Sunderland Guide: Claxheugh Rock
Location: Access from Riverside Park, South Hylton, on the Southern Bank of the River Wear
The geological area Sunderland is built on is comprised largely of Magnesian Limestone, formed in the Permian period 250 million years ago. These rock formations created a number of formations around the city, including Tunstall Hill, Hasting Hill and Ryhope Beach. The area known as Claxheugh Rock, or sometimes “Claxy Rock” by locals is perched upon the south bank of the River Wear next to South Hylton and Ford Estate.
With Magnesian Limestone being easily eroded by water, the cliffsides of Clauxheugh Rock were carved out by the River Wear over millions of years as it made the way to the sea, creating a valley (which is why the city sits on top of it from a height). Originally, the area beneath Clauxheugh Rock was mudflats and part of the river bank’s floodplain. However, it was (as were other areas) reclaimed from the river and is now a grass field which now hosts the Sunderland Rowing club.
Just to the south of the rock is situated the Old Ford Quarry, which is where limestone was mined, and is now a sports complex and a series of football pitches. With the age of industry having long ended, the area is now popular for its natural beauty and is a nicer area to take a walk around. The presence of the Metro Line, however, makes it impossible to access the top of the cliff safely, so one must cut through under a footbridge and through South Hylton to reach the bottom of the rock.