The North Pennines was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1988 for its moorland scenery, the product of centuries of farming and lead-mining. At almost 2,000 square kilometres (770 sq mi) it is the second largest of the 49 AONBs in the United Kingdom.
The landscape of the North Pennines AONB is one of open heather moors between deep dales, upland rivers, hay meadows and stone-built villages, some of which contain the legacies of a mining and industrial past. The area shares a boundary with the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the south and extends as far as the Tyne Valley, just south of Hadrian's Wall in the north.
One of the many walking routes in the North Pennines is Isaac's Tea Trail, a circular route of 58 kilometres (36 mi) around the area, running from Ninebanks via Allendale, Nenthead and Alston. In addition to this, a large section of the Pennine Way falls in the AONB, including one of the most celebrated stretches through Teesdale, a lush valley with dramatic river scenery including the twin attractions of High Force and Cauldron Snout.
The AONB is notable for rare flora and fauna, including wild alpine plants not found elsewhere in Britain. It is also home to red squirrels and diverse birds of prey. The impressive landscape of the North Pennines, from High Force on the River Tees to the sweeping valley of High Cup Gill above Dufton, are the product of millions of years of geological processes. The worldwide significance of the geology found in the area was recognised in 2003 when the AONB became Britain's first European Geopark.
Photograph is a view from the Pennine Way, near Marsden.