The North Pennines is a beautiful upland area in the north of England. It is a place of wild moors, remote fells, green dales and scattered settlements. Stretching across 2,000km2 of the counties of Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria, it is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Much of this landscape is made up of layers of fossil-rich limestone, shale and sandstone which formed between 350 and 300 million years ago when the North Pennines lay near the equator. Another special feature is the Whin Sill – the original sill of geological science. Once molten rock underground, it now stands out as dramatic dolerite or ‘whinstone’ cliffs and waterfalls.
The North Pennines is world-famous for its mineral veins which cut through the hills. Centuries of mining for lead ore and other minerals have left a legacy of settlements, shafts and spoil heaps, and a ‘miner-farmer’ landscape.
At the western edge of the North Pennines the landscape is very different. Slates and volcanic rocks, up to 480 million years old, are exposed in conical hills or ‘pikes’ which lie next to red sandstones which formed in deserts around 250 million years ago.
Glacial landforms and deposits from the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago also have a big impact on the landscape. Today the North Pennines is characterised by flat-topped hills, blanket peat bogs, rare flora and fauna and upland farming.
City / Region
Number of Geosites
Enjoy the most beautiful landscapes and the most emblematic geosites in these unique and special territories.
The Geosites are locals of geological interest that represent the existing geodiversity and have a high educational, tourist and/or scientific level.
Allen Smelt Mill
Remains of a lead smelting mill, reclaimed and interpreted by the local community and the North Pennines AONB
The geodiversity is present in the landscapes, that are the cradle for all the existing biodiversity in these territories.
Sweeping landscapes and rocky crags influenced by the presence of the Whin Sill and shaped by
Uses and Customs
Geoparks are territories with a strong cultural and ethnological identity, which are represented by their customs and traditions. These customs and traditions have gained relevance throughout the centuries and became inseparable from the present and history of this regions and its people.
The experiences that geoparks provide, trigger authentic experiences and unforgettable emotions.
South Tynedale Railway
Active steam railway followng the former route of British Rail’s Haltwhistle to Alston branch
During your visit, geoparks have restaurants and accommodation available to complement and enrich your experience.
Museums / Interpretative Centre
Museums gather collections that allow us to better understand our existence and everything related to it. They are privileged spaces that tell us about the history of the Earth and life.
Lanzarote and Chinijo Islands UNESCO Global Geopark
Lanzarote is pure geology, underwater and moon-like landscapes, pristine water, thirsty land, palm-tree oasis, harmony between men and nature The
Basque Coast UNESCO Global Geopark
The Basque Coast Geopark is a small area located in the north os Spain, wedged in between the Bay of Biscay and the Basque mountains and comprising
Arouca UNESCO Global Geopark
What if suddenly you were presented with a live book telling the history of the Earth represented on the rocky landscape, the rivers running in a