I started to explore the Derwent Valley in a little more depth at the time of the Red Kite Reintroduction Scheme. I've since been very impressed by the area and how it is managed for wildlife. You just have to listen to someone like Keith Bowey talk about this area to get excited about it. Sadly I learn the Wildlife team is lined up for the chop. A petition is being collected and you can help by signing it HERE. (sorry link appears not to work but you can find it by Google E petitions + Gateshead) I believe they have 900 names up to now, but need 2,000 before it will be taken up by the Gateshead Council. Please spread the word.
BTW Keith Bowey is giving a talk for the NHSoc at the Hancock on Friday 20th Jan (7:00pm). The title is The Birds of Durham