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 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

Opening times

  • 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

Wild Wednesdays will run each Wednesday from 23rd July to 27th August.  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 August 20 Outdoor Art and Rag Rug Day

Today our focus will be on art and craft. Join us at the picnic site at 11a.m  and again at 1p.m to take part in some outdoor creative activity. Rag rug making will take place from 10.00a.m to 4.30p.m at the Visitor Centre so why not drop in on that too.

Ticket price £3 for today includes both activities.

Activities are suitable for children aged 4 and above. Younger children are most welcome but will need adult support.

Wild Wednesday August 27 River Dipping

This will be our final session for this summer. Wear your wellies and join us by the Bowlee Beck and find out about the creatures which live there.

This acitivity is suitable for children aged 4 and over. Younger children are most welcome but will need adult support.

Other Events

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.

Entry free

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

Volunteering Opportunities

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 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

Staying nearby

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!

View of the waterfall at Gibson's Cave, near Bowlees
Logos - This image contains the North Pennine Dales funding logos 
Walking through hay meadows along the Pennine Way National Trail in Teesdale
High Force waterfall in Upper Teesdale