In 2003 the North Pennines National Landscape became the first area in Britain to be awarded the UNESCO-endorsed status of European Geopark. Geoparks are places with outstanding geology where special effort is made to make the most of Earth heritage through interpretation, education, conservation and nature-based tourism. Specimens of Weardale crystals can be found in natural history museum in all parts of the world. The Geopark initiative became a full programme of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 2015. The North Pennines is one of a growing network of UNESCO Global Geoparks all over the world and sits alongside UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves.

In recognition of its world class Earth heritage and efforts to make the most of this for tourism and education, it is also designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark. 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.

Rocks are the building blocks of the wonderful North Pennine landscape. The area’s fells and dales, and the rocks, minerals and fossils of which they are made, tell a fascinating story – one which stretches back hundreds of millions of years. The geological story of the North Pennines tells a story of deep oceans and violent volcanoes, colliding continents and molten rock, tropical seas and lush rainforests, hot water and minerals, desert dunes and vast ice sheets.

Over the past 500 million years the North Pennines has travelled over the surface of the globe and been shaped by many environments and processes. Volcanoes, tropical seas, rainforests, molten rock, deserts and ice sheets have all helped create today’s landscape. By exploring the fells and dales, you’ll discover the North Pennines’ remarkable journey through time, and a rich industrial heritage linked to the area’s rocks and minerals.

Exploring our Geological Heritage

Locally fine collections of Weardale minerals can be viewed at Killhope North of England Lead Mining Museum, where you can also take an underground mine tour, and at the Weardale Museum, Ireshopeburn.

Web links with more information:

North Pennines National Landscape: Geology and Landscape

Killhope Museum
01388 537505

Weardale Museum
01388 517433

Nenthead Mines