Bird watching

The North Pennines is a wonderful place to watch birds. The rich mix of habitats, wildlife and stunning landscapes in the AONB is unique in England. The thrilling swoop and cry of the lapwing during its breeding display and the ethereal bubbling song of the curlew are just two of the wonders to be found.

The moorlands of the North Pennines support a wide variety of birds such as the abundant red grouse, 80% of England’s black grouse and nationally important populations of golden plover, curlew, short-eared owl and merlin. Other breeding birds using the moors include dunlin, redshank, oystercatcher and meadow pipit.

Our woodlands support uncommon species like migratory wood warbler, pied flycatcher, redstart and tree pipit as well as a range of common resident species. The woodlands of Allen Banks and Staward Gorge are home to a population of the fish eating gossander. While upland hay meadows are of great importance to breeding birds such as yellow wagtail, redshank and lapwing.

Our bird walks will introduce you to the North Pennines, its special habitats and birds. Alternatively book a place on a wildlife tour or take part in one of the events at the Moor House-Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve and Geltsdale RSPB Nature Reserve.


Allen Banks & Staward Gorge: North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 3

Pied flycatcher © NPAP
In spring and early summer the ancient woodland at Allen Banks and Staward Gorge bursts with the songs of birds such as the wood warbler and willow warbler, song thrush and wren. At quieter times of year these woods are still well worth a visit. In autumn the trees are a blaze of orange and yellow while rich clusters of fungi decorate the woodland floor. Even in winter, the activity of resident woodland birds provides a welcome contrast to the comparative quiet of the surrounding countryside.
Location:
The National Trust car park at Allen Banks and Staward Gorge (NY797641).
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, Steep sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Allendale: Hay Time Walk 1

Great burnet © NPAP/Rebecca Barrett
Take a 2 hour walk around South Wooley Farm in Allendale and get close to one of the world’s rarest and most endangered habitats, Upland Hay Meadows. There are only about 11 square kilometres of upland hay meadows left in the whole of the UK. Just under half of these are here in the North Pennines Area of Oiutstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark. This walk takes you along country lanes and public footpaths through, or alongside, several hay meadows on the farm. Please keep to the paths, leave gates as you find them and keep dogs under close control, preferably on a short lead.
Location:
Starting from the car park in Allendale Town (NY837558).
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Recreation opportunities:

Ark on the Edge - Animal Rescue Centre, Teesdale

Ark on the Edge © Ark on the Edge
Ark on the edge is an animal rescue centre and sanctuary and has a fully equipped wildlife education centre and a mile-long nature trail. The centre offers courses in animal care and group visits are welcome. It is open to the public to visit, see the animals, walk the nature trail, or you can do a spot of pond dipping. Ark on the Edge welcomes disabled visitors, call for details (01833 630505).
Location:
Woolley Hill Farm, Woodland, Co. Durham, DL13 5RX (NZ044249)
Distance:
2 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Baldersdale: Hay Time Walk 3

Species rich meadow © NPAP/Rebecca Barrett
This short walk in Baldersdale visits some of the most spectacular hay meadows in the North Pennines. It also passes close to Hury Reservoir, a popular site for over-wintering wildfowl such as mallard, teal, tufted duck and goosander. The best time to see the flowers is between April and August. Meadows are great for water voles as they favour stream sides with a wide range of flowering plants. The North Pennines is one of their last strongholds
Location:
Starting from the small car park at Fiddler House (NY971189).
Distance:
6 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Access:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Baybridge Picnic Area

The River Derwent runs alongside this small picnic area. The river used to be the boundary between County Durham and Northumberland. Hundreds of years ago the river changed its course but the boundary stayed the same and this is why the picnic site, although north of the river, belongs to Durham County Council. The sound of the flowing water is very peaceful and this is a nice place to stop and have a picnic. While sitting, look out for dippers and kingfishers by the water and buzzards flying overhead. Baybridge is an ideal starting point for local walks. Within easy reach are moorland walks, woodland walks through places such as Deborah Wood and Gibraltar, wonderful riverside walks to Derwent Reservoir and an easy access route to the historic village of Blanchland.
Location:
Baybridge is located near the B6306 near Blanchland. From Blanchland head west for 0.5 mile. The site is signposted from the road. The nearest postcode for GPS navigation is DH8 9UB,
Access:
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Blackton Reservoir: North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 14

Oystercatcher © NPAP
The meadows, pastures and allotments of Baldersdale support large numbers of breeding waders which make an impressive sight during the spring and summer months. Like all areas of open water in the North Pennines, Blackton Reservoir also provides a refuge for wildfowl during the harsh winter months. This area is therefore worth a visit at any time of year.
Location:
Starting from the small car park at the road end (NY935176).
Distance:
6 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

Blanchland: Along the river bank (A trail of three tails!)

Blanchland in bloom © NPAP/Shane Harris
This short walk takes you from the village of Blanchland along the River Derwent to the hamlet of Baybridge and back. You'll walk back to Blanchland through lovely mixed woodlands and perhaps get a glimpse of the elusive Water Vole - if you're really, really lucky! The path may be wet and muddy in places and you will come across exposed tree roots.
Location:
Staring from Blanchland car park (NY964505).
Distance:
2 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Blanchland: North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 5

Dipper © NPAP
This short walk from the attractive and historic village of Blanchland combines both woodland and river habitats. Birds such as coal tit, goldcrest and dipper are active throughout the year. During the breeding season, more elusive species such as the pied flycatcher and spotted flycatcher can also be seen. Blanchland is sited within the remains of a monastery founded by Premonstratensian Monks in the 12th century. The Lord Crewe Arms hotel was originally built as the Abbot’s lodge, guest house and kitchens of the Abbey.
Location:
Starting from the car park in Blanchland (NY964505).
Distance:
3 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Access:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Bowlees Picnic Area

Gibsons cave © NPAP/Beck Baker
Bowlees picnic area is found is located in a beautiful part of Upper Teesdale. There are four small waterfalls and a riverside footpath leading to Summerhill Force and Gibson’s Cave; Gibson was a 16th century outlaw who lived behind the waterfall to stay hidden from the law. There are plenty of places to sit in quiet contemplation surrounded by the sound of cascading water. Look for the white breast of the dipper bobbing in and out of the water searching for food or the buzzard soaring above your head. The old limestone quarry contains many limestone-loving wildflowers, including seven species of orchids, knapweed and wild thyme. These plants attract butterflies and other insects, which are prey for magnificent dragonflies.
Location:
The picnic area is located in the car park behind Bowlees Visitor Centre off the B 6277.
Terrain:
Off road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Bowlees Visitor Centre

Bowlees Visitor Centre    © NPAP
Bowlees Visitor Centre, run by the North Pennines AONB Partnership, is a fantastic base for exploring Upper Teesdale, with footpath links to Low Force, High Force, Newbiggin and the Pennine Way. The Centre provides information and displays on the geology and landscape, wildlife and people of Upper Teesdale and the wider North Pennines. You'll find a delicious range of food and drinks and our shop stocks nature inspired gifts and books. You'll find a range of special events are running at the Centre throughout the year. You can also hire the venue for family get-togethers, parties and meetings. We have a range of outdoor cooking facilities which can be pre-booked. The Centre is dog-friendly and you'll find free Wi-Fi access, an iGlass (24-hour information touch screen) and an electric car-charging point. Follow the Richard Watson Trail from the Centre - a 2¾-mile circular route exploring the life and times of Richard Watson, Victorian lead miner and poet. The most popular walk is probably the High Force-Low Force Round. The Centre is also an official Dark Sky Discovery Site.
Location:
Newbiggin, Bowlees, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Co. Durham, DL12 0XE (grid ref - NY906281). 01833 622145.
Area:
Facilities nearby

Burnhope Head: North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 7

Merlin © NPAP
Even in the depths of winter the heather moorland at Burnhope Head is home to large numbers of red grouse. Seeming to catapult from the heather in display whilst giving their loud “get back, get back” call, red grouse are a dramatic sight. During spring and summer their numbers are swelled by a multitude of breeding waders and the moorland seems to burst with life. With sweeping views all around, this is always an impressive walk.
Location:
Starting from the large lay-by near Dead Friars Stone (NY973453).
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

Cowshill (Weardale): North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 8

Short-eared owl © NPAP
The pastures and allotments in Upper Weardale form a distinctive fringe around the edge of the heather moorland. Typically tussocky with clumps of rushes, these grasslands are an important nesting habitat for wading birds and large numbers can be seen and heard during the breeding season. The adjacent moorland is home to red grouse and golden plover and may sometimes be graced by the presence of a short-eared owl.
Location:
Starting from the car park at Cowshill (NY856406).
Distance:
2 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Derwent Gorge: North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 6

Redstart © NPAP
The upland oak woodland of the Derwent Gorge is a dramatic relic of the once extensive forests of the North Pennines. Now a National Nature Reserve managed by Natural England, this woodland contains many interesting and unusual plants such as sweet woodruff, enchanters’ nightshade and wood bitter-cress as well as a great range of resident and migratory birds. Views across the woodland canopy from the gorge sides are impressive and are excellent for bird watching. The walk begins on the edge of the wood in an area of arable farmland, offering opportunities for you to see both farmland and woodland birds.
Location:
Starting from the grassy parking area at the crossroad between Wallish Walls and Crooked Oak (NZ057500).
Distance:
2 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

Derwent Reservoir - Walks, rides and wildlife

Derwent Reservoir © NPAP/Shane Harris
Derwent Reservoir is within the North Pennines AONB and, after Kielder, is the second largest reservoir in the region. There is a multi-user path from Pow Hill Country Park (south shore) to the dam at the eastern end of the reservoir and then round the north shore to Millshield Picnic Area. You can find out more about the reservoir, its wildlife and its history as you go, on foot or by bike. Cyclists can make a longer circular route around the reservoir by combining the shore path with local roads.
Location:
Derwent Reservoir is in the north-eastern part of the North Pennines AONB, between Blanchland and Edmundbyers - the south shore is in County Durham and the north shore is in Northumberland. Start from Pow Hill Country Park (NZ011517 / DH8 9NU - nearest) or Millshield Picnic Area (NZ013532 / DH8 9PT - nearest).
Distance:
3 km
Facilities nearby
Interests:

Derwent Reservoir and Pow Hill Country Park

Couple walking at Pow Hill Country Park © NPAP
Welcome to Derwent Reservoir and Pow Hill Country Park! This leaflet is one of a number of ways in which you can find out about the wildlife and history of Derwent Reservoir and Pow Hill Country Park. The heathland around the reservoir is a haven for reptiles like Adders, Slow Worms and Common Lizards. The reservoir is also important to many species of birds which use it as a migratory stop over and breeding site.
Location:
Routes starting from either Derwent Reservoir car park or Pow Hill Country Park car park.
Distance:
2 km
Terrain:
Off road sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Derwent Reservoir: North Pennine Birdwalks - Site 1

Black headed gull © NPAP
Derwent Reservoir can be an interesting place to watch birds at any time of year. Wildfowl such as greylag goose, mallard, teal and tufted duck may be seen year-round, their numbers being swelled during autumn and winter by wigeon, pochard and goldeneye. Large flocks of gulls also congregate on the reservoir during the winter, most notably black headed, common and herring gull. Other species of interest include grey heron, goosander, cormorant and great crested grebe.
Location:
Multiple viewing points around the reservoir.
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Dufton Pike: North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 11

Wheatear © NPAP
Soaring above the Eden Valley, the North Pennine escarpment is a striking feature above Dufton. This walk circumnavigates Dufton Pike, offering dramatic views of the limestone crags of Great Rundale. Ideal habitat for buzzards, these birds are regularly seen in this area. More elusive, the ring ouzel may also be found, singing from one of the gnarled hawthorn trees that dot the hillside.
Location:
Starting from the car park in Dufton (NY689249).
Distance:
7 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Egglesburn Wood

Dipper © www.northeastwildlife.co.uk
This woodland came into Durham County Council ownership when the sand and gravel quarry closed in the mid 1960s. Since that time the trees have seeded into the quarry and we now have mixed broadleaved woodland. Eggleston Burn runs along the western edge beside the old sand quarry. In the summer sand martins nest in the cliff face and can be seen from the bottom path. Other birds to watch out for are dippers and birds of prey such as red kite and buzzard. Deer and badger occasionally stray through the wood and many rabbits burrow through the soft sandy soil. Every now and then an otter is sighted on its journey along the river. There are fantastic views over Teesdale and Mickle Fell, which, standing at 788m, is the highest hill in County Durham.
Location:
1 mile west of Eggleston on the B6282 between Eggleston and Middleton-in-Teesdale. The entrance is next to Egglesburn bridge. Nearest postcode for GPS navigation is DL12 0BD. There is limited parking at the entrance.
Terrain:
Off road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:
Download:

Garrigill: North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 10

Common sandpiper © NPAP
The South Tyne is a narrow, fast flowing river as it tumbles north from the village of Garrigill. Travelling along its bank, this walk offers you the chance to see species such as common sandpiper, oystercatcher and grey wagtail. The surrounding fields abound with breeding waders during spring and summer and during winter large flocks of fieldfare and redwing may be seen.
Location:
Starting from a small parking area in Garrigill next to the red phone box (NY745416)
Distance:
9 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Hamsterley Forest

Hamsterley Forest © NPAP/Louise Taylor
County Durham's largest forest is a mixture of woodland, meadows and forest. There are excellent walking, cycling and horse riding trails for all abilities. The forest also has a childrens' adventure playground, tea room, cycle hire, shop and downhill mountain bike course.
Location:
Hamsterley Forest (NZ091312 / DL13 3QH).
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:

Hannah's Meadow Nature Reserve

Hannah's Meadow © NPAP/Shane Harris
Hannah's Meadow Nature Reserve has some of the least improved and species rich upland hay meadows in upper Durham. The meadows were previously farmed by Hannah Hauxwell, who managed the meadows using traditional methods that avoided adding artificial fertilizers or reseeding. By doing so the species rich habitat hay meadow habitat that evolved over centuries was maintained. When Hannah retired in 1988 Durham Wildlife Trust purchased her farm and they now manage it as a nature reserve. An unmanned visitor centre at the site provides information about Hannah and her special meadows. Note facilities are located at Balderhead Reservoir car park.
Location:
From Barnard Castle follow the B6277 to Romaldkirk and then follow the Balderhead road via Hunderthwaite. The reserve is adjacent to the public road a 1.5 mile east of the Balderhead Reservoir car park. The Pennine Way footpath runs through the reserve. The grid reference refers to the Balderhead Reservoir car park.
Distance:
2 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

Harwood Beck and Widdybank: North Pennine Birdwalks - Site 3

Redshank © NPAP
The meadows and pastures around Harwood Beck and Widdybank are some of the best places to see breeding waders and black grouse. If you sit quietly in your car you may be rewarded with the sight of a snipe shepherding its chicks through the vegetation or a precocious young lapwing chick pecking for food in the short turf.
Location:
Static viewing from a grassy verge on the road to Cow Green Reservoir.
Terrain:
On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Hayberries Nature Reserve

Sand martins © www.northeastwildlife.co.uk
Hayberries is a reclaimed sand and gravel quarry which is now a haven for wildlife. parts of the quarry cliff have been retained and put to good use by a colony of sand martins which arrive from Africa at the end of march. They set up home by burrowing into areas of hard sand found along the old quarry face to the west of the site. This part of the site is fenced to prevent disturbance to the birds. Please do not climb over the fence, the sand martins can be seen quite easily from the car park as they collect nesting material. The sandy soil is a rare habitat which contains specialist plants as well as invertebrates such as solitary bees and wasps. The grassland has many native species of wildflowers colonising the bare ground. Of particular note are a number of rare flowers of the Alchemilla family, commonly known as Lady's Mantle, some of which are only found in County Durham. The ponds attract large numbers of frogs and toads during the breeding season, along with many aquatic plants and insects. The woodland at the eastern end of the site is mainly sycamore with a few old oak and elm trees. You may see a variety of birds including long-tailed tits, woodpeckers, tree-creepers and heron. Buzzards circle the skies above, along with curlew and lapwing.
Location:
Hayberries is located on the B6281 between Eggleston and Mickleton, approximately 1.5 miles west of the junction of the B6281 and B6282 at Eggleston, signposted from the road. The nearest postcode for GPS navigation is DL12 9EQ.
Terrain:
Off road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

High Force and Bowlees Geotrail

High Force ©
This 8km circular walk, from Bowlees Visitor Centre or High Force car park, will introduce you to some of the special features of the landscape around High Force and Low Force waterfalls. You'll discover rocks with dramatic origins, ice age features, ancient settlements, lead mining heritage and wonderful wildlife.
Location:
Circular walk which can be started from Bowlees Visitor Centre (NY906282 / DL12 0XE) or High Force car park (NY885286 / DL12 0XH) in Upper Teesdale.
Distance:
8 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Howden Burn (Weardale): North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 13

Lapwing © NPAP
Passing through grassland and up onto heather moorland, this walk provides splendid views across the open uplands and down to the Bollihope Burn. It is a fine area to watch wading birds during the breeding season when the air is filled with their songs and displays. Redstart, great spotted woodpecker, tits and warblers can also be seen or heard in the riverside woodland.
Location:
Starting on short turf at roadside beside the Bollihope Burn (NZ005349).
Distance:
3 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

Ireshopeburn (Weardale): Hay Time Walk 2

Path to the hay meadows in Ireshopeburn © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
Take a 2 hour walk in Weardale, a landscape that has been farmed and mined for centuries. This five kilometre walk close to Ireshopeburn crosses some beautiful meadows, with superb views of the surrounding moorland and villages in the dale below. The best time to go is between April and August to catch the wildflowers in full bloom. It is still a worthwhile walk outside of these times due to presence of late blooming flowers can be seen in mid Autumn and wading birds in the Spring.
Location:
The walk starts in the village of Ireshopeburn in Weardale (NY866386).
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Lambley and the South Tyne: North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 1

Curlew © NPAP
This walk combines a number of different North Pennine habitats to dramatic effect. You will pass through an expansive area of rushy allotment adjacent to heather moorland where in spring and summer the air is alive with the sounds and sights of numerous breeding waders. The views across the South Tyne Valley are similarly impressive. By contrast, the second leg of the walk passes along the route of a disused railway line that is largely clothed in woodland, offering tantalising glimpses of the surrounding countryside and excellent opportunities to see and hear woodland birds. The walk centres on Lambley Viaduct, a stunning landscape and architectural feature from where the River South Tyne and its wildlife can be viewed from on high.
Location:
Lambley Viaduct – South Tyne Trail car park (NY679595).
Distance:
13 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Recreation opportunities:

Low Barns Nature Reserve

Red Kite © www.brianraffertywildlifephotographer/blogspot.com
Low Barns is a valuable wetland reserve and one of County Durham’s most important wildlife sites, located adjacent to the River Wear. The reserve has become important for wildlife due to the wide range of habitats including wet woodland, grassland, open water and river side, which are home to many different types of birds, mammals, plants and insects. However, Low Barns has not always been a haven for local wildlife. Originally farmland, the site underwent sand and gravel extraction until 1964 when the area was given to Durham Wildlife Trust and restored as a nature reserve. In 2003 a redundant sewage treatment works on the site was replaced with a new reedbed habitat and a boardwalk which enabled public access with minimal disturbance to wildlife. The site’s flat terrain and large accessible bird hides make it an ideal place to visit for everyone. The Visitor Centre has a coffee shop that sells light refreshments, books, gifts, locally made bird boxes and a full range of bird food and feeders from the award winning Vine House Farms. The centre and bird hides provide a wealth of information on how Low Barns was created and the wildlife it supports. Screens in the centre show images from the bird feeding station and bird boxes around the site, and there is a display of wildlife photography provided by the Low Barns Photography Group.
Location:
Durham Wildlife Trust, Low Barns Nature Reserve, Witton-le-Wear, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL14 0AG.
Terrain:
Off road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Newbiggin and the Carriers’ Way

Walkers on the heather moors © NPAP/Shane Harris
This leaflet is one of a series designed to help you discover the treasures of Blanchland - both natural and man-made. This attractive walk takes you from Blanchland, along the River Derwent, up on to open moorland. The moorland is exposed and can experience harsh weather. The wild landscape surrounding Blanchland bustles with evidence of people, from Mesolithic hunters to lead miners and modern land managers. Everywhere you look you see the imprint of our ancestors. Many landscape scars have been hidden by nature and it is hard to believe that in the not-so-distant past this quiet landscape was once home to major industry.
Location:
The walk starts from Blanchland car park (NY964505)
Distance:
14 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

North Pennine Birdwalks Site 2: Ouston Fell

Swallow © NPAP
Whitfield Moor and Ouston Fell support large numbers of breeding waders and red grouse. This is a good place to watch displaying waders and, if you’re lucky, hunting birds of prey. It is also an excellent spot to simply enjoy the evocative calls and songs of moorland birds during spring and summer. Blocks of conifer woodland which surround the site often provide breeding sites for birds of prey. Look out for buzzards soaring overhead and listen for twittering flocks of siskins.
Location:
Static viewing from the large lay-by near the conifer plantation on the A686.
Terrain:
On road sections
Access:
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Over the hill to Cowbyre Farm

Derwent Reservoir from above Blanchland © NPAP
This is a varied walk that begins with a climb up from the village of Blanchland. The walk passes through woodland and pasture with magnificent views of the Derwent Valley and Edmundbyers Common, finally dropping down to the river and returning to the village.
Location:
Staring from Blanchland car park.
Distance:
6 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

RSPB Geltsdale Walking Trails

Stagsike Cottage at RSPB Geltsdale © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
Set in the beautiful North Pennines AONB, Geltsdale is home to black grouse, birds of prey and breeding wading birds and is ideal for walking. There are 4 way marked trails leading from the car park of Howgill. The Stagsike trail will take 1-2 hours to walk and the other trails a little longer. Stagsike Cottages are approximately a 40 minute walk from the parking area and provide an information point and toilets. Many of the trails are on existing tracks but boots are essential for much of the year and waterproofs are recommended. There is no general vehicle access to Stagsike Cottages but disabled access can be pre-arranged by phoning the reserve (01697 746717). Trails are open at all times and the information point is open between 9am and 5pm. Dogs are welcome but they should be kept on a lead as the reserve is a working farm. A bus services the village of Hallbankgate, which is approximately a mile away.
Location:
Starting from Clesketts car park (NY588584), near Hallbankgate.
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Slitt Wood and West Rigg Geotrail

Slitt Wood waterfall © NPAP/Elizabeth Pickett
This route reveals much about the area’s geology, which is strongly linked to this little valley’s industrial past. You will see where lead and iron ores were mined and processed and how the ores were transported out of the valley. Slitt Wood and West Rigg Opencut are legally protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Slitt Wood is designated for its variety of habitats including woodland, lime-rich grassland, fen, open water and the revegetated workings of Slitt and Middlehope Mines. Many different types of plants and birds can be spotted at different times of year, including metal tolerant plants known as metallophytes. West Rigg is designated for its geological importance. It provides an excellent illustration of the formation of iron ore and the opencast ironstone workings which expose the structure of a lead vein. Many of the industrial remains also have legal protection as scheduled monuments of national archaeological importance.
Location:
Starting from the lay-by in Westgate.
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Teesdale Reservoir Walk

Hury Reservoir © NPAP/Beck Baker
This interesting walk takes in 3 of Northumbrian Waters reservoirs in Teesdale, with the opportunity to view another 3 reservoirs from the walks highpoint. The walk follows the Pennine Way from Grassholme Reservoir over moorland to reach the rocky flat-topped summit of Goldsborough Hill. Afterward you will descend to follow the shores of Hury and Blackton Reservoirs where you may see wigeon, common sandpiper and tufted duck. You will also pass by Meres beck meadow and Hannah’s meadow, which during the summer will be filled with beautiful wildflowers.
Location:
Car parks at the Northern end of the Balderhead Reservoir dam wall.
Distance:
13 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Area:
Access:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

The Chimneys and Dryburn Moor (Allen Valleys): North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 4

Golden plover © NPAP
This walk epitomises much that is characteristic of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark. High peaty moorland, the sweet melancholy call of the golden plover and the towering remains of chimneys from the area’s lead mining past. All this is surrounded by sweeping views of the dales and settlements below and can be reached without a strenuous climb!
Location:
Starting from a small road side lay-by (NY807531)
Distance:
2 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

The National Trust - Allen Banks and Staward Gorge woodland walk

Bluebells at Allen Banks © NPAP/Shane Harris
Set on the steep valley sides of the river Allen, a tributary of the south Tyne, explore the woods and see what wildlife you can spot on this gentle riverside walk. It's the largest area of ancient woodland in Northumberland and has been here since at least medieval times. This long history has helped make it a fantastic home for flora, fauna and fungi.
Location:
Starting from Allen Banks car park.
Distance:
4 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, Steep sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Tindale Tarn: North Pennine Birdwalks Walk 2

Wigeon © NPAP
Located in the far north west of the AONB, Tindale Tarn is a good place to bird watch at any time of year in a highly scenic setting. A rich variety of breeding birds can be seen during spring and summer, including waders and black grouse. During the winter months, the Tarn attracts a range of wildfowl including wigeon and whooper swans. Heavily worked for zinc in the past, this area is also rich in industrial archaeology, including the remains of a quarry and smelter. The RSPB manages this site as part of their reserve at Geltsdale. An information centre is located at Stagsike Cottage which is accessible on foot. Disabled access by vehicle can be prearranged by phoning the reserve on 01697 746 717.
Location:
Small car park in Tindale (NY616594).
Distance:
9 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections
Access:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Tunstall Reservoir Walk

Backstone Bank wood beside Tunstall Reservoir © NPAP/Ruth Starr-Keddle
Tunstall reservoir is located within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has an excellent walk along its eastern edge through a semi-natural ancient broadleaved woodland, known as Blackstone Wood. The Tunstall reservoir walk is not only a very scenic and relaxing walk but once in the woodland offers the chance to view a variety of wildlife, including several species of waterfowl and butterflies.
Location:
At the picnic site on Leazes Lane on the western side of the reservoir.
Distance:
3 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Access:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Tyne Train Trails - Riding Mill to Corbridge

This 10km walk between the stations of Riding Mill and Corbridge is mainly along fields and woodland paths with some short sections on quiet country roads. There is a steep climb out of Riding Mill. The woodlands above Riding Mill and Corbridge are good places to see birds like Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Wood warblers and Woodpeckers. Note Corbridge town centre is over the bridge across the River Tyne. Corbridge has a full range of shops and services while Riding Mill has a small range of services.
Location:
Starting from Riding Mill station.
Distance:
10 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Up on the ridge: Moor House-Upper Teesdale NNR

Knock Pike and the Eden Valley © NPAP/Gearoid Murphy
This walk takes you right up along the summit ridge of the Pennines. You’ll be able to see evidence of the area’s mining and quarrying history, take in some stunning views over the high Pennines, and look across the Eden Valley to the Lake District fells. On the backbone of England, around the headwaters of the River Tees, 8,800 hectares of upland country forms the Moor House–Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve (NNR). The reserve encompasses an almost complete range of upland habitats typical of the North Pennines, from lower lying hay meadows, rough grazing and juniper woods to limestone grassland, blanket bogs and the summit heaths of the high fells. Nowhere else in Britain is there such a diversity of rare habitats in one location. The remote and dramatic landscape of the reserve can be enjoyed from the Pennine Way National Trail, the Public Rights of Way network and on Open Access land.
Location:
Start point at the end of the public road from Knock village, past Knock Christian Centre (NY686288).
Distance:
12 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, Steep sections
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

Upper Teesdale (Hangling Shaw): North Pennine Birdwalks Walk 12

Black grouse © NPAP
Upper Teesdale is one of the best places to see waders in the breeding season and black grouse throughout the year. The wide expanse of the upper dale offers stunning views of the meadows and allotments and the imposing fells of Cronkley Scar and Widdybank. The River Tees is always impressive and there’s a chance of seeing birds such as dipper, goosander and oystercatcher.
Location:
Starting from the car park at Hanging Shaw, Forest-in-Teesdale (NY867297).
Distance:
7 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Upper Teesdale Wildflower Walk

Upper Teesdale walk  © The North Pennines AONB Partnership
A beautifully capturing circular walk from the parking area at Hanging Shaw will introduce you to some of the special plants of Teesdale in the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark and the wildlife that depend on them. Along the way you will discover plants that dance and others that keep insects captive. You might even see rare bees and long-distance visitors from Africa. The spring and summer months are the best time to enjoy this walk. May and June are the time of peak activity for wading birds with June to August being the prime time for wild Flowers.
Location:
The Start and finish is the Hanging Shaw Parking area in Upper Teesdale (NY867297).
Distance:
6 km
Terrain:
Off road sections
Area:
Access:
Recreation opportunities:
Interests:

Waterfalls and wildlife walk: Moor House-Upper Teesdale NNR

High Force © DCC/Mike Ogden
This walk follows the banks of the River Tees from Low Force, through the juniper woods up to High Force waterfall. Here you can turn round and follow the same route back or continue further upriver and follow the lower slopes of Holwick Fell to return. On the backbone of England, around the headwaters of the River Tees, 8,800 hectares of upland country forms the Moor House–Upper Teesdale National nature Reserve (NNR). The reserve encompasses an almost complete range of upland habitats typical of the North Pennines, from lower lying hay meadows, rough grazing and juniper woods to limestone grassland, blanket bogs and the summit heaths of the high fells. Nowhere else in Britain is there such a diversity of rare habitats in one location. The remote and dramatic landscape of the reserve can be enjoyed from the Pennine Way National Trail, the Public Rights of Way network and on Open Access land.
Location:
Starting from Bowlees Visitor Centre car park (NY906282) in Upper Teesdale.
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Facilities nearby
Recreation opportunities:

Wellhope Moor (Nent Valley): North Pennine Birdwalks - Walk 9

Grey partridge © NPAP
This walk offers both stunning views across the Nent Valley and the opportunity to experience a mix of typical North Pennines upland habitats: hay meadow, pasture and allotment, heather moorland, blanket bog and upland stream. Passing a derelict mine and many old mine shafts, it also typifies the historic lead mining landscape of the area.
Location:
Starting from a small road side lay-by (NY769453).
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Access:
Recreation opportunities:

Widdybank Fell Nature Trail: Moor House-Upper Teesdale NNR

Cow Green Reservoir © NPAP/Beck Baker
This walk takes you over Widdybank Fell, along the track to Cow Green dam and Cauldron Snout waterfall. The walk follows a tarmac track with 1 large kissing gate and 3 steep sections. Suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs with strong pushers! However for the last 100m section, to view Cauldron Snout waterfall, the track is rocky and uneven. On the backbone of England, around the headwaters of the River Tees, 8,800 hectares of upland country forms the Moor House–Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve (NNR). The reserve encompasses an almost complete range of upland habitats typical of the North Pennines, from lower lying hay meadows, rough grazing and juniper woods to limestone grassland, blanket bogs and the summit heaths of the high fells. Nowhere else in Britain is there such a diversity of rare habitats in one location. The remote and dramatic landscape of the reserve can be enjoyed from the Pennine Way National Trail, the Public Rights of Way network and on Open Access land.
Location:
Starting from the Cow Green Reservoir car park (NY811309)
Distance:
5 km
Terrain:
Off road sections, On road sections, Steep sections
Area:
Recreation opportunities:

Wild North Discovery

Wild North Discovery © Wild North Discovery
Activities centred on discovery and exploration of the natural world. We offer bushcraft and survival skills (30 years experience and qualified to teach bushcrafts to groups through the Institute for Outdoor Learning), wild food foraging (as seen on TV with Robson Green), bird watching tours, wildlife & nature exploration activities including animal tracking, pond dipping and minibeast hunts for families, and greenwood crafts including pole lathe and willow basket weaving. Activities can be booked for a half or full day for two or more people either adult or family groups. Weekend and full week activities are also available.
Location:
Harehope Quarry Project - near Frosterley in Weardale. Activities are available at other sites in Weardale and Teesdale - see website for details
Terrain:
Boggy ground, Off road sections, Steep sections
Area: