Ebchester lies on southeastern slope of the valley of the Derwent River, which rises in the high moorland of Co. Durham and flows northeast into the Tyne at Swalwell. The underlying coal measures formed the basis of extensive mining activities in the valley in the past while the overlying glacial deposits of sand and gravel have attracted more recent quarrying. The village and its immediate environs include a variety of natural habitats which support a rich diversity of plants and animals.
Ebchester Woods, a small area of semi-natural woodland on the steep west-facing slope above the River Derwent; is owned and managed by the National Trust. The tree species are predominantly native with oak, ash and sycamore forming the canopy in most places. Ground flora is rich and includes many species typical of ancient woodland sites
A short distance upstream is Westlaw Wood, owned and and managed by the Woodland Trust. It is an Ancient Semi-natural Woodland and Site of Nature Conservation Importance.
The Woodland Trust also manages Broomhill Dene, which lies immediately east of the Derwent Walk. Broomhill Dene is a mixed woodland of broadleaf and coniferous trees covering 4.19 hectares with ground flora that includes bluebells and ramson.
The northwestern side of the valley accommodates a mixture of farmland and a number of ancient woodlands, most notably the Heugh Woods. These once coppiced woods contain a wide mix of plant and tree species and are home to deer, badgers and squirrels as well as many smaller mammals and many species of birds. In recent years, these have included the magnificent red kites, introduced so successfully in Rowlands Gill, which have spread upstream and are now frequent visitors to Ebchester.
The Derwent River is part of the Tyne river system whose well-being is the concern of the Tyne Rivers Trust. The river supports a rich population of aquatic plants and animals including numerous species of fish which attract herons and otters. The Ebchester weir, which has crossed the Derwent for hundreds of years, was originally built to provide water power for several mills along what is now Mill Lane. The long pool upstream of the weir is frequently visited by a variety of water birds, particularly during cold winters. It also supports popular water sports activities, particularly rowing and kayaking. Efforts are underway to upgrade the existing boathouse to enhance access to these activities.