Tom Cox comes to Teesdale
Our 'Updates' are listed with the most recent news items first. Click a title to see further details about current items.
Help protect our roadside verges
As part of its aim to restore and increase flower-rich habitats the North Pennines AONB Partnership is calling on people to pay attention to their local roadside verges.
Often overlooked, this network of narrow grasslands is home to some of the most spectacular and unusual plants in the UK but changes in the way verges are being managed means many of the plants are disappearing for good.
Once grazed by livestock, and looked after by specialist ‘lengthsmen’, these valuable verges are now generally managed by contractors on behalf of local authorities and because of budget cuts they are not always seen as a priority.
A refuge for rare plants
With hundreds of miles of verges throughout the North Pennines, the AONB Partnership is asking residents to let them know about any really flower-rich verges near where they live. This will enable them to work more closely with councils and local communities to protect these vanishing stretches of grassland that are often the final refuge of plants like orchids and globeflower.
Rebecca Barrett, Biodiversity Officer at the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “Road verges might be narrow but they link together to from a wonderful network of habitats across the North Pennines landscape. They are now some of the best places to see once-common wildflowers like wood crane’s-bill and melancholy thistle and are increasingly important wildlife corridors for other creatures like hares and bumblebees.”
Tell us about your roadside verges
“We are concerned that our road-side wild flowers are disappearing because of changes in the way they have been managed in recent years. We would like to encourage people who live in the North Pennines to have a look at their local verges and let us know of any that are especially flower-rich. Once we know where our best verges are, we can work with local communities and local authorities to make sure our verges keep hold of their wildflowers into the future.”
With careful management, and the cooperation of local communities, Rebecca believes that the roadside verges can continue to flourish and provide wildlife with a valuable habitat and food source.
If you know of a roadside verge that is either rich in wildflowers, or one you feel needs looking after and would like to know how you can help, please contact Rebecca on 01388 528801 or email email@example.com
Released: 15 July 2016
Bees, blooms, campfire cooking, river dipping and more
Forget all the other days of the week because at our visitor centre in Teesdale, Wednesdays are the only days you need to put in your diary.
Throughout the school summer holidays we will be hosting a weekly events for young people. Sessions are only £3 per child and they run from 11am – 3.30pm.
The sessions are;
Fabulous Flowers and Buzzing Bees – July 27
Marvellous Minibeasts – August 3
Outdoor Art – August 10
River Dipping – August 17
Campfire Cookery – August 12
Dens and Habitats – August 31
You can just come along or book online. Just click on Bowlees Visitor Centre to your left and go to events. See you there!
Released: 13 July 2016
Award winning poet and cartoonist team up in Teesdale
One of the UK’s best-loved wordsmiths will be teaming up with an award-winning cartoonist to perform a night of poetry and comedy in Teesdale.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership has announced that Yorkshire-born poet Ian McMillan, and Lancashire-born comic-strip writer Tony Husband, are bringing their stage show – A Cartoon History of Here – to Bowlees Visitor Centre on Friday, September 16.
Ian is a familiar voice on radio and TV. He presents The Verb every week on BBC Radio 3, and is a regular on Coast, Countryfile and The Arts Show. Tony is ‘Cartoonist in Residence’ at The Lowry and his work can be enjoyed every week in Private Eye, The Times and The Spectator, among others.
‘Breath of fresh air’
The show, which has been described as a ‘breath of fresh air’, with the pair being likened to comedy geniuses Eric Morecambe and Spike Milligan, is different every night as the two friends create poems and cartoons on the hoof, focussing on local tales and legends.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the AONB Partnership, said: “It’s great to have Ian and Tony perform at our visitor centre and we are really pleased to be able to bring such a well-travelled and well-loved show to Teesdale. These are two very funny and talented folk and I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic evening.”
The show is pitched at an audience aged between seven and 107, but there are limited tickets for the intimate performance in the former Methodist Chapel – with only 65 tickets on sale they are expected to be snapped up fast.
‘Exciting plans for evening events’
Nic Cullens, Visitor Services Officer with the AONB Partnership, said: “We have a lot of events at Bowlees and we thoroughly enjoy every one, but this is something quite special and quite different for us. We have lots of exciting plans for evening events at the Visitor Centre and this is an amazing way to kick things off’
The event starts at 7pm for soft drinks and nibbles and the performance starts at 7.30. Tickets are £14 and must be booked in advance. For tickets or further information please visit www.northpennines.org.uk or call Aimee Lee on 01388 528801.
Released: 30 June 2016
A two-day event to celebrate the 10th birthday of our Peatland Programme
The peatlands of the North Pennines will be celebrated at a two-day event at Bowlees Visitor Centre in Teesdale next month.
As a distinct part of this area for thousands of years, this often misunderstood landscape not only plays a huge part in the UK’s ecosystem, it also has been the foundation many people’s livelihoods and past times. From farmers to beekeepers, many have depended on this beautiful, and at times unforgiving, environment.
Marking ten years of restoration
To mark ten years of its Peatland Programme, the North Pennines AONB Partnership, will be curating two days of events and activities at their visitor centre just outside of Barnard Castle.
As well as a wide range of events for children, including pond-dipping, peatland games and bog-related arts and crafts, there are also trips from the centre to Upper Teesdale where there is an excellent example of healthy peatland – the type that the AONB Partnership is striving to maintain and restore.
‘Look closer to see true beauty’
Alistair Locket, Field Officer from the AONB Partnership, said: “At first glance they may not be as pretty as hay meadows but as you do with all the best things, you have to look a little closer to see its true beauty. Healthy peatlands play a huge part in maintaining water quality. Damaged peat releases CO2 into the atmosphere, which increases the effects of climate change. We are repairing the damage that has been done over the years. It’s a big job but we are making good progress.”
The weekend event will also have a working peatland restoration model, to show how the process works, and people can create their own ‘bog-in-a-box to take home with them. There will also be memories from people who have worked on peatlands in the North Pennines and photographs from the past 100 years.
‘Get your hands dirty’
Alistair said: “Peatlands have played a massive part in the lives of people that have lived and worked in the North Pennines and we’ve collected some great memories. We want to tell people about how important this type of landscape is, so there will be plenty of information. But we also want to make it fun and interesting so there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for people to get their hands dirty. Young and old!”
The event, which is free, will take place at Bowlees Visitor Centre on July 9 & 10 between 10am and 3pm. For more information on peatland restoration visit www.northpennines.org.uk
Released: 29 June 2016
Volunteers with a passion for wildlife and an eye for construction have been busy creating a residence with a difference at Bowlees Visitor Centre in Upper Teesdale.
As part of the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Cold-blooded and Spineless project, Buggingham Palace is fit for a queen bee, a frog price, an emperor dragonfly and countless other invertebrate tenants who are looking for a forever home.
Nooks and Crannies
But bugs don’t have to have royal connections to set up home in the quirky-looking abode, the countless nooks and crannies mean that there’s space for vast numbers of these incredibly adaptable and ecologically important group of animals.
Constructed from scavenged scrap, including broken plant pots, hogweed stems, palettes and building bricks, the visitor centre’s new bug house is a bid to increase the variety and survival of insects that live in and around the centre.
Our Fundamental Building Blocks
Samantha Tranter, from the AONB Partnership, said: “Making homes for insects is something we all can do – it doesn’t have to be on the scale of Buggingham Palace. Insects are extremely important in our everyday lives, something a lot of people don’t realise. They are the fundamental building blocks which all life depends on and the aim of Cold-blooded and Spineless is to understand what species we have in the North Pennines and how we can ensure they thrive here.”
National Insect Week
The palace was built to help promote National Insect Week, a bi-annual event set up by The Royal Entomological Society to encourage people of all ages to learn more about insects.
Released: 22 June 2016
The North Pennines AONB Partnership is looking for gardens that are buzzing with industrious bumblebees in a bid to understand what species are making their home in the area and increase their population.
Made possible thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Northumbrian Water, Nectarworks is a four-year project that aims to restore and create flower-rich habitats for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
“A world without bees is bleak”
Mandy Oliver, a Community Project Officer from the AONB Partnership, said: “A world without bees would be very bleak indeed. Most of our everyday fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, raspberries and strawberries, depend on bees and other pollinators.
“Flowers rely on bees to pollinate them and enable them to set seed. In turn, bees depend upon flowers to provide the nectar and pollen on which they feed. Wildflowers and bumblebees are of immense importance to us all as they are intimately bound to the production of our own food.”
To improve the prospects for increased pollination, Mandy and a team of volunteers have been surveying gardens in and around the North Pennines since 2014.
“We want to survey your garden”
Mandy said: “We’ve done 120 surveys in two years and all the feedback we’ve had is very positive. It’s been a good spring so far so hopefully 2016 will be even better. No matter what size your garden is we want to hear from people. We recently carried out a survey in a very small garden in Barnard Castle and we found six different species, size doesn’t matter.”
To have your garden surveyed by one of our Nectarworks volunteers please contact Mandy Oliver on 01388 528801 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Released: 17 June 2016
Tell Us About Your Countryside Hero
The North Pennines is England’s second biggest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) but with over 2,000sq km miles of stunning countryside, which is also home to a wealth of natural and built heritage, it takes a lot of looking after.
Every year, as well as all the efforts of farmers, landowners and conservation bodies, countless individuals and community groups roll up their sleeves and sacrifice their time to not only keep this landscape looking its best, but to also improve it for future generations – and the North Pennines AONB Partnership want to hear about them.
Praise Your Unsung Heroes
Through its annual Pendlebury Award, the AONB Partnership aims to pay tribute to those unsung heroes who make the area such a beautiful place to live, work and visit. They might be bat-enthusiasts who spend sleepless nights surveying, history lovers that strive to save buildings at-risk, farmers who have gone the extra mile for conservation or those who turn out in all weathers to help their local wildlife group. The award might also go to people who, in their daily work, have a deep impact on conserving the wildlife and landscapes of the North Pennines.
The Pendlebury Award was set up in 2013 to acknowledge the work of special individuals whose passion for conservation goes above and beyond the call of duty. It is named after the Partnership’s first chairman, Bob Pendlebury, whose tireless dedication to the North Pennines is an example of how one person can make a big difference.
‘Bob was an example to us all’
Chris Woodley-Stewart, the Director of the AONB Partnership, said: “Bob was an example to us all. He loved this landscape and worked hard to ensure it could be protected for the future and enjoyed by everyone.”
The award’s previous three winners include botanist Margaret Bradshaw OBE, former ranger and wildlife champion, Dave Liddle and last year by Ian Forbes for his years of dedication to the North Pennines, including the part he played in reviving Killhope, the North of England Lead Mining Museum.
Ian said: “I am extremely proud to have been given the Pendlebury Award last year. I knew and hugely admired Bob Pendlebury. His commitment to, and passion for, the North Pennines was legendary. It was an immense honour to have received this award created in the memory of a great man.
‘It’s A Great Thing To Win’
“Do you know someone who has helped make the North Pennines a more special place? I urge you to nominate them for this year’s Pendlebury Award. It’s a great thing to win.”
The trophy itself is made from local materials by Cumbrian sculptor Kirsty Armstrong, and depicts Bob amidst a field of lapwings.
AONB Partnership Chairman Cllr Eddie Tomlinson, said: “People who work or volunteer in the conservation sector tend to be very humble about what they do so we need their friends, families or colleagues to tell us about them.
“This is a chance to say thank you, in a very understated way. Having worked with Bob since the designation of the AONB I know he would have approved of this.”
Nominations forms can be requested from Kaye Jemmeson, Marketing and Communications Lead, North Pennines AONB Partnership by emailing email@example.com or by calling 01388 528801 for more details.
Entries must be received by 12 August. Full terms and conditions can be seen online at www.northpennines.org.uk
Released: 15 June 2016
We want your insect images!
In a bid to cast aside any thoughts of them being simply creepy or crawly the North Pennines AONB Partnership is appealing for close-up photographs which show the beauty of bugs and butterflies to celebrate National Insect Week later this month.
As well as collecting data of what species are making their home in the area, the Partnership, through its Cold-blooded and Spineless project, is hoping to put together visual documentation of invertebrates to show just how stunning insects are.
The Most Amazing Creatures
Samantha Tranter, who heads up the project, said: “With their gossamer-like wings and amazing colours these really are some of the most amazing creatures we have in the UK. From a distance you may not get to see just how intricately patterned our bugs are but when you get a closer look you can see that there is no reason to squirm at these small but perfectly formed mini beasts.”
Cold-blooded and Spineless is a five-year project that has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Northumbrian Water. Now in its second year, Samantha said they have already started to understand more about insects.
“This project follows on from Wildwatch, where we galvanised people from across the North Pennines tell us what mammals and birds they saw when they were out and about. We were so lucky with the amount of volunteers we got but when we changed the subject of study from feathery and furry to scaly and slimy we thought we mightn’t attract as many willing recorders. Well, we needn’t have worried as we’ve has so many people wanting to help,” said Samantha.
“Invertebrates, which are basically creatures without a backbone, are incredibly important to our lives as well as our landscapes. They pollinate fruit and vegetables, enrich our soils, provide a food source for birds and fish but because they are so small, we rarely notice or appreciate them.”
By gathering photography taken in the area Samantha hopes to dispel any myths that insects are unattractive, while also educating people on their importance in our lives.
Help To Identify Our Insects
She said: “The photographs need to fairly clear, so we can identify the species and look at the anatomy. We need to know when and where they were taken but we aren’t expecting these to come from professionals, we want everyone to get involved. Young and old, experts and amateurs.”
A Chance To Enhance Your Skills
Observations of invertebrates and other wildlife can be shared via the Partnership’s online recording system, WildWatch, with photographs. And for those who want to enhance their photography skills the AONB Partnership will be running a day-long course, specialising in taking close-ups of insects, in July at Stanhope Methodist Church Hall and the nearby Ashes Quarry, a haven for wildlife.
David Noble-Rollin, who has provided photography courses for the Natural History Society of Northumbria, will be running the one-day workshop to help wildlife enthusiasts capture images of insects, using live subjects and getting people out in the field to practice techniques.
To book a place on the course on Saturday, July 2nd call 01388 528801
Released: 02 June 2016
Planning permission granted
The night skies of the North Pennines will have more eyes on them after planning permission was given for a community observatory to be built.
Two sheds at the Old Schoolhouse in Allendale will be transformed into the new venture which has been funded by the North Pennines AONB Partnership as part of its Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership project.
Based at Allenheads Contemporary Arts, the observatory is set to become a valuable tool in the delivery of a broad program of year-round astronomical events, as well as a resource which will allow the local community and visitors to fully enjoy Northumbria’s inky black skies.
The observatory design was the product of a competition run amongst architectural students from the region. The winning design was created by three Newcastle University students and is being managed by architectural firm X-Site.
Andy Lees, from the AONB Partnership, said: “The observatory and the subsequent new North Pennines Astronomical Society, which is in the process of being set up, will be a fantastic addition to this network. We really want to encourage people to come and look at the night skies we have here because they really are an amazing sight.”
The North Pennines is home to some of the darkest skies in England. The AONB Partnership already leads the way with a strong network of Dark Sky Discovery Sites, which collectively run diverse events throughout the winter season at a range of remote sites.
Released: 02 June 2016