Residents of Weardale in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark are invited to the launch of a new garden and activity trail to celebrate invertebrates.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership has created ‘Bug Corner’ at the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope, and will be holding a community event for the official opening on Saturday 22 September, from 12 noon to 3pm. There will be an afternoon of mini-beast themed family activities, including ‘Six Legs’ an interactive insect theatre show performed by Cap-A-Pie, bug-inspired craft activities using leather and clay, bug hunts in the Durham Dales Centre gardens and a visit to Ashes Quarry with Butterfly Conservation’s Dr Dave Wainwright and the Weardale Wildlife Group. Bring a picnic and join in the bug high tea.
Pupils from Weardale Schools have worked with the project over the past few months to create art installations for Bug Corner to help visitors to learn about and love creepy crawlies. The North Pennines AONB Partnership has also commissioned Durham artist, Graeme Hopper, to create a large showcase sculpture to start the trail and this will be unveiled at the community event.
Bug Corner is part of the AONB Partnership’s Cold-blooded and Spineless project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and made possible by National Lottery players. Cold-blooded and Spineless focuses on recording and raising awareness of the many important species of invertebrates in the North Pennines, and the role they play in the ecosystem. Additional funding for the Weardale community activities has been provided by Arts Council England and Northumbrian Water.
Sam Tranter, Project Officer at the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “Bug Corner will be a fantastic place to go to find out more about the tiny creatures that play a big part in our ecosystem. The launch event will be the first chance to see the amazing sculpture and take part in the trail activities, but we hope that families will enjoy Bug Corner whenever they visit the Durham Dales Centre.
“What is lovely to see is the range of artwork produced by children from up and down the dale, alongside the eye-catching sculpture.”
Artist Graeme Hopper said: “The sculpture is inspired by drawings by Weardale school pupils. Working with the children I have incorporated their ideas and also made the insect as anatomically correct as possible.
“The resulting sculpture is really striking and I’m sure will draw people in to the garden.”
The sculpture will sit in a mini wildflower meadow, planted with plug plants grown from seeds collected in local Weardale verges as part of another Heritage Lottery Fund project, Plugging the Gaps. This will help to increase the number of nectar-rich plant in the area and attract pollinating insects to the area.
Places for the community launch event are free but please book a place online at http://www.northpennines.org.uk/events-calendar/bugcornerlaunch/ or email email@example.com
Young artists with an interest in astronomy and space are invited to enter a unique competition as part of the North Pennines Stargazing Festival.
Presenter of the BBC’s The Sky at Night, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE is headlining the festival with an event at The Witham in Barnard Castle on 20 October. The North Pennines AONB Partnership is offering young people the opportunity to win an exclusive ‘meet and greet’ with Dr Aderin-Pocock. Just 10 young people and their accompanying adults will be invited to a reception event followed by a question and answer session, and will also receive tickets to the event itself, ‘The Science of the Moon and Stars.’
There are two age categories, 6 to 12 years and 13 to 18 years, and entrants should produce a piece of visual art in any medium (no larger than A3) on a space or stargazing theme. For full instructions on how to enter, visit www.NorthPenninesStarFest.org.uk. Entries can be posted or delivered to the North Pennines AONB Partnership office in Stanhope, dropped off at the Partnership’s Bowlees Visitor Centre or can be scanned and sent electronically. The closing date is midnight on 7 October 2018 and the winner s will be informed by 10 October.
Entries will be judged by: Ann Whitfield, an artist based in Teesdale; Teesdale photographer Martin Rogers; and Simon Wilson, Business Manager at the North Pennines AONB Partnership who is also an artist.
Shane Harris, Responsible Tourism Lead at the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “The Stargazing Festival is a fantastic celebration of the dark skies we have here in the North Pennines. The North Pennines is the darkest mainland AONB and we have more Dark Sky Discovery Sites than anywhere else in the UK.
“We’re delighted to have such a high profile headliner as Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, and we are particularly excited to be offering young people the chance to meet and talk to her with this competition. We’re hoping for some really creative entries, exploring space and the stars.”
The festival runs from 20 October until 4 November and stargazers in and around the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark have almost 30 star-themed events to choose from. The programme covers the autumn half-term holidays for schools in Durham, Cumbria and Northumberland and will offer family-friendly events to enjoy the dark skies of the North Pennines AONB. There are also lots events aimed at aspiring astronomers as well as visitors with a general interest in the night sky and stargazing.
The 2018 North Pennines Stargazing Festival is once again being organised by the North Pennines AONB Partnership. It is being funded by Durham County Council, Northumberland County Council and Visit County Durham.
For the full event programme, please visit www.NorthPenninesStarFest.org.uk
An historic footbridge over the River Tees has reopened following a short closure for repairs.
The Wynch Bridge near Low Force waterfall in Teesdale has been repaired by engineers from Durham County Council and reopened on Tuesday 24 July.
The suspension bridge is a popular attraction at Low Force, and allows walkers to access a stretch of the Pennine Way National Trail from the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Bowlees Visitor Centre up to High Force.
Dating from 1830, the current bridge was a replacement for one which collapsed in 1802 that gave lead miners from Holwick access over the river to work in lead mines on the north side of Teesdale.
Earlier this month a routine inspection of the bridge found that suspension hangers were in need of repair. New steel brackets have now been manufactured and fitted to the crossing, allowing it to reopen.
Some further work will be taking place at the bridge later this week, although it will remain open throughout.
Brian Buckley, the council’s strategic highways manager, said: “We recognise the importance of this historic bridge and we’ve taken steps to repair it as quickly as possible.
“In the interests of preventing further closures we would please ask that all users adhere to the restrictions displayed at each end of the bridge and do not hang from or stand on its wires ropes. People should also note that use of the bridge for undertaking water related activities is strictly prohibited.”
Simon Wilson, from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “We’re extremely pleased to have the bridge reopened, restoring access to this very popular walk. It is such an iconic and well-loved structure and it is a popular entry point to a very spectacular part of the Pennine Way.
“This is a favourite spot for visitors to upper Teesdale.”
The council will be developing a scheme to fully refurbish the bridge and will carry out the work when sufficient funding is available.
A TEMPORARY ARTWORK has been installed to help bring to life a 320 million year old story of magma and rocks in the beautiful landscape of Teesdale.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership has commissioned artist Rob Mulholland to create a temporary visual artwork which will be installed at Low Force, responding to the geology of this special part of Teesdale. Natural Creation is based around highly polished metal figures and shapes in which you can see yourself and the landscape reflected together. It is part of a three year programme of new work supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and a range of other funders, in this case Arts Council England, celebrating and building on the North Pennines’ UNESCO Global Geopark designation.
The geology of Low Force has a story which goes back over 320 million years, to the Carboniferous Period of Earth history. Millions of years of changing climates and environments created alternating layers of limestone and sandstone rock, sometimes with a layer of shale. 295 million years ago, in the early Permian Period, molten magma welled up in the Earth through cracks and fissures in the layered rocks and spread out in a roughly horizontal layer between the Farne Islands and Teesdale. It never reached the surface (or we’d have had a volcano in the North Pennines) but instead it cooled underground for around 50 years, forming a hard, flat-lying layer that the old miners called the Whin Sill. Over the nearly three hundred million years since then, the rocks above the Whin Sill have been weathered and eroded away by Earth processes. Where the hard, erosion resistant Whin Sill crops out across the course of rivers, it forms the lip of waterfalls like at Low Force and High Force, just upstream.
Artist Rob Mulholland said: “Natural Creation celebrates the creative power and majesty of nature. My installation imagines the geological forces shaping and forming the land over millions of years. My aim is to reflect the dynamic forces at play in nature through the representation of the Whin Sill forcing its way through the ground. The mirrored figures represent our innate connection with our natural environment. They stand passively guarding the elements; a vestige of our past and a mirror to our future.”
Director of the AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark, Chris Woodley-Stewart, said: “Rob’s work gets us to look at the landscape and our place in it in a different way. It is a talking point and we hope people will come from all over to see the work and the fantastic Teesdale environment in which it is set. We’d like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England for supporting this work and helping us encourage more people to discover and enjoy this landscape and support the local economy.
“We’d also like to thank the Raby Estate for allowing us to install Natural Creation here on the banks of Low Force.”
The installation will be in place on the north bank of the Tees at Low Force, from 12 July to mid-October. Parking is available at the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Bowlees Visitor Centre, with a five to ten minute walk to the artwork. To share your images of Natural Creation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, please use the hashtag #lowforceart.
A stargazing festival to celebrate some of the darkest skies in England launches its programme today with a star-studded line-up.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership has announced that well known TV presenter and scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE will headline the 2018 North Pennines Stargazing Festival with an event at the Witham in Barnard Castle on Saturday 20 October. Looking at the world of space exploration and bringing her perspective on women in science and engineering, the Science of the Moon and the Stars promises to be an unmissable event. As well as fronting The Sky at Night, Dr Aderin-Pocock has appeared in many programmes including Stargazing Live, The Science of Doctor Who and In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World.
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE said: “I’m thrilled to be invited to headline at the 2018 North Pennines Stargazing Festival. It’s a fabulous area – officially the darkest mainland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – and is a brilliant place to experience stargazing in a truly dark place. A lot of my work is about looking at the wonders of space and what it can teach us and the festival is all about broadening the appeal of stargazing, space and science to a range of audiences – aims that are close to my heart.”
The 2018 North Pennines Stargazing Festival will offer a packed programme of fun and informative events from 20 October to 4 November. After the success of the inaugural festival last year, the programme has been extended to cover two weeks, spanning the autumn half-term holidays for the counties of Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria. The festival includes activities for more experienced stargazers alongside events for children and families. There are more Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark than anywhere else in the UK and the programme makes the most of the great places to enjoy the night sky right across the area.
Highlights of the festival include an exciting chance to camp out under the stars at Doe Park Caravan Site in Teesdale while learning more about the night sky, with star camp veteran and astronomy expert, Richard Darn. The popular Skywatch events return, once again at Killhope Lead Mining Museum, but adding events at Alston, Nenthead and Stanhope. Last year’s Skywatch at Killhope attracted over 250 people, who experienced the sight of the sky clearing to reveal the Milky Way. Each Skywatch event includes experts in attendance with advanced equipment and friendly advice, to help unlock the secrets of the night sky.
The programme is also full of half-term activities, from bottle rocket workshops and a solar system trail, to a Halloween Spooky Space special. For adults and keen astronomers wishing to take their knowledge to a new level, there are talks and astrophotography workshops, plus a chance to ‘tame your telescope’ with the experts.
If you can’t wait until the festival itself, there is a special preview during the summer holidays, with a special Perseid Meteor Shower event at Killhope Museum on Sunday 12 August where you can lie back in deckchairs and watch up to 60 to 70 shooting stars an hour.
The festival has been organised by the North Pennines AONB Partnership and is supported by Visit County Durham, Northumberland County Council and Durham County Council.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “We are very pleased to be bringing the stargazing festival back for a second year. The North Pennines is one of the best places in the country to experience really dark skies, and we hope that local people and visitors will enjoy the events on offer in this fantastic landscape.”
Michelle Gorman, Managing Director at Visit County Durham said: “We’re thrilled, once again to be working with the North Pennines AONB Partnership on the second North Pennines Stargazing Festival. Following on from the huge success of last year’s event, we’re hopeful that the programme of star-studded events and experiences will attract visitors of all ages to the area to appreciate the magnificence of the North Pennines’ dark skies.”
Discover the entire programme at www.NorthPenninesStarFest.org.uk
Wynch Bridge, where the footpath crosses the river Tees at Low Force, has been temporarily closed for emergency repairs. There is a diversion in place as shown, which will add 1.5km to your walk if you are heading to High Force. You can also still enjoy the short walk to Low Force from Bowlees Visitor Centre, and there will be a warm welcome at The Ford Kitchen @ Bowlees. We’ll post any updates here and on social media.
Everyone will be aware of the serious moorland fires elsewhere in the northern uplands. If you are out on the moorlands of the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark you should always be careful to guard against causing accidental fires, but it’s especially important in such hot, dry weather.
• Please avoid smoking on the moors and if you do, take extra care to ensure matches and cigarettes are properly extinguished.
• Don’t use portable barbecues on the moors
Enjoy the moors in this hot weather, but please do so responsibly. Wildfires damage valuable habitat and kill wildlife; they can threaten the safety of people, including the fire fighters who have to tackle them.
A European festival of geological heritage and education will ensure that half-term really rocks, with a series of walks, events and activities based in an area which is internationally recognised for the promotion of its geology.
The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark will be a focus of activity for European Geoparks Week. The joint celebration, between 25 May and 10 June, involves all of the UNESCO Global Geoparks in Europe, with events connecting people with the geological heritage of their local area.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership has organised events to appeal to families, geology enthusiasts and those who simply want to understand more about the geo-heritage of this fascinating area.
Running right up to the end of Geoparks week will be the ‘Map that Changed the World’ exhibition, which has brought a significant piece of scientific heritage into the heart of the Geopark. William Smith is known as the ‘father of English geology’ and an original version of his groundbreaking geological map is on display at the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s visitor centre at Bowlees.
Other highlights include educational and fun activities for children and their families over the May half term, guided walks looking at geological and mining heritage, and events that focus on the natural heritage that thrives in this landscape.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “European Geoparks Week is an opportunity for us to raise the profile of the area’s UNESCO Global Geopark status while also providing a programme of unique things to see and do that connect directly to the landscape of the North Pennines.
“We’ve been honoured to have the William Smith map at our visitor centre in Upper Teesdale. It will still be there in European Geoparks Week, giving people the chance to see this very beautiful and globally important piece of our geological heritage.”
26th May – Discovery Club, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Quiet as a mouse – looking at small mammals living in the dry stone walls around Bowlees Visitor Centre. Booking essential*
27th May – Nenthead Mines Open Day
Underground tours and geology walks above ground. No booking required.
28th May – Upper Teesdale’s Magical Meadows
With Durham Wildlife Trust. Drop in between 12noon and 3pm for meadow focused family-friendly activities at Bowlees Visitor Centre. Free event. https://durhamwt.com/event/upper-teesdales-magic-meadows. No booking required.
30th May – Wild Wednesday – Earth Works
Two sessions 10.30am -12.30pm & 1.30-3.30pm: rock and soil based activities. £3 per child. Booking essential*.
3rd June – The Makings of a Landscape
Guided walk from Bowlees Visitor Centre during European Geoparks Week, revealing some of the secrets of the geology of Teesdale and how it influences the land-form, land use and wildlife. 2.5 miles. Please wear boots or strong shoes. £3. Booking essential*.
4th June – Low Slitt and Middlehope Shield Mines Guided Walk
Join mining historian Ian Forbes and geologist Brian Young for a tour of these linked 19th century mine sites. The OREsome North Pennines project is bringing together our knowledge of the mining history, geology and ecology of these Scheduled Monuments. Come and find out how these features interact and overlap. Three miles with frequent stops. Grade: Easy. £3 – booking essential*. Please bring a packed lunch. 10:30am – 4pm – meeting point is the layby on the A689 in the middle of Westgate village.
9th June – Three Waterfalls in One Walk
In European Geoparks Week join us on a 5-mile walk that sets off from Bowlees Visitor Centre and takes in three stunning waterfalls, High Force, Low Force and Summerhill Force. Please wear sturdy footwear and waterproof clothing. £3. Booking essential*
Until 10th June – The Map that Changed the World
An original example of the 1815 ‘Map that Changed the World’ is the centrepiece of this exhibition, hosted by the North Pennines AONB Partnership at the Bowlees Visitor Centre in Upper Teesdale. Smith, an engineer and surveyor, travelled the length and breadth of the country to collect data, then went on to produce his vivid and detailed map, applying layers of different colours to indicate the various rock types. Alongside the William Smith map, visitors can see the evolution of geological mapping, from smith’s ground-breaking work, to the way such maps look today. Daily 10am to 5pm, free.
*For bookable events visit the North Pennines AONB Partnership website at www.northpennines.org.uk/events-calendar
PUPILS in local schools are exploring the secret world of creepy crawlies, as part of a project from the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership to record and celebrate invertebrates.
During May, June and July the AONB Partnership is taking its Cold-blooded and Spineless project into schools throughout Weardale, and children will learn more about the insects that are so important to the North Pennines and beyond. Younger children have been looking at invertebrates and other living things in a series of educational sessions, and each school has had the chance to see and take part in ‘Six Legs’, a lively and engaging play which brings to life the secret stories of the insects all around us. Small groups involving older children will then take part in sessions with artists, to produce materials for an invertebrate trail that will be installed in a community space later in the year.
‘Six Legs’ is an original and imaginative theatre show that was developed by Cap-a-Pie Theatre Company and insect scientist Dr Vivek Nityananda from Newcastle University. Cap-a-Pie has now been commissioned by the AONB Partnership to produce a new version of ‘Six Legs,’ which features insects local to the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark. There will be four performances in Weardale, attended by children from six Weardale primary schools and one Teesdale school.
Samantha Tranter, the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Cold-blooded and Spineless Project Officer, said: “We’re excited to have Cap-a-Pie here to perform ‘Six Legs’ and help bring the stories of these valuable insects to life. We hope that the children who take part in the sessions will be inspired by insects and mini-beasts and want to learn more about the important role they play, both locally and in the wider ecosystem.”
Cap-a-Pie’s Artistic Director Brad McCormick said: “Six Legs is a really imaginative and inspiring show for children. We hope the audience leave wanting to find and see insects, as well as having an understanding of what makes the North Pennines such an important and unique place for insects.”
There are 30,000 different species of invertebrate in the UK. According to the State of Nature report, 66% of invertebrates studied in the uplands have declined in the last 50 years. Yet for many species there is insufficient data to predict population health. Invertebrates are underappreciated for their contribution to the function of our ecosystems, from soil nutrient cycling to pest control and pollination. Many invertebrates are a vital food source for all types of birds, fish and mammals.
The education sessions are being delivered on behalf of the AONB Partnership by Jill Essam from the Harehope Quarry Project. Groups from Wolsingham School, and from Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope Barrington, St John’s Chapel, Rookhope, Wearhead and Forest of Teesdale Primary Schools will be taking part. Cold-blooded and Spineless has been funded by the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and runs until 2019. The Cap-a-Pie performances were supported using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.