Lying between the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National park, the Durham dales form part of the North Pennines, one of England’s largest areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Upper Teesdale supports some of Britain’s rarest plant communities, now protected as a National Nature Reserve. At High Force, the River Tees thunders 70 feet over the largest waterfall in England.
Close by, the Pennine Way continues on its 270 mile route past some of the country’s most beautiful stretches of river scenery. To the north is Weardale where quiet moorland roads open up panoramic Pennine views. The road from Killhope to Nenthead in Cumbria is the highest classified road in England, rising to over 2,000 feet. In the 19th century the North Pennines were at the heart of the lead mining industry. The industry has long since disappeared but Killhope Lead Mining Centre, with its giant 34 ft waterwheel, remains a striking memorial.
Throughout the Durham Dales (which start less than 10 miles to the west of Spennymoor) there is plenty of scope for walking and other outdoor activities which can all be enjoyed amid the impressive North Pennines scenery. The area is surprisingly unspoilt and uncrowded, even at peak holiday times.
Location: Access to Teesdale is south west via the A688 in the direction of Barnard Castle. For access to Weardale, take the A689 from Bishop Auckland in the direction of Stanhope.