Sunderland Guide: Foxcover Wood

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Location: Enter through Herrington Country Park, or from Foxcover Lane via Herrington village.

Foxcover Wood is a stretch of modern day planted woodland extending in a track like route from Herrington Country Park towards what is known as “Foxcover Lane”, which provides a bridge over the A19 motorway to Hasting Hill. Surrounded by fields and with Penshaw Monument sitting in the distance, the tranquility and beauty of the forest makes it one of the finest walking routes within Sunderland.

Foxcover Wood was planted over the remains of a historic transportation route known as the “Lambton Wagonway”, which before the invention of modern railways used animal power to transport coal from place to place. Built in the 18th century, the wagonway couriered coal from Lambton Colliery in Washington towards Sunderland City Centre and the River Wear. One of its terminus points is now Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The name “Foxcover” itself is of an earlier historical origin, with historians describing its use in English history as meaning: “An area left as scrub for foxes to lie up. Foxhunting was a key aspect of estate ownership“. By the 19th century, this location was marked on early ONS maps as “Foxcover Engine” showing its subsequent link to the new Wagonway.

The Lambton Wagonway was abandoned by 1870, but the direct footpath route through Foxcover Wood serves as a footprint of its existence. One may note the remnants of former brickwork lying in the soil, showing us the distant past of this area before “nature took it back”. The wood now serves as an excellent thoroughfare route from the Country Park, over the A19 bridge and into Sunderland.

In recent years, the exit route of Foxcover Lane, due to its highly isolated location, has been plagued with Flytipping. This has resulted in the installation of CCTV systems in order to identify the dumpers.