North Pennines European Geopark (UK)

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was Britain’s first European Geopark and has been a member of the Geoparks network since June 2004. This upland area, in the north of England, is a place of wild moors, remote hills, broad green valleys and scattered stone-built settlements.

The character of this unique landscape has its foundation in the underlying rocks. Layers of limestone, shale and sandstone form terraced hillsides, and have provided stone for the area’s distinctive dry stone walls and villages. The famous Whin Sill forms dramatic cliffs and spectacular waterfalls. Cutting through the rocks are veins of lead ore and other minerals. Centuries of mining have left a rich heritage of ruins and spoil heaps, now colonised by unusual plants. During the last glaciation a thick ice sheet smoothed the landscape, creating glacial landforms and deposits. A thick blanket of peat, which formed on the uplands after the ice melted, is a special habitat and represents England’s most important peatland resource.  You can explore this fascinating area through our festivals, events, children’s geology clubs, walking and cycling trails and much more!

Highlights in 2006 included:

  • ‘Wheels to the Wild’.  The AONB / Geopark team launched this new geologically themed cycle trail which includes an interpretation / route maps guide book, an Accommodation and Services Guide and a North Pennines Cycling Opportunities Map. 14 businesses and attractions en route were provided with cycle-friendly equipment like bike sheds, bike racks, two specially adapted disabled people’s bikes were bought as part of a new hire service and a marketing campaign saw over 50,000 promotional flyers in cycling magazines.
  • Hosting the summer EGN meeting in Barnard Castle. Over 50 EGN members and guests attended this successful event, which was supported by the UK’s Heritage Lottery Fund. At this meeting The North Pennines was awarded a ‘green card’ after a thorough assessment of local activity and contribution to the life of the EGN over it’s first three years of membership.
  • We completed and launched our ‘Teesdale Time Trail’ project, which includes 6 panels, four trail leaflets, a geological sculpture made with local school children and ‘human sundial’. This work aims to help people explore and enjoy their geological heritage, whilst growing in understanding of the vastness of geological time.
  • Our the ‘Rock Detectives’  children’s geology clubs went from strength to strength thanks mainly to our three local leaders at Fawside, Harehope Quarry Project and east Cumbria Countryside Project. The clubs now have over 200 members.
  • Northern Rocks, the 3rd North Pennines Festival of Geology and Landscape celebrated European Geoparks Week. There were almost 60 events over 14 days, with something for everyone.