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Beneath the surface

10th Jun 2019

Our minds are conditioned by what we see of the landscape around us. Beneath the surface is geology that conditions the world above.

At the end of June 2019 the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) and The North Pennines UNESCO Global Geopark (NPUGG) will meet at Nenthead, near the watershed between the Tyne and Wear rivers, to take a look at the fascinating underworld of the "Hypogenic Caves of the North Pennines UNESCO Global Geopark".

There are several fine cave systems in the North Pennines but the region is most notable for hosting the longest and most complex maze caves in Britain. In contrast to the majority of British caves, which are formed by descending waters (epigenic), the maze caves are of hypogenic origin formed by rising waters.

One of these is the Fairy Holes of Upper Weardale, and the land-owner will be hosting that part of the meeting of the BCRA and NPUGG where they take an on-site look at the geology.

The existence of these caves is known only because they were intersected by the region's lead miners years ago. There is no 'natural entrance' from the surface.

The meeting at Nenthead will be an opportunity for cavers, cave scientists, geologists, mine history specialists, quaternary scientists and local residents to gather and share knowledge and enthusiasm for this special but relatively little-visited area.

The BCRA will be capturing photos and perhaps some video when they explore the local caves as part of the weekend. We Look forward to seeing some of the unseen world of Weardale.

*Our thanks to John Dale for the photography.