Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Post 458 - Nature-filled, Picturesque North Pennines AONB

If you look closely there are lots of Black Grouse
in the green field
Hey everyone, post 458 today and a little write up of a great day I had on Saturday. It was the first day of the holidays so our family decided it would be nice to have a bit of a trip out. It only takes us about an hour to get there but it's a fabulous journey.

Here's one up close
It's always a great drive to Teesdale, we have a route that is along lots of lovely country roads where we pass lots of farmland and woods. As we wind our way up into upper Teesdale you start to get into the moors, you're so high up that you can see over all the valley and see the river meandering along the valley floor between the hills, sometimes snow covered, and other times just lush green mats draped over the hilly landscape. It's a lovely dramatic landscape.

We decided to head up past where we normally start our day and go to a site that we were told about. In one of those lovely but spooky co-incidences on that Friday, Chris the Director the North Pennines AONB followed me on twitter (@NorthPennChief). He gave us a few ideas of things to look out for, thanks Chris.

Low Force - without canoes!
On the way up to Bowlees, we saw huge flocks of waders, mostly lapwings and golden plover, but we also saw a very large amount of crows. We passed thorough Bowlees and headed further up the dale and we went for our lunch. We went to a place called Langdon Beck, which I thought was quite authentic, as it was a lovely place, friendly people and log fires in each room, so going into this place out of the cold and wind was a really nice feeling.

Amazing lichens
A great thing we didn't expect to see was a fabulous geology room, where there was a load of rocks and minerals which were fascinating to look at. They had examples of crystals, minerals and ores that you can find in the North Pennines. There were lots of types of Flurospar, some haematite and lots more besides. The whole area is designated a European Geopark. I think I'll be back on the look out for some of the lovely crystals I saw!

After we left there, we decided to go to a spot Chris @NorthPennChief  told us about, and look for some Black Grouse, which we succeeded in very quickly! After about 2 minutes of heading towards Bowlees, I looked at a field and immediately saw 32 of them! I'm hoping to see them when they lek so it's nice to find good sites for them.
Moss covered trees

After this we headed back and had a really nice walk around Bowlees and down by the Tees. Around the visitor centre were usual garden birds such as Chaffinches, Coal tits, etc, but a first for the year was a nice group of Siskins chattering high up in a tree. The woods around Bowlees are lovely. It's higher up than we are at home so there's not much green or flowers around yet but with the lovely clean fresh air there are huge amounts of lichen and moss!

And more lichen!
Carrying on our walk we went across a suspension bridge held about 40ft over a river, which was a little scary. We ended at Low Force, which was an amazing sight as ever, but didn`t go quite to plan from a nature hunting point of view because there was a group of people cliff jumping into it! ;) Very brave  - and not something I`ll be trying anytime soon!

And a Dipper!
One of the reasons we went, was to look for Dippers, but we didn't see any due to the cliff jumpers and loads of people in canoes. But, on the way back to the car, while on the bridge between the visitor centre and the car park, (exactly where we saw the Crossbills last year!) we looked down... and Mum saw one! We didn't get many pictures though, but we were to fascinated by this little fella! Stay tuned for a blog post on this.

Spotting a Peregrine and a Buzzard on the way home, it was a lovely day, as it always is when we go up to Teesdale, but the Dipper was definitely the icing on the cake!

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. I love that shot of Low Force, beautiful scenery! Lovely photos as always here Zach. I love dippers too, I can definitely see why that would have been the icing on the cake for you! - Tasha