"So densely wooded is the valley from end to end, as to have given rise to a saying once current, that a squirrel might travel from Axwell Park, near the mouth, to Shotley Bridge, ten or twelve miles distant, without touching the ground"
The Tyne and its Tributaries. W J Palmer. 1882
The first section of the Derwent begins where it joins the Tyne at Derwenthaugh, formerly an industrial area but now increasingly commercial with offices, hotels and restaurants. There are many bridges between here and Lintzford near the border of the counties of Tyne and Wear and Durham. On the way the river passes the scene of many former industries situated near its banks, becoming increasingly rural beyond Swalwell and passing Winlaton Mill and Rowlands Gill on its way to Lintzford, although all these places, including the last named had industries at one time.
The river is rarely straight for very long and is crossed by major and minor road bridges, footbridges and old railway bridges on the Consett branch of the old North Eastern Railway which ran up the valley past Rowlands Gill. The former 'Main Way', a railway carrying coals from County Durham pits also took the valley route near to the river. Its banks are mostly wooded and the valley sides rise steeply and villages may be glimpsed atop the hills on the north side of the river. After the first mile upstream the river becomes more attractive, flowing noisily over rocks in some places, at others progressing more quietly on its way downstream. the road and former railway are never far away and there are pleasant walks along the railway trackbed, now called the Derwent Walk, to Rowlands Gill and beyond; and through the Derwent Park, fashioned from the site of a former cokeworks.
The banner at top is a photograph taken in the 1960s and shows the former islands in the river at Swalwell, looking east towards Dunston power station a mile distant.