Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wild Open Space to Rival Best in Land

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wild Open Space to Rival Best in Land

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

Environment Editor Tony Henderson winds up his tour of the North Pennines with a look at the wider and wilder picture.

When it comes to a natural beauty contest, the North Pennines has some pretty tough competition.

It lies between the national parks of Northumberland, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

But the North Pennines can more than hold its own. At almost 2,000 square kilometres, it is the second biggest of the country's 41 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is larger than all but two of the family of national parks.

A third of the North Pennines AONB is made up of sites of special scientific interest. There are two national nature reserves, including Britain's biggest at Moor House-Upper Teesdale and five European Special Areas of Conservation.

Only 20pc of the landscape has been significantly agriculturally improved and a mere 0.6pc is considered as built up.

It could be argued that the North-East as a whole has greater stake in the North Pennines than any other part of the region.

The three great rivers which characterise the region, the Tyne, Wear and Tees, all rise in the North Pennines.

The AONB straddles Northumberland, County Durham and Cumbria and lies within the boundaries of Carlisle, Eden, Derwentside, Teesdale, Tynedale and Wear Valley. That's spreading it around.

It also happens to be one of the most remote and unspoilt places left in England, and this increasingly rare commodity is central to its appeal.

After all, there are few spots in England where you can walk all day and not cross a road.

In 1842, investigating conditions in the lead mines, W R Mitchell was giving evidence to the Royal Commission into Children's Employment.

He wrote of the North Pennines: "From it flows the Tyne, the Wear and the Tees and many branches of these rivers. …

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