Lune Forest

Lune Forest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering an extensive area of moorland in the Teesdale district of west Durham, England. In the north, where it adjoins the Upper Teesdale and Appleby Fells SSSIs, it extends from Mickle Fell eastward almost as far as Harter Fell, above the hamlet of Thringarth. Its southern limit is marked by the River Balder, upstream from Balderhead Reservoir, where it shares a boundary with Cotherstone Moor SSSI to the south. Grains o' th' Beck Meadows and Close House Mine SSSIs are entirely surrounded by Lune Forest, but do not form part of it.

The area has one of the most extensive areas of relatively undisturbed blanket bog in northern England, as well as a number of upland habitats, including wet and dry heath, acid grassland, limestone grassland and flushes.[1]

The predominant vegetation is blanket mire, in which heather, Calluna vulgaris, and hare's-tail cottongrass, Eriophorum vaginatum, are co-dominant. On higher ground, to the west, dwarf shrubs such as cloudberry, Rubus chamaemorus, and crowberry, Empetrum nigrum, are more frequent. Where steep slopes have inhibited peat formation, the blanket mire gives way to dry heath, in which heather, wavy hair-grass, Deschampsia flexuosa, and bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, are the dominant species.

In the northern part of the site, areas where the underlying limestone outcrops at the surface, or has been cut into by small streams, are marked by bands of grassland, typically dominated by mat-grass, Nardus stricta, and with herbs such as heath bedstraw, Galium saxatile, and tormentil, Potentilla erecta. Where the limestone soils are thinner, a more species-rich grassland is found: wild thyme, Thymus praecox, and selfheal, Prunella vulgaris, are common, and in some places there are large populations of spring gentian, Gentiana verna, a nationally rare species that is found nowhere else in Great Britain outside the Teesdale area.[2]

The area supports breeding populations of several important birds: merlin, short-eared owl and Eurasian golden plover are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection, while black grouse, red grouse, dunlin, Northern lapwing, ring ouzel and twite are listed in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds).[1][3] [4]

The site is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Lune Forest
Map showing the location of Lune Forest
Map showing the location of Lune Forest
Location of Lune Forest, Durham
LocationTeesdale, North East, England
Coordinates54°35′N 2°14′W / 54.583°N 2.233°WCoordinates: 54°35′N 2°14′W / 54.583°N 2.233°W
Area6,333.44 ha (24.4535 sq mi)
Governing bodyNatural England
WebsiteMap of site


  1. ^ a b "Lune Forest" (PDF). English Nature. 1998. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Spring gentian". North Pennines AONB Partnership. 2010. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  3. ^ Eaton, M A; A F Brown; D G Noble; A J Musgrove; R Hearn; N J Aebischer; D W Gibbons; A Evans; R D Gregory (2009). "Birds of Conservation Concern 3: the population status of birds in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man". British Birds. 102: 296–341.
  4. ^ "UK Biodiversity Action Plan". Joint Nature Conservation Committee. 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
Grains o' th' Beck Meadows

Grains o' th' Beck Meadows is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Teesdale district of south-west County Durham, England. It consists of three traditionally-managed hay meadows in Upper Lunedale, on the north bank of the River Lune, a little under 6 km upstream of the Selset Reservoir dam. The site is enclosed by the Lune Forest SSSI.

The site is important as preserving a rich assemblage of plant species, including some that are locally rare, in a habitat that is widely threatened by intensive agricultural practices.

Each of the fields includes areas that are regularly cut for hay, steep banks that are left uncut, and areas of impeded drainage, which together contain a diversity of species. Alpine bistort, Polygonum viviparum, which is rare in the Pennines, is found on the steep banks, and marsh-marigold, Caltha palustris, is abundant in the wetter patches.

List of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in County Durham

This is a list of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in County Durham, England. It excludes SSSIs situated in that area south of the River Tyne that is now part of the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear as well as the area north of the River Tees which, prior to 1996, formed part of the county of Cleveland.

As of July 2010, County Durham has 88 sites that have been designated as SSSIs, of which 67 have been designated for their biological interest, 16 for their geological interest, and 5 for both.Five of these sites are shared with an adjacent county:

Moorhouse and Cross Fell with Cumbria;

Derwent Gorge and Horsleyhope Ravine, Hexhamshire Moors and Muggleswick, Stanhope and Edmundbyers Commons and Blanchland Moor with Northumberland;

Durham Coast with both Cleveland (in the south) and Tyne and Wear (in the north).

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