© North Pennines AONB Partnership

In June 2003, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), one of the most beautiful, remote and unspoilt places in England, became Great Britain's first European Geopark. The rocks and landscapes of the North Pennines have amazing stories to tell, of moving continents and tropical seas, of molten rock and ice sheets and of minerals and the men that mined them.

Conservation, Education & Tourism

This upland area, in the north of England, is a place of wild moors, remote hills, broad green valleys and scattered stone-built settlements. Stretching across large parts of the counties of Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria, it is both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a member of the European Geoparks Network.

The character of this unique landscape has its foundation in the underlying rocks. Layers of limestone, shale and sandstone form terraced hillsides, and have provided stone for the area’s distinctive dry stone walls and villages. The famous Whin Sill forms dramatic cliffs and spectacular waterfalls. Cutting through the rocks are veins of lead ore and other minerals. Centuries of mining have left a rich heritage of ruins and spoil heaps, now colonised by unusual plants.

During the last glaciation a thick ice sheet smoothed the landscape, creating glacial landforms and deposits. A thick blanket of peat, which formed on the uplands after the ice melted, is a special habitat and represents England’s most important peatland resource.

In the North Pennines we are using our rich geological heritage to tell the story of the landscape and the way in which the rocks have influenced natural habitats and human settlement and activity over thousands of years. The AONB Partnership works with local organisations from across the North Pennines to develop festivals, events, education projects and resources, walking and cycling trails and much more!

The Global Geoparks Network is supported by UNESCO at the request of Member States

Back to top