There’s no need to wait for summer to get outdoors and get fit when you can walk in a winter wonderland in one of England’s finest upland landscapes.
The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark covers a large area of County Durham, Cumbria and Northumberland and offers a beautiful landscape for walkers in any season with high moorland, wooded river valleys, stunning waterfalls and welcoming villages.
And now you can pick one of five favourite winter walks chosen by members of the staff team at the North Pennines AONB Partnership so you can get to know the area even better in this often surprising season, whether you’re a photographer, wildlife watcher or simply a lover of the outdoors.
Simon Wilson, from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, explains: “There are over 120 self-guided walks free to download from our explorenorthpennines.org.uk website, with great opportunities for people to get out and benefit from the North Pennines countryside during the winter months.
“The interactive map on our website allows you to search for activities by area, meaning it is easy to plan your day around other essentials like a village start or end point that includes a visit to a cosy pub or café.”
The top five for winter are:
- High Force Geotrail: the ever-popular circular walk from Bowlees Visitor Centre taking in Low Force and High Force in County Durham, including part of the Pennine Way National Trail.
- Allenheads Geotrail: a three mile trail at Allenheads in Northumberland exploring the area’s geology and mining heritage.
- Derwent Reservoir Walks, Rides and Wildlife: an all-weather path around the reservoir, suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs and bicycles.
- Slitt Wood and West Rigg Geotrail: recently upgraded trail in Weardale which takes in fantastic wildlife sites alongside remnants of the area’s industrial past.
- Dufton Geotrail: learn how to read the landscape in this circular walk around Dufton Pike in Cumbria.
Paul Mitchinson, British Mountaineering Council (BMC) North East Area Meeting Hill Walking Representative and local walking guide adds: “There is little finer than enjoying the wildlife and tranquillity of a crisp winter’s day in the North Pennines, with the crunch of frozen ground underfoot and the sound of a stream your only distractions. When walking in winter especially in remote upland areas, you should always be prepared for the winter weather, have the right kit, know how to use it and explore within your abilities. The BMC has great walking skills resources and information at thebmc.co.uk to help you get started.”