Jesmond Dene glows green as part of new OS mapping to get people outdoors

A Government initiative to make it easier for people to locate and access greenspaces has launched today with the release of a new database and interactive digital map identifying accessible recreational and leisure greenspace in Great Britain. And, naturally, Jesmond Dene is one of the “green lungs” that can be zoomed into on the new map.

Delivered by Ordnance Survey, the free map contains data from OS and other sources, and can be used immediately, for free, through the popular leisure mapping app and online service, OS Maps. This comprehensive map of Great Britain’s greenspaces is also available as an open dataset, called OS Open Greenspace, for communities, businesses and developers to create products and services that will encourage healthier and greener lifestyles.

OS CEO, Nigel Clifford, says: “Geospatial data can transform Governments, businesses and communities for the better. We see that through our work in Great Britain and internationally, and we’re excited to be one of those at the forefront leading this and making contributions of consequence and benefit. I’m particularly proud of this product as it delivers valuable information to the public, via OS Maps, enabling people and families across Great Britain to discover the greenspaces near them. In addition to this, we’re also releasing OS Open Greenspace, providing a freely available dataset for anyone to access. I am excited to see how people experiment and work with the data and look forward to seeing new products and services to help encourage an active Great Britain.”

Since the Greenspace map was reaffirmed as a commitment in 2015, OS has worked in collaboration with a large number of Non-Government Organisations and Government partners to compile the OS Open Greenspace dataset and digital map. Accurately depicted within the dataset is the location and extent of recreational and leisure features and, for larger sites, their access points. Example features included in the data is every public park in Great Britain, every play space, playing field, golf course, public garden, bowling green, allotment and more.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Greenspaces are a vital part of our landscape and this new database and online map will make it easier for people across the country to access greenspaces and lead healthier lives.

“With the completion of this mapping project, we have delivered on an important commitment and shown yet again how innovation can improve everyday lives.”

OS has also produced OS MasterMap (OSMM) Greenspace, a public-sector version of the greenspace map made available through the Public-Sector Mapping Agreement and One Scotland Mapping Agreement. Aimed at giving the public-sector accurate and up-to-date geospatial data to improve planning, analysis and decision making, OSMM Greenspace contains the location of all publicly accessible and non-accessible greenspaces. It is hoped the dataset will prove instrumental in helping the public sector create and manage health and wellbeing strategies, active travel plans and various environmental initiatives that include air quality, biodiversity, housing regeneration and flood resilience.

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Ouseburn Parks Events, October to December

Sunday 14 October 1.30 – 3.30pm
Bulb Planting and Autumn Nature Trail
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and plant some bulbs to take home with you and nurture. You can also take part in our Autumn Nature Trail around the Dene and an Autumn Scavenger Hunt. There will be a £1.50 charge for the bulb planting. Contact the Rangers for more information on 2812082.

Sunday 14 October 1.30 – 3.30pm
‘Minor Discoveries’ presents Autumnal Artistry
Led by Hive arts Company
Colemans Field, Jesmond Dene (in front of Pets’ Corner)
Visit our mobile workshop to create your own leaf prints and autumnal designs using some scavenged inspiration. There will be a £1 charge to cover the cost of materials.
(If wet – will be moved inside Visitor Centre)

Saturday 27th October 1pm – 3pm
Halloween Family Treasure Hunt
Free event run by Sustrans
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come along for an adventure to find the treasure and dodge the ghouls. Everyone who comes in fancy dress will get a special prize. There will also be pumpkin soup for participants, if you arrive early enough!

Saturday 27 October 5.30 -8pm
Halloween Pumpkins and Walk
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come along and carve a pumpkin lanterns. We will then go for an evening walk through the Dene to see what we can find. There may be eyes watching us from all sorts of places!! We’ll return to the Visitor Centre for a hot chocolate and pumpkin soup. There will be a charge of £4 per child and £1 per adult. Minimum age 5 years. Booking essential, please call the Rangers to book your place and for more information 2812082.

Monday 29 October 1 – 3 pm
Bulb Planting and Autumn Nature Trail
Heaton Park – The Pavilion
Come and plant some bulbs to take home with you and nurture. You can also take part in our Autumn Nature Trail around the Dene and an Autumn Scavenger Hunt. There will be a £1.50 charge for the bulb planting. Contact the Rangers for more information on 2812082.

Tuesday 30 October 1 – 3pm
Halloween Crafts
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and join the Northumberland Wildlife Trust to make a scary pumpkin, nature mask, and a tree spirit! Also follow the spooky wildlife trail. Booking essesntial. Free for all members. Suggested donation of £2.50 per child for non-members or free if join membership today. Recommended minimum age 5 years. Phone NWT on (0191) 2846884 for more information and to book your place.

Wednesday 31 October 1 – 3pm
Animals are Afraid!
Pets’ Corner, Jesmond Dene
Pets’ Corner has been invaded by Halloween ghosts, bats and spiders. Come along to hunt for the unwanted guests and make a Halloween hat, but please don’t scare the animals! This is a drop in event. Contact the Visitor Centre for more information on (0191) 2812082

Thursday 1 November 1 – 3pm
Dream Catchers
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and join the Northumberland Wildlife Trust to make a native American Dream Catcher. Free for all members. Suggested donation of £2.50 per child for non-members or free if join membership today. Recommended minimum age 5 years. Phone NWT on (0191) 2846884 for more information and to book your place.

Saturday 10th November 1pm and 2.15pm
Stabiliser free and smoothie bike
Free event
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Would you child like to learn to cycle? Then book onto this hour long session which has fantastic success rates. Please take off stabilisers and pedals beforehand, but bring the pedals with you in a bag. Children (under 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential. Please contact emma.cockburn@sustrans.org.uk to book this.

Saturday 24 November 1.30 – 3.30pm
Bird Feeders
Heaton Park – The Pavilion
The colder weather is here and the birds need all the help they can get. Why not come and make a bird feeder, and get some tips on easy ways to feed the birds over the winter. There is a £2 charge to cover the cost of materials. Contact the Rangers for more information on 2812082.

Sunday 25 November 1.30 – 3.30pm
Bird Feeders
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
The colder weather is here and the birds need all the help they can get. Why not come and make a bird feeder, and get some tips on easy ways to feed the birds over the winter. There is a £2 charge to cover the cost of materials. Contact the Rangers for more information on 2812082.

Sunday 25 November 4pm
Be safe be seen cycle ride
Free event
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come along to brighten up your bike for the dark winter nights. We will be giving away reflective gear and selling lights just before the short ride and games through the Dene. Children (under 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult. Please contact emma.cockburn@sustrans.org.uk to book this.

Saturday 8 December 2pm
Jingle Bell ride and storytelling with mince pies
Free event
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come along for a Christmas story and family cycle through the Dene. The ride will include an opportunity to decorate a tree, so please bring any old Christmas decoration that you can contribute. Children (under 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential. Please contact emma.cockburn@sustrans.org.uk to book this.

Saturday 15 December 10am – 12pm
Christmas Wreaths
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and have a go at making your own Christmas Wreath. All materials will be provided but if you have a pair of secateurs, please bring them with you. Places are limited; book early to ensure your place, 2812082 and for more information. There will be a charge of £7.50 (includes refreshments). This is an event for adults, so no under 16s.

Sunday 16 December 1 – 3.30 pm
Family Festive Fun
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
A joint event with the Volunteers, Friends of Jesmond Dene and the Rangers. Come and try your hand at making some simple Christmas decorations from natural and recycled materials. There will be a charge of £2/£1 for the decorations. There will also be Christmas Carols, light refreshments, tombolas and raffles. This is a drop in event. For more information please contact the Rangers on 2812082.

Tuesday 18 December 10 – 12pm
Christmas Wreaths
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and have a go at making your own Christmas Wreath. All materials provided but if you have a pair of secateurs please bring them with you. Places are limited; book early to ensure your place, 2812082 and for more information. There will be a charge of £7.50 (includes refreshments). This is an event for adults, so no under 16s.

Saturday 26 January 1pm
New year, new bike, new you! (including Dr Bike cycle repairs)
Free event
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
An opportunity for the whole family to learn how to safety check a bike and start the New Year with a short ride through the Dene. Children (under 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential Please contact emma.cockburn@sustrans.org.uk to book this.
M Steel Cycles will be servicing bikes for free from 1pm-3pm.

Sunday 27 January 1 – 3.30pm
Past Present and Future Walk
Jesmond Dene
Explore the history of Jesmond Dene, on this guided walk in the company of volunteers who are passionate about the parks. Booking essential. For booking, meeting place and more information phone (0191) 281 2082.

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Ouseburn otters give birth to cubs

For the first time in living memory, wild otter cubs have been born in Jesmond Dene, a great example of the value of the Ouseburn wildlife corridor to biodiversity within the city

The two cubs were born on one of the few secluded banks of Jesmond Dene at the beginning of the year but news has been kept under wraps until now to avoid disturbing them.

Ouseburn Parks ranger Michael Hancock said: “It’s great to finally be able to let people know about this, it’s been hard to keep quiet about such great news, especially when a few lucky dog walkers were reporting seeing three otters swimming around in broad daylight. The cubs look to be growing really well and although they will stay with the mum for another few months they’re old enough now to avoid human disturbance.”

This breeding success is the culmination of a population revival which has seen increasing otter activity along the Ouseburn river over the last ten years.

Kevin O’Hara, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Wetland officer, who has been helping to analyse the otter activity in Jesmond Dene, said: “This is the third record of otters breeding on the Ouseburn in the last five years. They only returned to the river in around 2000 after many, many decades of absence and you’d have to go back a long way to find such regular breeding occurrences.”

The otter population in Jesmond Dene is monitored by special cameras funded by the Jesmond Dene Volunteer Rangers’ Nature area project. The camera first spotted a male and female together in October last year, followed in February with footage of a female which had apparently recently given birth. The cubs, which remain in the den for the first three months of their lives were first spotted on film in May. Quite a bit of footage of the female otter and her cubs has been captured since then, including glimpses of them swimming in broad daylight.

Yvonne Shannon of the Volunteer Rangers said: “We do a lot of work to try and improve the biodiversity in Jesmond Dene, creating and managing suitable habitats for wildlife, including otters. As well as regularly clearing rubbish and debris from the river and removing invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed, we have helped in building several otter holts so that they have a safe places to rest. The new ponds, developed as part of the Nature area project will also increase the amount of food available to them as well as benefiting other wildlife.”

Hancock added: “Many people are surprised that this urban stretch of the Ouseburn can support otters, let alone a breeding population but a lot of work has been done in recent years by Rangers and volunteers to improve the habitat for them. Otters also have a very varied diet and analysis of their droppings shows that as well as eating the many small fish found in the river; frogs, rats and young birds have been important food sources for the the young cubs.”

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Biodiversity in the Dene

Following today’s AGM of the Friends of Jesmond Dene, Ouseburn Parks ranger Michael Woodcock gave a fascinating talk about the flora and fauna of Jesmond Dene, and the wildlife corridors spreading from the Tyne to Gosforth Park and beyond. He showed photos of some of the 150 species of moths found in the Dene as well as pix of the many and varied types of fungi that can be seen in what are 8000-year old woodlands, he said.

The huge range of flora and fauna in the Dene is due to the age of the woodlands. And the water in the Ouseburn is clean enough to support dippers, a species of bird more normally to be found by fast-flowing streams in upland areas.

The larger animals in the Dene include foxes and otters, and birds include kingfishers, sparrow hawks and owls.

Michael places his videos on YouTube under the name of OuseburnParksRanger. Here’s a selection of his films to date. He showed one to the AGM audience that won’t be on YouTube for some weeks; when it does go live you’ll understand why it was kept under wraps. Watch this space for news!

Insects found in the Dene:

Wide range of fungi:

Ball of fluff = dipper fledgling:

Kingfisher:

Sparrowhawk:

Young Tawny Owl:

Dippers:

Female fox:

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