2013-12-20   facebook twitter rss

Busy Year for North Pennines Partnership

It has been a busy year for the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership but a bracing walk to the top of one of the area’s most impressive vantage points will be a fitting end to the past twelve months.

Throughout 2013 the Partnership has held 25 events to celebrate 25 years since the North Pennines was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as ten years since it was officially named as a European Geopark.

Bolts Law

Bolts Law

Since April, events have been taking place throughout County Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria to mark the momentous anniversary, from bat and bird watching through to hay meadow celebrations and archaeology conferences.

The year also saw a staggering 7,500 new wildlife records gathered by the Partnership’s WildWatch project and its team of ever-expanding volunteers, the launch of 13 North Pennines official Dark Sky Discovery Sites, an archaeological dig in Frosterley that unearthed an 8th century sandstone cross and the first ever winner of The Pendlebury Award, which went to Dr Margaret Bradhaw for her outstanding contribution to preserving the landscape and the species within it.

This year has also been one of the busiest for the Partnership’s Peatland Programme which has begun to restore 130 hectares of bare peat accomplished by the installation of over 5 kms of fencing, the flying of 200 tonnes of heather brash, the spreading the brash and the re-profiling of over 1.5 km of gullies.

One of the biggest milestones of the Partnership’s year was the opening of Bowlees Visitor Centre in Upper Teesdale.

Being passionate about conserving and enhancing the North Pennines, the team felt the centre should continue to provide people a perfect base for exploring the area, which is one of the few remaining unspoilt landscapes in the UK.

Since reopening in June the centre has gone from strength-to-strength with array of events to suit everyone. Cafe1618@Bowlees has received rave reviews – especially for its renowned Teesdale Lead Miners’ Pasty – and comments left in the visitors’ book have proved there is a need for Bowlees Visitor Centre and the information provided by its staff.

Director of the AONB Partnership, Chris Woodley-Stewart, said:
“There’s been a lot of hard work gone in to transforming this beautiful old Methodist chapel into a modern visitor centre, while ensuring we retain those features that make the place so incredibly special.

“The team at the Partnership believed in the centre, but of course we are slightly biased. But when you read the comments in the visitors’ book, from people of all ages from all over the world, it really confirms we were right to breathe new life back into Bowlees Visitor Centre.”

Thousands of visitors have taken advantage of the centre, from information and advice through to cakes and bat walks. And partnerships have been struck up with the RSPB at Saltholme and Addisons Estate Agents which have both invested in a new bird box scheme due to launch next year in a bid to get more children out and about and interested in wildlife.

So after a year of celebrations the final event of the 25 – Blow Away the Cobwebs - will take place on December 28th.

Peter Samsom, the Deputy Director of the North Pennine AONB Partnership, will be leading the post-Christmas four-and-a-half-mile walk from Rookhope up to the top of Bolts Law, which provides fantastic views across Durham, Northumberland and as far as Teesside.

Mr Samsom said: “It’s been a busy year for us. As well as taking all of our projects on to new levels we’ve also taken on several new members of staff. We’ve been celebrating the past 25 years and this walk gives us a chance to take a deep breath and look towards the future. That’s if the winter winds don’t take it away of course.”

North Pennines

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