Living Uplands

Natural History of Upper Teesdale


My interest in Upper Teesdale stems from my late father who, through his stewardship of Raby Estates, had a great affection for the landscape and rugged unspoilt qualities of the area, and in particular for the farming community of the upper Dale.

I was brought up east of Barnard Castle, in a countryside of arable crops on rich soil and moderate rainfall. On sunny summers’ dayswe would call up a hill farmer to find out what the weather was doing ‘up the Dale’. More often than not an extra jumper and raincoat were required. If good, there was nowhere better, and we would set off for an afternoon of paddling in the becks, picnics and walks. Although less than thirty minutes’ drive from home it felt like a different world.

As a child you tend to take everything for granted and so it was with Upper Teesdale. The prolific bird life, the wildflowers, the rock formations and drama of the River Tees itself seemed normal. It was only after visiting other upland areas that there was therealisation that Upper Teesdale was different, even unique. Where else could one find the mix of the black grouse leks, the cries of curlews and peewits, the spring gentians, the hay meadows rich in wildflowers, and the small neat white-washed farms dotted over the landscape?

We are blessed to have an area such as Upper Teesdale on our doorstep, and in particular its botanical interest that is of such national and international significance. We are also fortunate to have the benefit of the specialist and authoritative knowledge, in some cases gained over a lifetime in the area, that the contributors to this resource bring to the Natural History of Upper Teesdale.

Durham Wildlife Trust have print copies of the book available at their Wildlife Reserves. This online resource will bring Upper Teesdale to a far wider public. In these times of Covid restrictions online resource is all the more important to inform and satisfy the interest of the many looking forward to being in the countryside after a period of ‘lockdown’.

It will be an invaluable resource to both layman and specialist to further their understanding of this remarkable area.

The companion resource on Upper Weardale will be a marvelous addition for all who want to learn more about our amazing Durham Uplands. It is only by understanding what we have that the right decisions can be made in the care and future management of uniqueand complex environments.

Lord Barnard DL