North Pennines Cycling
  Cycling Rides in the North Pennines

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Upper & Lower Teesdale

     Winter Teesdale   
 Upper Teesdale in summer and winter

Upper Teesdale is an area of amazing scenery dominated by purple heather clad moorlands and green valleys and a unique landscape shaped by dark igneous rocks that have created magnificent waterfalls at Low and High Force and cascades at Cauldron Snout. Renowned as the most northerly of the Yorkshire Dales upper Teesdale lies within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Europe's first geopark.

Another of the North Pennines' oddities is that it is home to England's only named wind, the Helm Wind It has caught out many cyclists traversing the climb over Harthope Fell.

Wildlife: The landscape in Upper Teesdale has been sculptured by glaciers from the last Ice Age that ended 15,000 years ago. Since that time several climatic changes have influenced the natural vegetation and wildlife in the area.

           black grouse      
The rare Blue Gentian and Black Grouse
Some of the unique plants in the area are relics of the last Ice Age, one of these the Blue Gentian is found solely in upper Teesdale.

Wolves, bears, wildcats, wild boar and wild cattle no longer wander these hills but the area is still home to roe and red deer and numerous other wildlife as well as wide range of birdlife including the rare black grouse or Moorcock.

History: Upper Teesdale has been home through the ages to Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans each group having left their mark on the landscape.

Upper Teesdale

Couldron Snout     Kirk Carrion
Cauldron Snout Upper Teesdale & Kirk Carrion
Moor House - Upper Teesdale is one of England’s largest National Nature Reserves. It is particularly well known for the plants that originally colonised the high Pennines after the last ice age, and have survived here ever since. You can also see rare rock formations such as outcropping sugar limestone and the Great Whin Sill.

The reserve encompasses an almost complete range of upland habitats typical of the North Pennines, from lower lying hay meadows, rough grazing and juniper wood to limestone grassland, blanket bogs and summit heaths of the high fells. Nowhere else in Britain is there such a diversity of rare habitats in one location.

Kirk Carrion - Dominating the Lunedale ridge, the pine-covered tumulus of Kirk Carrion is one of the region's major Bronze Age burial sites. Thought to have been constructed sometime around 1400 BC, this elaborate chieftain's tomb was excavated in Victorian times.

          Low Force          Low Force     
High Force & Low Force
From its rise as a trickle, high on the heather covered fells at the top of the North Pennines, to the top of the Whin Sill rock at Forest -in-Teesdale, the River Tees steadily grows and gathers pace, then it suddenly and spectacularly drops 21 metres into the plunge pool below at High Force.

          Robin c John Graham
Bowlees Wildlife Visitors Centre
Open every day between 10.30am and 5pm from Easter to the end of September, Bowlees is an ideal centre to explore Upper Teesdale, with footpath links to High Force, Low Force, Newbiggin and the Pennine Way.

The centre that is part of the Durham Wildlife Trust provides a wealth of information on the geology, wildlife and people of Upper Teesdale, together with maps, books and refreshments for sale.

Barnard Castle & Lower Teesdale

Barnard Castle Ruins                
Barnard Castle Ruins & Blagraves House

The castle was founded by the Normans shortly after the conquest, but enjoyed its heyday under Bernard de Balliol during the latter half of the 12th century. The castle passed into the hands of the Balliol family (of which the Scottish king, John Balliol,  was the most important member), and then into the possession of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, King Richard III who inherited it through his wife, Anne Neville, but it fell into ruins in the century after his death. The remains are now in the care of English Heritage.

Walter Scott frequently visited his friend John Sawrey Morritt at Rokeby Hall and was fond of exploring Teesdale. He begins his epic poem Rokeby (1813) with a man standing on guard on the round tower of the Barnard Castle fortress. Charles Dickens and his illustrator Hablot Browne (Phiz) stayed at the King's Head in Barnard Castle while researching his novel Nicholas Nickleby in the winter of 1837-38. He is said to have entered William Humphrey's clock-maker's shop, then opposite the hotel, and enquired who had made a certain remarkable clock. William replied that his boy Humphrey had done it. This seems to have prompted Dickens to choose the title "Master Humphrey's Clock" for his new weekly, in which The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge appeared.

The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle         
Bowes Museum & Silver Swan

The Bowes Museum housed in a chateau-like building, was founded by John Bowes and his wife and is of national status. It contains an El Greco, paintings by Goya, Cannaleto , Boucher, Fragonard and a collection of decorative art. A great attraction is the 18th century silver swan automation, which periodically preens itself, looks round and appears to catch and swallow a fish.

John Bowes lived at nearby Streatlam Castle (now demolished). His Streatlam stud never had more than ten breeding mares at one time, but produced no fewer than four Derby winners in twenty years. The last of these, "West Australian", was the first racehorse to win the Triple Crown (1853).

Raby Castle          Raby Interior
Raby Castle Staindrop

Built for the mighty dynasty of the Nevills, this great fortress stands proud and defiant, its history rolling back almost a thousand years. King Cnut (also known as Canute II the Great) owned the Estate, then known as 'Rabi' (derived from 'Ra', Danish for a boundary, and 'Bi', a settlement or dwelling) in the early 11th Century. The Viking King and self appointed 'Emperor of the North' may well have built a manor house here, but it was the Nevills who built the 14th century castle which still stands today.

Home to Lord Barnard's family since 1626, Raby is one of finest medieval Castle's in England. Built by the mighty Nevill family in the 14th Century, Raby remained in the Nevill family until 1569 when after the failure of the Rising of the North, the Castle and it's lands were forfeited to the Crown. In 1626, Sir Henry Vane the Elder purchased Raby and the Castle has remained in the Vane family ever since.

Red Deer          Fallow Deer
Red Deer & Fallow Deer at Raby

The 200 acre (80ha) deer park surrounding Raby Castle has Red deer, the largest British wild land mammal, and the smaller Fallow deer - both herds containing the descendants of deer preserved in this area since Norman times.



Local Information                
Chatterbox Cafe

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Cycling cafe, an essential stop in Weardale

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June 9th 2018

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