North Pennines Maps

The North Pennines is one of the most remote and unspoilt places in England.

This is a landscape of high, wild heather moorland and green settled dales, with tumbling rivers and waterfalls, an internationally important biodiversity and geology and a rich historic environment. The AONB crosses the boundaries of two English Regions, being in both the North East and the North West. 

The landscape of the North Pennines contains many habitats of exceptional conservation value, including blanket bog, upland heath, species-rich hay meadows, oak and ash woodlands, juniper scrub, flushes and springs and unimproved and heavy-metal rich grasslands. In addition, there is an array of flowering plants on the calcareous grasslands of Teesdale which is unique in the UK. Internationally important numbers of birds, including 10,000 pairs of breeding waders and 80% of England's black grouse, breed and feed on the open moors and adjacent grasslands.  The AONB includes parts of the Pennine Dales Environmentally Sensitive Area. 

The North Pennines has a remarkably high concentration of nationally and internationally important conservation sites. 36.5% of the AONB is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). There are also 3 National Nature Reserves, 5 candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive, with five more under consideration, and a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive. Moor House - Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve, Britain's largest terrestrial NNR, supports more than 20 species of Europe-wide conservation importance and in this context is the most important reserve in the country. In June 2003, the North Pennines AONB was awarded the UNESCO-backed status of 'European Geopark' (the first in Britain) in recognition of the area's world class earth heritage and the efforts being made to conserve and interpret it. 

Hill farming is important to the rural economy and is complemented by moorland management for grouse shooting. Other economic activities include the quarrying of limestone and mineral working in the Durham sector. The North Pennines was once the lead mining centre of the world, and the ruined traces of abandoned lead mines are now acknowledged as an intrinsic part of the landscape and its heritage, along with its associated social infrastructure, such as chapels and reading rooms.   

The Tyne, Tees, Allen, Wear and Derwent rivers drain from the upland plateau forming dales that each have their own distinct character. There are no major towns in the AONB and its largest settlements are Alston and Allendale Town.  Recent years have seen a modest increase in tourism, which to some extent is supporting local communities and the local economy.   

The North Pennines is excellent country for walking, cycling and wildlife-watching. There are many footpaths and bridleways to explore, including the Pennine Way National Trail, the C2C National Cycle Route, the Pennine Cycle Route, the Pennine Byway and the Pennine Bridleway. Derwent and other reservoirs offer opportunities for sailing, fishing, canoeing and even water ski-ing.  

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