The North Pennines & Hadrian's Wall
The North Pennines
The North Pennines is a very special place. It was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1988, due to its unique geology and landscape. It is also a UNESCO European and Global Geopark in acknowledgment of the area's Earth heritage. It includes parts of the three counties, Cumbria, County Durham and Northumberland. Its vast moorland and dales are known for their beauty as well as the wildlife that inhabits the area. 22,000 pairs of wading birds nest in the area, also red squirrels and black grouse can been seen too. The Pennines are home to 27% of the UK’s Blanket bog, 30% of its heathland and 40% of upland hay meadows, which are covered in wild flowers during late spring and early summer.
The Pennines also has a history of lead mining. It was once the dominant lead producing area in Britain, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. Though it has now disappeared, there is evidence of this industrial past still remaining in the landscape. Below are some of the fells found in the North Pennines.
Wild Boar Fell and High Seat
Wild Boar Fell is just beyond the Howgills, in Mallerstang on the Eastern Edge of Cumbria. It measures at 708 metres and has a flat top and steep sides, which contradicts its misleading impression of having a peak when approached from the North.
This fell is so called because of the wild boar that once inhabited it 500 years ago. From the top, you can see the Howgills, the Lake district, fells, the rest of the Pennines and the Yorkshire three peaks. High seat is the highest summit in Mallerstang, measuring a metre or so higher than Wild Boar fell at 709 metres. Together, Wild boar Fell and High Seat form the sides of Mallerstang. Between them is a valley. This can be walked, starting from Kirkby Stephen ending at Hawes along Lady Anne’s Highway.
Nine Standards Rigg is 662 metres high gets its name from the line of Cairns – ‘stone men’ situated just North of the summit. Some of these Cairns are ten foot tall and it is a mystery of why they were put there. Nine Standards Rigg lies upon the rout Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk and overlooks Kirkby Stephen, which is three miles away to the west. It is on the Border of the Yorkshire Dales and on the main watershed of England. At the summit, Rivers flow east towards the North Sea and west towards the Irish Sea.
The Highest point in the Pennines, is Cross Fell, at 893 metres high. You can access to it via dun Fell in Dufton. At the top of Cross Fell, you can see views of the Eden Valley, the Lake District and the Solway Firth as well as the southern uplands of Scotland. The plateau at the summit is part of a 20km ridge, which integrates Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell, thus adjoining all three of them.
Cross Fell is also known for the Helm wind. This is an easterly wind, which causes air to rise gradually up to the summit, cooling down in the process. The now cold air falls rapidly down the western slope. This is the Helm wind and it collides with the warmer air, which is then pushed upwards to the summit. The moisture in the warm air then forms a long bar shaped cloud along the tops of the fells.
Mickel Fell lies roughly ten miles South from Cross Fell and slightly off the main watershed of the Pennies. It is 788 metres high and is the highest point of both County Durham and Yorkshire. Mickel Fell and the surrounding Moorland is part of the Warcop training area (a ministry of defence firing range) and so access to the Fell is limited but you can reach it via the Eden Valley to the west or from Teesdale to the East. The fell lies in a large area of boggy moor and it takes time to get to from any direction you hike from. It is a Marilyn, which is Scarce in the Pennies. This is because of its summit in relation to the land around it. There are two hundred metres of lower land between Mickel Fell and it’s neighbours.
High Cup Nick
High Cup Nick is a deep opening in the fell side on the western edge of the North Pennies, nestled between Dufton and Murton Fell. The nick, a striking geological formation at the top of High Cup Gill, is part of Whin Sill. This overlooks the beautiful glaciated valley below where you can see the dolerite crags. These crags also form the two waterfalls, High Force (found near Middleton-in-Teesdale) and Cauldron Snout (Immediately below the dam of the Cow Green Reservoir.) High Cup Nick can be reached from Cow Green on the border of Cumbria and County Durham.
Alston is the highest market settlement in England, at about 1000 feet above sea level. It has steep cobbled streets, a market cross, ancient yards and many stone buildings from the 17th century. The church is dated back to 1618. Alston is 20 miles away from the nearest town in its position within the remote Northern Pennines. Alston Moors was once the site for prosperous lead mining in the past. This is portrayed at Nenthead Lead Mining Centre. The mining site covers 200 acres of the landscape and is the largest in the North Pennines. Middleton in Teesdale is a small market town in-between the Pennines and the River Tees. Because of the local Lead mining in the past, Middleton was prosperous and this shows in the architecture of the town. Today, it is popular for walkers, being part of the Pennine Way as well as many other footpaths, which are surrounded by the lovely scenery. Barnard Castle is also in Teesdale and named after the Castle it is built around. The Castle was founded by the Normans after the conquest and is set on high rock above the River Tees. The town is built on a steep hill with historic and attractive architecture and like Middleton, is a popular place to visit.
Bowes Museum is a Chateau type building founded by John Bowes and his wife who had it built in the 19th century. It contains collections of paintings and other decorative art. Another attraction is the gardens and Parkland. You can walk around and take your own picnic with you or if you wish you could have lunch in Café Bowes.
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