"we go down Sheepwash Dene on Sunday"

Sheepwash was originally named for a river crossing at the Wansbeck between Ashington and Bothal, though it became more generally known for the area now largely covered by the popular walking site of Wansbeck Riverside Park. In the late 1950s, before the local authority reclaimed it, Sheepwash Dene was an exciting place for young boys to explore and go nesting (a practice that slowly declined after it was made illegal in 1954). The riverside was a maze of dense woodland, and with a treacherous bog at one side of it. At the age of seven, the author and a friend called Alan Gilbertson, playing in the dene without supervision, became trapped beyond the waist in the bog. They were rescued in the nick of time by three anonymous cyclists who washed them down in the river and gave them a lift home on their crossbars.

This is how the area looks today.

River Wansbeck at Sheepwash
Creative Commons AttributionRiver Wansbeck at Sheepwash - Credit: Mark Smiles
Wansbeck riverside footpath
Creative Commons AttributionWansbeck riverside footpath - Credit: Mark Smiles
Wansbeck Riverside Park
Creative Commons AttributionWansbeck Riverside Park - Credit: Mike Brown59