Surrounded by beautiful countryside, yet just eight miles from the hustle and bustle of Newcastle, Rowlands Gill offers the best of both worlds.
This former coal mining village in the borough of Gateshead is becoming increasingly popular with homebuyers who hanker after the rural lifestyle, but still want all the benefits of a big city close to hand.
Offering great links to the A1 and situated just a couple of miles from the shopping haven of the MetroCentre and the varied attractions of Newcastle, Rowland Gill still manages to retain a tranquil air and a strong community atmosphere.
Nestled in a conservation area, the large village has a glorious setting - positioned on the north of the River Derwent with miles of green, open space and panoramic views across the valley to the Gibside Estate.
The estate is now owned by the National Trust and is one of their most popular attractions in the region, combining history and stunning grounds.
Across all seasons, villagers in Rowlands Gill benefit from great views of the dramatic chapel and the ruined 1620 hall, while the 18th Century landscaped gardens, believed to be the work of Lancelot Brown, provide the perfect excuse to stretch the legs.
And the outdoor attractions do not stop there.
Rowlands Gill is on the edge of 16 miles of council-owned parkland in the shape of Derwent Walk Country Park and Derwenthaugh Park, where walkers and cyclists alike can enjoy scores of riverside and woodland trails. For those who prefer their recreation a little more energetic, their is a local gym, as well as tennis courts and recreational fields and playground facilities all within the village.
Rowlands Gill is also at one end of a dedicated 14-mile cycle route to Blaydon - during which cyclists can watch out for Red Kites in the Derwent Valley - and is a stone's throw from Chopwell Woods.
This glorious landscape has ensured that over the past 50 years Rowlands Gill, has become one of the most desirable homebuying spots in the borough.
Indeed during the second half of the 20th Century many of Gateshead's foremost citizens set up home in the area.
And the community is now served by an array of housing - from the Edwardian homes of Lintzford Road, to barn conversions and more affordable ex-council houses and modern developments.
Despite the accessibility of the amenities of nearby Gateshead and Newcastle, villagers will find many necessities are on their doorstep.
There is a selection of small shops, including two florists, while the weekly grocery run is not a problem thanks to the presence of Tesco in the village.
The community is also served by branches of Halifax and Lloyds.
While the village no longer benefits from a pub since the demolition of The Towneley Arms in 2002 to make way for apartments, homebuyers can choose from a selection of high standard restaurants, with everything from Indian to Chinese and a number of sandwich shops and cafes also on hand for a quick fix.
There are two churches and a very successful primary school - an amalgamation of an old infant and junior school - which acts as the feeder school for Hookergate Comprehensive School, just three miles away in High Spen.
Despite a surge of interest in the village in recent years, there is still a strong community feeling - the library still bustles with activity and has a thriving reading group, while a selection of classes ranging from tai chi to sequence dancing and flower arranging take place at the community centre on Strathmore Road.
The village's In Bloom Committee is still very active and has entered the Britain in Bloom competition for the last few years.
Although a railway line which used to run through the village and, indeed, helped create it no longer runs, public transport links are still strong.
The original railway track passed up the Derwent Valley and the old trackbed has now become the Derwent Walk and is part of the dedicated cycle route to Blaydon, which also takes in the aptly-named Nine Arches viaduct passing high over the River Derwent.
The line was created in 1867 to run between Scotswood in Newcastle and Leadgate and Consett in County Durham.
The village grew around a railway station erected in front of the Gibside Estate on land owned by Robert Rowland and provided homes for the coal-miners and Tyneside labourers.
Population: In 2001 the Gateshead Council ward containing Rowlands Gill and Chopwell was 9,325 strong.
Main schools: Primary - Rowlands Gill Junior School is an amalgamation of the former infant and junior school. Secondary - Hookergate Comprehensive School is three miles away in High Spen. Easy access to private schools in Gateshead and Newcastle
Shops: Tesco is in centre of village, as well as selection of local shops, including two florists. Branches of Halifax and Lloyds.
Eating out: Selection of restaurants, including a Chinese and Indian, takeaways and a KFC.
Leisure: National Trust's Gibside Estate, the Derwent Walk park, cycle route to Blaydon with red kite viewing, angling permits for River Derwent, easy access to MetroCentre and Gateshead and Newcastle city centre.
By car: A694 links Rowlands Gill with A1.
On the market in NE39
This two-bedroom mid-terraced home has recently had a price reduction and is perfect for first-time buyers.
The traditional home in High Spen village, Rowlands Gill, has off-street parking at the rear and double-glazing. The ground floor features a good-sized lounge with fireplace, dining room and kitchen with gas hob and electric oven. Upstairs there are two well-proportioned bedrooms and a bathroom with white suite.
3 Robert Terrace, High Spen, Rowlands Gill is for sale through Your Move for offers over £89,950, tel: (0191) 413-5051.
On the market in NE39
Occupying a mature position within the village, this two-bedroom semi-detached house has the potential to be extended, subject to planning permission.
The property on Cross Terrace has a garage and gardens while the inside includes a lounge with square bay window, dining room and kitchen with windows to two sides. On the first floor you'll find two bedrooms with built-in cupboards to the master, and a family bathroom.
4 Cross Terrace, Rowlands Gill, is for sale through Halifax at offers in the region of £169,950, tel: (01207) 544498.
On the market in NE39
Located within a conservation area on sought-after Dene Avenue, in Rowlands Gill, this traditional three-bedroom home has been extended to provide a spacious family home.
The property has an impressive garden on three levels and comes with a large driveway for off-street parking and a detached garage with workshop beneath.
The ground floor has an entrance hall, lounge with feature fireplace, dining room, breakfasting kitchen and cloakroom. Upstairs are the three bedrooms, all with fitted wardrobes, and a family bathroom.
The property is for sale through Sarah Mains at £349,950, tel: (0191) 488-9999.
The royalty and red kites of Rowlands G
The beautiful village of Rowlands Gill, nestling in extensive countryside, on the banks of the River Derwent, is one of the North-East's best kept secrets.
You can understand the locals' reasons for staying quiet. For this village is one of the few remaining locations to have retained its charm and character through gentle, sensitive and well thought-out development.
Rowlands Gill is not like many satellite towns of Tyneside, a mass of sprawling new estates and every scrap of land being allocated for new housing. Most of the property in the village can be found on quiet leafy lanes. There are established terraces, solid, well-built, pre-war semis and delightful large detached houses, with walled gardens, from the days when the managers of heavy industry chose to live in the village.
There are wonderful views over the crystal-clear waters of the Derwent, now populated by herons, kingfishers and dippers. On a clear day the recently introduced red kites make a dramatic sight as they soar over the valley. There are the unspoiled and well-tended parks; the village park itself, and the new parks and nature reserves further along the road towards Winlaton Mill.
There is also the Royal Palace, the increasingly-popular, National Trust-owned Gibside Hall and its Chapel. This was the ancestral home of the Bowes Lyons, the Queen Mother's family, and she lived here as a little girl.
We know about the quality and beauty of the village, but what makes it a sought-after place to live is its geographical location? With good main roads, to and from the centre, it is a five-minute drive from the A1 and 10 minutes to the MetroCentre, and Newcastle is only another short journey.
Not that you need to leave the village very often if you don't want to. Rowlands Gill has a real sense of community, with good and varied shopping in the centre and some excellent restaurants.
The Derwent Walk, cycle and rambling route is on the edge of the village and we also have tennis courts, bowls, and a Health Club in the centre. There are established clubs for football, cricket, tennis and rugby a short journey down the valley.
It's a great place to be, with a real "feel good" factor, which is why the housing market is so buoyant.
But please, do us all here a favour - don't tell anyone!
* Jan Mitchell is a managing partner with Halifax Estate Agency. She has been based at the Rowlands Gill office for three years. The branch, on Station Road Rowlands Gill, can be contacted on (01207) 544498.
Bewitched by stunning views
Since he moved to the attractive village of Rowlands Gill more than three years ago, artist Alan Mould has been bewitched by the varied species of birds there and the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
A self-confessed bird enthusiast, Alan, 46, has been working overtime to capture on canvas the re-colonisation of the North-East by more than 90 red kites, which were released in the nearby Derwent Valley.
The father of toddler Rowan, two, moved from Sunderland to Dominie Close, Rowlands Gill in 2003 to live with partner Lynn, 45.
He admitted he was delighted to leave the urban sprawl and come to a rural environment where he could indulge his hobby and live in a friendly, quiet village.
With the tranquillity of the nearby Gibside Estate and the opportunity to stroll by the river where kingfishers often can be spotted, Alan said he was in his element.
He added: "I do love living here, especially because it is such a different environment from Sunderland where I had been living.
"I think I have just got the countryside in my blood. Birdwatching is my great passion in life and everything is on my doorstep here - it is particularly perfect for spotting the red kites.
"I live just a few hundred yards from where their winter nests are, and about 20 or 30 birds come in at about dusk time. And when I look out my kitchen window, the view is lovely.
"Rowlands Gill's location is also excellent, you can be at the MetroCentre in a short time and the drive into the village is nice with all of the lovely countryside.
"The only problem is the lack of a village pub - I have to walk about half an hour - but it is a friendly, safe place and somewhere I am very happy."
On the market in NE39
Perfect for first-time buyers on a tight budget, this two-bedroom terraced house is well-presented and comes with a rear yard and double-glazing.
The ground floor includes a spacious living room at 17ft by 15ft 3ins with fireplace and a re-fitted kitchen. Upstairs there are two double bedrooms and a bathroom.
11 Olga Terrace, Highfield, Rowlands Gill is for sale through JD Estates at £89,950, tel: (01207) 545-3333.