BOWLEES Visitor Centre in upper Teesdale is taking part in English Tourism Week in a bid to encourage people to discover and explore some of the delights on their doorstep.
This national annual celebration of English tourism takes place between March 25 and April 2 and this year the focus is on visiting attractions near to home and to mark the occasion the centre is teaming up with the Mercury to uncover some ‘Teesdale Treasures’.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership, which runs the centre that won Small Visitor Attraction of the Year at the 2016 North East Tourism Awards, is putting on three days of special events called ‘Behind the Scenes at Bowlees’.
Nic Cullens, Visitor Services Officer at Bowlees Visitor Centre, said: “When we think of being a tourist we normally think of travelling away from home to discover new places but often the best places to explore are right on your doorstep.
“ ‘Behind the Scenes at Bowlees’ is about showing people just what a wonderful place Teesdale and the wider North Pennines is. You don’t have to travel miles and miles to find somewhere new and three of our staff have prepared some special events, which are all free, to help you get to know the area better. And we want people to show us what they’ve seen over the week by posting photos on social media using the hashtag #teesdaletreasures and #englishtourismweek.”
Teesdale Treasures will run all week and Mercury readers can take advantage of a special offer of a free freshly baked scone with any hot drink bought in Café Fresh from March 25th to April 2.
The stunning landscape of the North Pennines has inspired many artists and the AONB Partnership’s Simon Wilson, whose dramatic paintings of the local landscapes are exhibited throughout the North East, will be leading an outdoor art class by the picturesque Low Force.
‘Worth a Thousand Words’ is a three-hour workshop for all abilities and ages and you need to book a place via www.northpennines.org.uk. Simon said: “There’s nothing more exhilarating than getting out into the open air and painting the beauty that’s right there before you, you can’t beat it because the work you produce doesn’t come just from what you can see, but it’s also from what you can hear and even smell. It’s a very sensory experience, painting outdoors.”
On Saturday April 1st, the AONB Partnership’s Director, Chris Woodley-Stewart, will lead a circular walk from Bowlees south, along the Tees and back to the centre via Holwick Scar. ‘The Director’s Cut’, which is a 2.5 mile walk (4km), starts at 10am and finishes about 12pm. Chris said his aim is to give people an insight into the nature of the area and what makes it so special.
He said: “There’ll be some geology, a little archaeology and a look at some of the birds of the meadows, river and riverbank. There’s bound to be walk-on parts for participants too – no one’s just an ‘extra’ in this Director’s Cut.”
The final event of the weekend on Sunday, April 2, will give people a chance to take part in a celebration of the season when the AONB Partnership’s Biodiversity Lead, Rebecca Barret, sets out in search of new life.
In Search of Signs of Spring is a short 1.5 mile walk around Bowlees quarry, talking place between 11.00-12.30 and again between 2.00-3.30. Rebecca said: “We will seek out plants, insects and birds but special attention will be given to springtime birdsong. We’ll be listening closely to identify just which bird is singing and also looking to see if we can spot them.”
Both the AONB Partnership and the Teesdale Mercury will be reposting images posted throughout the week and will be selecting some of the best to published in the paper in the coming weeks.