Visit the North Pennines AONB – Discover Nature

by | Attractions, North Pennines AONB

Discover Nature when you Visit the North Pennines AONB

If you’ve visited Alston or heard anything about the Alston Moor area, you’ve probably come across the North Pennines AONB. You may also know that AONB stands for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but do you actually know what it means? Let’s delve into the significance of this designation and explore why the North Pennines AONB is a must-visit destination.

What is the North Pennines AONB?

Put simply, an AONB is an area of countryside in England or Wales that has been designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value. AONBs are protected in much the same way as National Parks, but they do not have a park authority with its own planning powers. Instead, local authorities and conservation boards manage these areas to preserve their natural beauty and promote sustainable tourism.

Designation and Size of the North Pennines AONB

Visit the North Pennines AONB Alston Moor

Discover the historical and scenic beauty of Alston Moor when you visit the North Pennines AONB, where history meets nature

The North Pennines AONB was designated in 1988, recognised for its breathtaking moorland scenery shaped by centuries of farming and lead-mining. At almost 770 square miles, it is the second largest of the 49 AONBs in the United Kingdom. This vast expanse includes a variety of landscapes, from open heather moors to deep dales, upland rivers, hay meadows, and stone-built towns and villages. Among these is Alston, a town that retains the legacies of its mining and industrial past.

Landscape and Historical Significance

The North Pennines AONB is a mosaic of natural beauty and historical richness. The landscape tells a story of human interaction with nature, where centuries of agriculture and mining have left a distinctive mark. The area was extensively mined for minerals such as barytes, coal, fluorspar, iron, lead, witherite, and zinc. These activities have shaped the terrain, creating a unique environment that combines industrial heritage with natural splendor.

Flora and Fauna

Visit the North Pennines AONB Red Squirrel

Spot rare wildlife like the red squirrel as you visit the North Pennines AONB, a haven for nature enthusiasts.

This AONB is also a haven for wildlife, featuring rare flora and fauna. It is home to wild alpine plants not found elsewhere in Britain, offering a unique botanical experience for nature enthusiasts. The North Pennines is one of the last refuges of the red squirrel in England, and its skies are often graced by numerous birds of prey. The diverse habitats support a rich tapestry of life, making it a critical area for conservation efforts.

Geological Features

The impressive landscape of the North Pennines, from the High Force waterfall on the River Tees to the sweeping valley of High Cup Gill above Dufton, is the product of millions of years of geological processes. The area is also a UNESCO Global Geopark, which highlights its international importance in terms of geological heritage. Visitors can explore dramatic rock formations, glacial valleys, and ancient river terraces, all of which tell the story of Earth’s history.

Unique Weather Phenomenon: The Helm Wind

High Force Waterfall can be seen when you visit the North Pennines AONB

Experience the majestic High Force Waterfall when you visit the North Pennines AONB, a stunning natural wonder.

One of the unique features of the North Pennines is England’s only named wind, the Helm Wind. This powerful and sometimes unpredictable wind has caught out many walkers traversing the plateaux around Cross Fell, the Eden Valley fellside, and the valleys between Alston and Dufton. The Helm Wind is a fascinating meteorological phenomenon, adding an element of adventure to any visit to the area.

Visit the North Pennines AONB

For those who appreciate stunning views and the quintessential English countryside, the North Pennines AONB is an ideal destination. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a wildlife enthusiast, or someone who enjoys exploring historical sites, this area offers something for everyone. Staying at places like Salvin House Alston provides a perfect base to explore the natural and cultural treasures of the region.

From the dramatic waterfalls and serene valleys to the rich history and vibrant wildlife, the North Pennines AONB is a landscape of both beauty and intrigue. So, if you’re looking for a place where nature and history intertwine seamlessly, consider visiting the North Pennines AONB and experience its outstanding natural beauty for yourself.

Leo Rees-Evans

Leo Rees-Evans

Since 2014 Leo has been helping small businesses in the UK stand out online, engage with their customers and accelerate online sales through powerful UX designed websites.


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