North Pennines

The North Pennines is the northernmost section of the Pennine range of hills which runs north–south through northern England. It lies between Carlisle to the west and Darlington to the east. It is bounded to the north by the Tyne Valley and to the south by the Stainmore Gap.

North Pennines
Cauldron Snout - July 2006
Cauldron Snout in the North Pennines AONB
North Pennines AONB locator map
Location of the North Pennines AONB in the UK
LocationCounty Durham, Northumberland, North Yorkshire & Cumbria counties, England
Max. elevationCross Fell
893 m (2,930 ft)
DesignatedArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty


The North Pennines was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1988 for its moorland scenery, the product of centuries of farming and lead-mining. At almost 770 square miles (2,000 km2) it is the second largest of the 49 AONBs in the United Kingdom.[1] The landscape of the North Pennines AONB is one of open heather moors between deep dales, upland rivers, hay meadows and stone-built villages, some of which contain the legacies of a mining and industrial past. The area has previously been mined and quarried for minerals such as barytes, coal fluorspar, iron, lead, witherite and zinc.[2] In 2013, a Canadian mining company were allowed to test drill for zinc around Allenheads and Nenthead. They said the region was sitting on a "world-class" deposit of zinc and predicted that a new mine in the area could produce 1,000,000 tonnes (980,000 long tons; 1,100,000 short tons) of zinc ore per year.[3]

In the North Pennines are: 40% of the UK's upland hay meadows; 30% of England's upland heathland and 27% of its blanket bog; 80% of England's black grouse (and also breeding short-eared owl, ring ouzel, common snipe and common redshank); 36% of the AONB designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; red squirrels, otters and rare arctic alpine plants; 22,000 pairs of breeding waders and one of England's biggest waterfalls – High Force.[4] The area shares a boundary with the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the south and extends as far as the Tyne Valley, just south of Hadrian's Wall in the north.[5]

One of the many walking routes in the North Pennines is Isaac's Tea Trail, a circular route of 37 miles (60 km) around the area, running from Ninebanks via Allendale, Nenthead and Alston.[6] In addition to this, a large section of the Pennine Way falls in the AONB,[7] including one of the most celebrated stretches through Teesdale, a lush valley with dramatic river scenery including the twin attractions of High Force and Cauldron Snout.

The AONB is notable for rare flora and fauna, including wild alpine plants not found elsewhere in Britain. It is also home to red squirrels and diverse birds of prey. The impressive landscape of the North Pennines – from High Force on the River Tees to the sweeping valley of High Cup Gill above Dufton – are the product of millions of years of geological processes. The worldwide significance of the geology found in the area was recognised in 2003 when the AONB became Britain's first European Geopark.[8] A year later the area become one of the founding members of the UNESCO-assisted Global Geopark family and in 2015 it was accorded official status as a UNESCO Global Geopark.[9] Geoparks are areas with outstanding geological heritage where this is being used to support sustainable development.[10]

Another of the North Pennines' oddities is that it is home to England's only named wind, the Helm Wind. It has caught out many walkers traversing the plateaux around Cross Fell, the Eden Valley fellside, and the valleys between Alston and Dufton.[11]

The great English poet W. H. Auden spent much time in this area and some forty poems and two plays are set here. Auden visited the area in 1919 and "five years later was writing poems about Alston Moor and Allendale."[12] He referred to the region as his "Mutterland", his "great good place", and equated it with his idea of Eden. Scores of Pennine place-names are found in his work, including Cauldron Snout and Rookhope.[13][14]



One can fly to Newcastle International Airport(NCL) which is 20 miles away from North Pennines


Visitor centre

There is a small visitor centre at Bowlees which aims to provide a gateway to Upper Teesdale and the wider North Pennines AONB.[15][16]


  1. ^ "Where is the North Pennines". Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  2. ^ "BBC - Seven Wonders - North Pennines". BBC. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  3. ^ "North Pennines zinc mine 'could create 500 jobs'". BBC News. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  4. ^ "North Pennines AONB". Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  5. ^ "North Pennines AONB" (PDF). pp. 26–27. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Isaac's Tea Trail - LDWA Long Distance Paths". Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  7. ^ Stephenson, Tom (1980). The Pennine Way (2nd ed.). London: H.M.S.O. for the Countryside Commission. pp. 48–67. ISBN 0-11-700903-2.
  8. ^ "13/08/03 - North Pennines AONB gets Country`s first European Geopark status". Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  9. ^ Henderson, Tony (22 November 2015). "North Pennines is to be formally declared an official UNESCO global geopark". nechronicle. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  10. ^ McMillan, A A (2008). "The role of the British Geological Survey in geoconservation". In Burek, C V; Prosser, C D (eds.). The history of geoconservation (1 ed.). London: British Geological Society. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-86239-254-0.
  11. ^ Plester, Jeremy (21 April 2013). "Weatherwatch: The rolling clouds of the wind that shook the Normans". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  12. ^ Mitchell, W R (September 2007). The Eden Valley and the North Pennines. Phillimore. p. 100. ISBN 9781860774508.
  13. ^ "Historic Humanists- Auden, W. H. | The Eloquent Atheist". Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  14. ^ Partridge, Frank (24 February 2007). "North Pennines: Poetry in motion". The Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Bowlees Visitor Centre".
  16. ^ "Winners announced for North East England Tourism Awards". 2016.

External links

Coordinates: 54°44′N 2°8′W / 54.733°N 2.133°W

Alston, Cumbria

Alston is a small town in Cumbria, England, within the civil parish of Alston Moor on the River South Tyne. It shares the title of the 'highest market town in England', at about 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level, with Buxton, Derbyshire. Despite being at such an altitude and in a remote location, the town is easily accessible via the many roads which link the town to Weardale valley, Teesdale, Hartside Pass (and towns in Cumbria such as Penrith) as well as the Tyne valley. Historically part of Cumberland, Alston lies within the North Pennines, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is surrounded by beautiful views of the surrounding fells and the South Tyne Valley. Much of the town centre is a designated Conservation Area which includes several listed buildings.

Botany Hill

Botany Hill, formerly known as Botany Quarry, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Teesdale district of south-west County Durham, England. It occupies a position on both sides of How Gill, just under 1 km north of the village of Hury, in Baldersdale.

The site is important as the type locality of the Botany Limestone, a widespread marker horizon that is key to an understanding of the stratigraphy of the Namurian sediments of the North Pennines and Northumberland Trough.

Cold Fell (Pennines)

Cold Fell is a mountain in the northern Pennines, in Cumbria, England. Lying among the northernmost uplands of the North Pennines AONB, it is the most northernly mountain in Cumbria and is considered a marilyn due to its prominence of 168m.

Cross Fell

Cross Fell is the highest mountain in the Pennine Hills of Northern England and the highest point in England outside the Lake District. It is located in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The summit, at 2,930 feet (893 m), is a stony plateau, part of a 7.8-mile-long (12.6-kilometre-long) ridge running north-west to south-east, which also incorporates Little Dun Fell at 2,762 feet (842 m) and Great Dun Fell at 2,785 feet (849 m). The three adjoining fells form an escarpment that rises steeply above the Eden Valley on its south-western side and drops off more gently on its north-eastern side towards the South Tyne and Tees Valleys.

Cross Fell summit is crowned by a cross-shaped dry-stone shelter. On a clear day there are excellent views from the summit across the Eden Valley to the mountains of the Lake District. On the northern side of Cross Fell there are also fine views across the Solway Firth to the Southern Uplands of Scotland.

The fell is prone to dense hill fog and fierce winds. A shrieking noise induced by the Helm Wind is a characteristic of the locality. It can be an inhospitable place for much of the year. In ancient times it was known as "Fiends Fell" and believed to be the haunt of evil spirits. St Augustine of Canterbury is said to have blessed the hill when he arrived here on his travels so it became known as Cross Fell in the Christian tradition, although it has been speculated that the fell became known as Cross Fell ("cross" meaning "angry") because of the evil spirits.

Fairy Holes Cave

Fairy Holes Cave is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Wear Valley district of west County Durham, England. It is located on the western flanks of Snowhope Moor, on the right bank of Westernhope Burn, some 3 km south-west of the village of Eastgate.

The cave is the longest known stream passage in the Yoredale Limestone of the North Pennines and the best developed example of its type. The Geological Conservation Review classes it as being of national importance.

Foster's Hush

Foster's Hush is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Teesdale district of west County Durham, England. It is located in the valley of Lune Head Beck, immediately south of the B6276 road, 6 km upstream of the Selset Reservoir dam.

At Foster's Hush, workings of a mineral-rich vein in the Great Limestone and Tuft Sandstone have exposed mineralisation of a rare mineral, witherite. The site has been listed by the Geological Conservation Review, both for the excellent mineral specimens it has provided and because it is the only locality in the North Pennines ore-field where witherite mineralisation can be observed in situ at the surface.

Gill (ravine)

A gill or ghyll is a ravine or narrow valley in the North of England and other parts of the United Kingdom. The word originates from the Old Norse gil. Examples include Dufton Ghyll Wood, Dungeon Ghyll, Troller's Gill and Trow Ghyll. As a related usage, Gaping Gill is the name of a cave, not the associated stream, and Cowgill, Masongill and Halton Gill are derived names of villages.The stream flowing through a gill is often referred to as a beck: for example in Swaledale, Gunnerside Beck flows through Gunnerside Ghyll. Beck is also used as a more general term for streams in the north of England – examples include Ais Gill Beck and Arkle Beck. In the North Pennines, the word sike or syke is found in similar circumstances. This is particularly common in the Appleby Fells area where sikes significantly outnumber the becks and gills; it can also be seen in the name of Eden Sike Cave in Mallerstang.

In the High Weald gills are deeply cut ravines, usually with a stream in the base which eroded the ravine. These gills may be up to 200 feet (61 m) deep, which represents a significant physiographic feature in lowland England.

High Force

High Force is a waterfall on the River Tees, near Middleton-in-Teesdale, Teesdale, County Durham, England. The waterfall is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and European Geopark.

The whole of the River Tees plunges 70 feet (21 m) over a precipice (cliff edge which is almost vertical) in two stages. After heavy rainfall the River Tees will also flow over the dry right hand side channel, creating two falls. Very occasionally the river level will be high enough to flow over the central section of rock, the last recorded time this happened was in December 2015 after Storm Desmond. In harsh winters the falls have been known to freeze, creating cathedral-like ice formations.Access to the northern bank is via a private footpath on the Raby estate for which a fee is charged. The southern bank can be reached free-of-charge via the Pennine Way public footpath which crosses the Moor House-Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve.

Hunder Beck Juniper

Hunder Beck Juniper is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Teesdale district of south-west County Durham, England. It lies between the Balderhead and Blackton Reservoirs and adjoins the Cotherstone Moor SSSI to the south.

The site, which is situated on the east bank of the Hunder Beck, is notable as one of only three in County Durham where there are significant stands of upland juniper, Juniperus communis, scrub, a vegetation type which is particularly uncommon in the North Pennines.

On the upper slopes the juniper is associated with species-rich acid grassland, which is dominated by sheep's fescue, Festuca ovina, common bent, Agrostis capillaris, heath bedstraw, Galium saxatile, and tormentil, Potentilla erecta. A locally rare fern, moonwort, Botrychium lunaria is one of the less common species.Where the juniper is densest, the vegetation has a woodland character, with rowan, Sorbus aucuparia, and ash, Fraxinus excelsior, among the tree species present in small numbers, but though juniper of a variety of ages is present, there is no evidence of recent regeneration.On the shallower slopes, the juniper is associated with a species-poor acid flush vegetation that is dominated by rushes, Juncus spp.

List of Nuttall mountains in England and Wales

This is a list of Nuttall mountains in England and Wales by height. Nuttalls are defined as peaks above 2,000 feet (609.6 m) in height, the general requirement to be called a "mountain" in the British Isles, and with a prominence above 15 metres (49.2 ft); a mix of imperial and metric thresholds.The Nuttall classification was suggested by Anne and John Nuttall in their 1990 two–volume book, "The Mountains of England and Wales". The list was updated with subsequent revised editions by the Nuttalls. Because of the prominence threshold of only 15 metres (49.2 ft), the list is subject to ongoing revisions. In response, Alan Dawson introduced the Hewitts, with a higher prominence threshold of 30 metres (98.4 ft). This was the prominence threshold that the UIAA set down in 1994 for an "independent" peak. In 2010, Dawson replaced his Hewitts with the fully "metric" Simms, consisting of a height threshold of 600 metres (1,968.5 ft), and a prominence threshold of 30 metres (98.4 ft). However, both the Nuttall and Hewitt classifications have become popular with peak baggers, and both remain in use, and their respective authors maintain up to date lists, as does the Database of British and Irish Hills.As of October 2018 there were 446 Nuttalls, with 257 in England and 189 in Wales. The first people registered as climbing all of the Nuttalls were Anne and John Nuttall themselves, in March 1990. A register of people who declare they have climbed all of the Nuttalls is kept by the Long Distance Walkers Association ("LWDA"); As of October 2018, it totalled 302 names. On 16 September 2017, James Forrest completed all 446 Nuttalls in six months.

List of hills in the North Pennines

This is a list of hills in the North Pennines. To avoid the list becoming infinitely long and arbitrary, only hills with more than 30 m relative height are included. This includes all Marilyns and Hewitts as well as many other hills.

Topographically, the boundaries of the North Pennines trace the flow of streams from the lowest points between it and the neighbouring regions of the Lake District, Cheviots and Yorkshire Dales. This gives the boundaries as, primarily, the River Eden, River Tyne, River Tees and River Greta (from Stainmore Gap). This list therefore includes all hills to the east of the North Pennines including the low hills of County Durham.

Hills are grouped as topographically as possible, according to their 'parent Marilyn'. The parent Marilyn of hill A can be found by dividing the nearby area into territories, by tracing the runoff from the key col of each Marilyn. The parent is the Marilyn whose territory hill A resides in. Marilyns are given in bold.

In the table headers, H stands for height and RH for relative height.

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


Middleton-in-Teesdale is a small market town in County Durham, in England. It is situated on the north side of Teesdale between Eggleston and Newbiggin, a few miles to the north-west of Barnard Castle. The settlement is surrounded by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).


Ninebanks is a small village in south west Northumberland, England in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty 8 miles (13 km) north-east of Alston by road. It is noted for the early sixteenth century Ninebanks Tower, sometimes described as a pele tower, but possibly built as a watchtower. It is made of sandstone and has four floors, the lowest of which is now below the level of the road.

There is an independently run Ninebanks Youth Hostel, which is actually in nearby Mohope.

Old Moss Lead Vein

Old Moss Lead Vein, also known as Killhope Head, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Wear Valley district of County Durham, England. It consists of an exposure of a mineral vein in the valley of the Killhope Burn, just upstream from the North of England Lead Mining Museum.

The vein is visible as a 5-metre thick intrusion trending northeast-southwest through the Great Limestone. Mineralisation in the vein typifies the inner fluorite zone of the North Pennines Orefield, with galena and sphalerite in the centre of the vein giving way to fluorite and siderite toward the periphery. The site, under the name Killhope Head, has been designated of national importance in the Geological Conservation Review.

Pennine Cycleway

The Pennine Cycleway is a Sustrans-sponsored route in the Pennines range in northern England, an area often called the "backbone of England". The route passes through the counties of Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland. It is part of the National Cycle Network (NCN). Sustrans founder John Grimshaw calls it 'the best National Cycle Network route of the lot'.The majority of the route follows NCN 68. It also makes use of several other NCN routes including 6, 54, 62, 70, 7, 72 and 1.

It has a total length of about 327 miles (526 km). The route was opened in stages in 2002–03.


The Pennines (), also known as the Pennine Chain or Pennine Hills, are a range of mountains and hills in England separating North West England from Yorkshire and North East England.

Often described as the "backbone of England", the Pennine Hills form a more-or-less continuous range in most of Northern England. The range stretches northwards from the Peak District in the northern Midlands, through the South Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines up to the Tyne Gap, which separates the range from the Cheviot Hills. Some definitions of the Pennines also include the Cheviot Hills across the Anglo-Scottish border while excluding the southern Peak District. South of the Aire Gap is a western spur into east Lancashire, comprising the Rossendale Fells, West Pennine Moors and the Bowland Fells in North Lancashire. The Howgill Fells and Orton Fells in Cumbria are sometimes considered to be Pennine spurs to the west of the range. The Pennines are an important water catchment area with numerous reservoirs in the head streams of the river valleys.

The region is widely considered to be one of the most scenic areas of the United Kingdom. The North Pennines and Nidderdale are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within the range, as are Bowland and Pendle Hill. Parts of the Pennines are incorporated into the Peak District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Britain's oldest long-distance footpath, the Pennine Way, runs along most of the Pennine Chain and is 268 miles (429 km) long.


Teesdale is a dale, or valley, of the east side of the Pennines in County Durham, England. Large parts of Teesdale fall within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - the second largest AONB in England and Wales. The River Tees rises below Cross Fell, the highest hill in the Pennines at 2,930 feet (890 m), and its uppermost valley is remote and high. The local climate was scientifically classified as "Sub-Arctic" and snow has sometimes lain on Cross Fell into June (there is an alpine ski area Yad Moss).

Whin Sill

The Whin Sill or Great Whin Sill is a tabular layer of the igneous rock dolerite in County Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria in the northeast of England. It lies partly in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and partly in Northumberland National Park and stretches from Teesdale northwards towards Berwick.

It is one of the key natural features of the North Pennines. A major outcrop is at the High Force waterfall in Teesdale. Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Castle and stretches of Hadrian's Wall all strategically take advantage of high, rocky cliff lines formed by the sill.

The Whin Sill complex is usually divided into three components: Holy Island Sill, Alnwick Sill and the Hadrian's Wall-Pennines Sill, which were created by separate magma flows but about the same time.The Little Whin Sill is an associated formation to the south in Weardale.

East of England
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