Living Uplands

Natural History of Upper Teesdale

5 - Flora and vegetation

The flora of Upper Teesdale is probably more widely known than that of any other area in Britain, and yet perhaps only a few of the thousands who visit the Dale each year realise the extent to which the vegetationand flora contribute to the essence of its character.

In the valley, the meadows in the small walled fields extend, in the lower part, far up the south-facing slope, and, until 1957 to almost 570m at Grass Hill, then the highest farm in England. On the north face, the ascent of the meadows is abruptly cut off from the higher, browner fells by the Whin Sill cliff, marked by a line ofquarries.

Below High Force, the floor of the valley has a general wooded. Above High Force is a broader, barer valley which merges with the expansive fells leading up to the characteristic skyline of Great Dun Fell, Little Dun Fell and Cross Fell.

For generations of British naturalists, Upper Teesdale has been hallowed ground, and many still come each year to ‘pay their respects’ to the relics of an earlier, more widespread flora. For those on more serious business, the unique plant communities are of major scientific importance and provide abundant opportunities for ecological and taxonomic research.

Download Chapter in PDF