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Holidays in North Pennines

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and one of the most unspoilt places in England

UK | UK | North Pennines
High Force waterfall

The second-largest in England, the North Pennines is a certified Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a stunning wilderness perfect for walks and wildlife spotting.

Having been recognised as Britain’s first UNESCO European and Global Geopark, there’s plenty of breathtaking landscapes just waiting to have their photo taken. Here you can see rolling heather moorland, ancient hay meadows, tumbling waterfalls and so much more. It’s just as spectacular at night, as some of the darkest skies in England can be found here due to the lack of light pollution. There are 16 official Dark Sky Discovery Sites in the North Pennines, and during the winter months, the Orion constellation can be seen from almost anywhere within the AONB.

Views over the North Pennines

Its variety of landscapes and large network of footpaths make the North Pennines perfect for a walking holiday. As well as several shorter and circular walks covering fells, valleys and open moorland, the northern half of the Pennine Way also meanders through the North Pennines. In total the Pennine Way is 267 miles long, running all the way to Kirk Yetholm just over the Scottish border to the north, and to Edale in the Peak District to the south, making it the ideal challenge for long distance walkers.

The vast size of the North Pennines as well as the diversity of its habitats means that the area is also a haven for wildlife. An astonishing 80% of the UK’s black grouse population live on the North Pennines moorland, while other birds you can spot here include curlews, merlins, red grouse, peregrines and short-eared owls. The wetter areas of the moorlands are also home to several varieties of amphibians, while otters live in many of the streams and reservoirs. One of the best places to spot wildlife is at Derwent Reservoir, where you can also fish, picnic and enjoy walks along the water’s shore.

As well as being a place steeped in natural beauty, the North Pennines is home to several pretty towns and villages. Among the most picturesque is Allendale, a stone-built village which has twice won the Village of the Year award. It’s most famous for its Tar Bar’l event held every New Year’s Eve, where men parade through the streets carrying barrels filled with blazing tar on their heads. Meanwhile, the village of Alston has featured in TV productions of Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist, and was described by writer W H Auden as his ‘great good place’.

“A stunning wilderness perfect for walks and wildlife spotting…”

Historical sites can also be found throughout the North Pennines, including the Epiacum Roman Fort, which is one of the best preserved of its kind in England. Muggleswick Grange is another spectacular ruin; the remnants of monastic Granges built for the Prior of Durham in the thirteenth century.

Take a look at our full collection of North Pennines cottages for even more holiday inspiration and find the perfect place to stay for your County Durham holiday.

While you’re there

Pennine Way

Whether you decide to walk just a section or try the whole thing, there’s plenty to be seen on this 267-mile-long footpath

Derwent Reservoir

Perfect for waterside walks, picnics and wildlife watching with scenic views


A pretty stone-built village in the heart of a valley, home to the famous Tar Bar’l event

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