Welcome to the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark

Plan your visit


There’s plenty to see and do at Bowlees, whether you stay around the centre, or venture further on one of the many local walks in this part of Upper Teesdale. You can also find out more about other activities and places to visit in the rest of the North Pennines AONB. There are 2000 km² of wide open spaces to explore.

Plan your day

Here you’ll find some useful information to help you get the very best out of your visit to Bowlees. See the right hand side for opening times of the centre and the toilets – we’re open every day through most of the year but times and days vary through the winter. The car park is open year round.


By car

From Middleton in Teesdale take B6277 north west towards Alston. Bowlees Visitor Centre & picnic area is signposted by brown and white signs on the right just past Newbiggin.

Bowlees Visitor Centre is located at DL12 0XE

By bus

There is a bus service run by Hodgsons Buses from Middleton in Teesdale to Langdon Beck every Wednesday



Car parking

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership is responsible for looking after Bowlees Visitor Centre and the wider North Pennines. When you give a donation for parking you are helping to look after Bowlees and the wider area.

Suggested donations:

  • half day (up to 3 hours): £2-3
  • full day (3+ hours): £3-4

Our payment machine only accepts cash

Your donations help us to:

  • maintain the centre and its surroundings
  • run educational initiatives
  • develop new trails, routes and activities

Thank you for contributing – by working together we can make a difference by helping to care for Bowlees Visitor Centre and the wider North Pennines.

For electric vehicles, there is a mer charging point outside the visitor centre. You will need to install the Mer App to charge your vehicle. Mobile phone reception is patchy at Bowlees, so download the App before your visit or  make use of our public wifi in the building

Coach and group travel

Please note that coaches are unable to use the main car park.

Coach drivers can drop passengers off at the bus stop and then park for free in the nearby layby or the entrance to the lane to the car park. Alternatively coach drivers can drive to the High Force Hotel (1.5 miles west along the B6277) to park (charges apply and you may need to book), returning to Bowlees later to collect their passengers at an agreed time. All coach drivers are entitled to a FREE hot drink at the cafe. Please ask at the Information desk for a voucher.


We hope you find your visit to Bowlees Visitor Centre an enjoyable experience. Our staff are always keen to help and if you have any suggestions about what we could improve, please let us know.


There are four designated spaces for disabled drivers next to the visitor centre. You can drop off outside the main entrance. The main donate and display car park is located 160 metres from the visitor centre via a tarmac surface. Access to the centre is via a bridge, steps and gravelled footpath or via the road.

Toilet facilities

The toilets are located next to the Visitor Centre. Baby changing facilities are also located in the accessible toilet. There is also one basic toilet located near to the car park.

External access

There are two entrances to the centre. Both provide access to the main area. The front entrance comprises a permanent ramp to one single inward opening door (not automatic), approximately 1600mm wide and the rear entrance comprises level access through one single outward opening door (not automatic), approximately 1000mm wide.

Internal access

The centre is on two levels with internal ramps and steps. The central space is open-plan and you can access the café, shop and information desk via permanent ramps. The surface is a wooden flooring (which can be uneven in places). The gallery (and extra seating) is accessed via 20 steps.  The surface is carpet. Seating is available in the café and gallery.

Access to the grounds

Paths in the immediate area around the Centre are mainly flat or have shallow gradients. Paths are surfaced with fine gravel. The area with the outdoor picnic tables is gravelled.

Access beyond the centre

The path to Low Force is pushchair accessible, using the gates on the footpaths. Please leave all gates as you find them. The distance is approximately 500m one way with a mixed hard compact/gravelled surface. There is a major road crossing to join the path, so please take extra care. There is a flight of steps as you enter the woodland that can be avoided by taking the zigzag footpath to the right.

The path to the Bowlees quarry and waterfall is pushchair accessible. Distance is approximately 600m one way with a mixed tarmac/hard compact/stone surface.

Dogs at Bowlees

We are dog friendly, and well-behaved dogs on leads are very welcome at Bowlees in:

  • the shop and information area
  • the main café and outdoor eating area
  • Helen’s garden and grounds

Dogs are not allowed in the upstairs gallery.

Please pick up after your dog in all areas of the Bowlees site – many of our visitors are children who are here to explore, so it’s particularly important that you pick up after your dog to avoid messing up pushchair wheels and worse! Dog waste bags can be provided – please ask at the shop.

Guide dogs and disability assistance dogs are welcome. Please ask if you need assistance.

More at Bowlees

  • café and outdoor eating area
  • gift shop
  • visitor information centre
  • picnic areas (including some accessible picnic benches)
  • outdoor play places, including a mud kitchen
  • areas for wildlife watching

Please note that barbecues are not allowed anywhere on site.

Find Us

Bowlees Visitor Centre, Bowlees, Newbiggin in Teesdale, County Durham DL12 0XF

E: visitbowlees@northpenninesaonb.org.uk

T: 01833 622145

Opening times

In November Bowlees Visitor Centre is open weekends only, from 10am to 4pm. Closed from December until 19 February.