Bowlees Visitor Centre
Bowlees is a fantastic base for exploring Upper Teesdale, with footpath links to Low Force, High Force, Newbiggin and the Pennine Way.
The visitor centre, which lies just off the B6277 between Middleton in Teesdale and Alston, was reopened by the North Pennines AONB Partnership in June 2013. The building is a former Primitive Methodist Chapel which was built in 1845 and remodelled several times over the years. It is shown on an OS map dated 1860 but lying east /west rather than north/south. There is a re-set inscription stone in the current building which dates it to 1868 and the OS map of 1897 shows the outline of the building as it is today. It was last used as a chapel in 1968.
Bowlees Visitor Centre, Newbiggin, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham DL12 0XF
Tel: 01833 622145
If the centre is closed please contact the AONB Partnership staff unit on 01388 528801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- From 1 April 2014 seven days a week from 9am - 6pm
Admission to the visitor centre is free, small voluntary charge for the car park.Small admission charge to some events as advertised.
Wild Wednesdays will run each Wednesday from 23rd July to 27th August. The programme is still being finalised but will include river dipping, camp fire cooking, bug hunting, wildflower walks and much more. Sessions will run at 11am and 1pm each Wednesday.
Children £1.50 Adults free Family discounts available
Contact Nic Cullens on 01833 622145 for further details
Wild Wednesday 30 July
11a.m and 1 p.m
Rocks and Fossils
Come for a guided walk up to Gibson's Cave, find out how Summerhill Force was formed and make a fossil to take home. This activity is suitable for children aged 5 and above. Younger children are welcome but will need adult assistance.
Wild Wednesday 6 August
11a.m and 1p.m
Can you tell a millipede from a centipede or a wood louse from an earwig?Join us for a closer look at the invertebrates which make their home at Bowlees. This activity is suitable for children aged 5 and above. Younger children are welcome but will need adult assistance.
Saturday, August 12 - It may be summer but think of ice.
2 p.m - 5 p.m
Join us for a short talk on glaciation before going out on a guided walk to look at the effects of the ice age on Upper Teesdale.
This event is suitable for adults and families with older children (aged 11+)
£3 per person
Saturday, August 12 - As fast as your nails grow: Northern England's journey through geological time
An illustrated talk on the geological history of Upper Teesdale. This event is suitable for adults and families with older children (11+). Refreshments provided.
£4 per person
Friday- August 15 - Basket weaving in a day
10a.m - 4p.m
Come along and learn how weave a Swedish basket. Refreshments and all materials will be provided and the finished basket is yours to keep.
£40 to include lunch and all materials
Booking essential: Tel 01833 622145 for further details and to book your place
Saturday, August 16 - Dreaming the land children's day 10a.m - 4p.m
Join storyteller Malcolm Green and archaeologist Paul Frodsham on a guided walk to uncover the myths and legends behind the North Pennines landscape. Lunch and refreshments provided.
£15 per child, family discounts available.
Sunday, August 17 - Craft Fair, Goodsyard Craft and Collectors
The busy crafters of Middleton in Teesdale will be holding their first craft fair at the Visitor Centre.
Wednesday, August 20 Have a go at rag rug making
10a.m -4.30pm drop in at any point during the session and stay as long as you like
Learn the skills of rag rug making all materials provided plus small goody bag so that you can practise at home.
£3 per child Adults free
Friday, August 22 - Creatures of the Night
7.30 p.m - 10.30p.m
Discover the wonders of these night time flyers with the aid of bat detectors and moth traps. Refreshments will be available.
Adults £2 Children £1
Saturday, September 20 - Harvest Celebration
Saturday, September 27 - Dreaming the land storywalk and storytelling evening
10 a.m - 2p.m and 7.30 - 10p.m
Explore Upper Teesdale with archaeologist Paul Frodsham and storytellers from A Bit Crack. A guided walk will begin at 10a.m and an evening of storytelling at 7.30p.m. Find out some of the facts and myths about this enchanting landscape.
Day walk £10
Evening performance to include buffet and refreshments £25
Thursday, October 23 - Photographing the Stars
Saturday, October 25 - Basic Composition and Camera Craft
Aimed at participants with little knowledge this course will consider basic composition and will have a strong proctical element. Particiapnts should have a DSLR, Bridge camera or compact camera which can be adjusted manually. Booking Essential Tel: 01833 622374 for more details and to book
Friday, October 31 - Halloween Spooktacular
Saturday, November 15 - Wild Autumn
Saturday, December 15 - Winter Wonderland
More events will be added throughout the year. For more information contact 01833 622145 or 01388 528801.
An artist who takes his inspiration from the dramatic peat moors of the North Pennines has started a two-month exhibition which will run until the end of August.
Lionel Playford, who works from his studio in the upland village of Garrigill, near Alston, will be displaying a collection of his new works, which have been inspired by the evocative peatland landscape that covers more than 900sq km of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The work has emerged from a project that Lionel has been collaborating on with the University of Northumbria (UNN), looking at how contemporary landscape artists are art might be affected by their a first hand understanding of the science of climate change. Lionel has been focusing on the experience of weather and how it interacts with the land, this process being central to the creation of peat in the upland landscape which the scientists are studying through the extraction of peat cores.
Made possible with a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, Lionel’s work captures the evocative landscape of the North Pennines peatlands and its characteristic skies.
The exhibition will be open from 9am-6pm daily. Entrance free
Landscape lovers, wildlife watchers, walkers, craftspeople and anyone who wants to learn new skills or teach old ones are being encouraged to become part of the team. We would love to hear from you if you think you could help us with educational visits, activities or staffing the centre.
For further details contact Nic Cullens or download the
Tel: 01833 622145
Bowlees Visitor centre provides information and displays on the geology and landscape, wildlife and people of Upper Teesdale, and the AONB.
Car parking (small voluntary charge) is available at the nearby picnic area. Accessible parking and an electric car charging point are available in front of the centre. Toilets (including an accessible toilet) are available at the centre when open.
The centre has an upstairs room which can be booked for meetings and courses. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements.
Cafe 1618 @ Bowlees
Serves teas, homemade produce and other delicious refreshments including the Teesdale Lead Miners' Pasty and the Bowlees Baa Baa Burger.
The shop sells a range of maps, guidebooks and souvenirs together with nature inspired gifts and locally-made produce which this season includes delicious preserves from Just William, wildflower and heather honey from Tees View, recycled wooden gifts from Two Hearts and dressings and chutneys from Wildon Grange and Carwinley Preserves.
An upstairs gallery provides an exhibiton space for local artists and photographers. The current exhibiton which runs until the end of August, features the work of Lionel Playford (see details above).
Wild Wednesdays will run each Wednesday of the summer holidays.
Childrens' activities are available all year round - come and make a badge of a finger puppet to remind you of your visit to the North Pennines or investigate the rocks and fossils in our Rock Box. Just ask at reception for further details.
Upper Teesdale provides a wealth of opportunities for learning outside the classroom. Contact Nic Cullens on 01388 528801 or email Nicola@northpenninesaonb.org.uk for further details.
Other places to visit nearby
There is plenty to do in Upper Teesdale.
Within walking distance:
Within 30 minutes drive:
Eating and drinking
At Cafe1618@ Bowlees you can get coffees, teas and cold drinks, cakes and light meals, but there are plenty of other places to eat and drink in Upper Teesdale. There are hotels at High Force and Langdon Beck and a variety of cafes in Middleton-in-Teesdale
If you are looking to stay in Teesdale a bit longer there are lots of places within a short drive which will offer Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Look out for B&Bs with a Green Tourism (GTBS) accreditation!