25 Years of the North Pennines AONB
From bat watching and bird spotting, through to woodland walks and peatland runs, the North Pennines is the place to be this year as celebrations begin to mark its 25 years as a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
In 1988 the North Pennines was declared one of England’s most important landscapes and in this anniversary year 25 exciting, entertaining and educational events will take place right across the area to highlight the qualities that make it such a special place.
Looking forward to the year ahead
The AONB Partnership’s Director, Chris Woodley-Stewart, said he was looking forward to the year ahead: “The North Pennines is such a stunning part of the British countryside and with these events we hope people will get a chance to see why it has been recognised as having such national importance.
“We want people to get out onto the hills and into the dales of the North Pennines to discover, enjoy and celebrate what’s so special about this spectacular place.”
An array of events
The first event of the year takes place in April when dry-stone wall expert Peter Moorhead will guide beginners who want to try their hand at the ancient craft of dry stone walling at the new Bowlees Visitor Centre in upper Teesdale.
A host of events continue throughout the spring and summer with a wide mix of activities taking place every month for both adults and children.
In May there is a guided bird watch for beginners in upper Teesdale, lead by Chris Woodley-Stewart. And for the more energetic countryside enthusiasts a fell run will take place in July, deep in the heart of the Derwent Valley.
European Geopark milestone
And as well as raising a glass to 25 years as an AONB, the North Pennines is also celebrating 10 years as Britain’s first European Geopark, a status that recognises the area’s outstanding and unique geological heritage.
To mark the European Geopark milestone, ten of the 25 events pay homage to the area’s geology including a fun-packed day in June where young geologists will get a chance to explore the wonders of the area’s rocks and fossils in an event at Bowlees Visitor Centre, and several guided walks throughout 2013, including a 16km hike up to top of the not-so-little, Little Fell.
North Pennines Walking Festival
One of the major highlight’s in the year’s calendar is the first ever North Pennines Walking Festival. This new festival is being lead by the Friends of the North Pennines, with the support of the AONB Partnership and many other organisations.
The festival has been arranged to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Alfred Wainwright’s epic Pennine Journey when he set off from his home in Settle on a solitary walk to Hadrian’s Wall, passing through much of the North Pennines.
The festival launches on September 28, the same day as Wainwright set off on his 11-day odyssey. There are 15 separate walks taking place on the day, each following the legs of the legendary walker’s adventure. Find out more about the festival at www.northpennineswalkingfestival.org.uk
Dark Skies launch
Celebrations continue into the autumn and throughout the winter months with a steady stream of events, including the highly anticipated launch of the North Pennines Dark Skies Discovery Sites.
Ten places in the North Pennines AONB are in the process of being designated as Dark Skies Discovery Sites – places where people can experience the best that the night sky has to offer. Astronomer and award-winning photographer Graham Relf will be on hand at the launch night at Parkhead Station, near Stanhope.
The culmination of the year’s calendar is a bracing mid-winter walk on December 28 when the AONB Partnership’s Deputy Director, Peter Samsom, attempts to blow away the Christmas cobwebs with a climb to the top of Bolts Law in the Rookhope Valley.
Join in the fun
To enjoy the area at its best and get out into the wilds and join in with the celebrations, visit www.25events25years.org.uk to book a place on one of the events and to find out more.
Released: 28 March 2013