the brown signs for Hardwick Park when you see them. 

How much is parking? 

£2 for up to 2 hours or £3 all day (correct October 2020). Pay and Display system which takes cash or pay by phone. 

Are dogs welcome? 

Yes, there were lots of dogs there on the day of our visit. Dogs must stay on leads between 9am - 6pm and at all times during nesting season. There are lots of dog waste bins and the park ask that you keep dogs from entering the water. 

Are there toilets? 

Yes, at the moment they are open from 10am - 4pm. Find them at the visitor centre. 

Is the walk suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs? 

Yes, the path is wide, flat and surfaced. The route around the lake is around 1.3 miles (circular). There are longer routes available - check out the maps on-site for info. 

Is there a cafe? 

Yes, at the moment it is takeaway only from 10am - 3pm. 

Where can I find Skerney the Swan and more about Discover Brightwater Wildlife Warriors Trail? 

Find Skerney in the main play park by the cafe. Here is more info. 

Where can I find up-to-date info about visiting the park? 

Find out more about opening hours, events and information here: https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/8721/Visitor-information

Where can I download the Dinosaur Trail? 

You can access the FREE Dinosaur Trail via the Love Exploring App here.  ( I recommend downloading before you go). 

Really enjoyed our visit here, it certainly won't be the last. A new sculpture trail is planned for Spring 2021. 

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Please follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines , respect the local area, leave no trace, take litter home, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Remember face coverings are required for indoor attractions / shops for those aged 11+ (usual exemptions apply)  

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check updated opening hours / protocols with venues direct before setting off as things may have changed after this post was published. 

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Hardwick Park - Review, Dinosaur Trail & Information


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