• Rob Lawson

What is the North Pennines AONB?

If you've visited Alston or heard anything about the Alston Moor area, you've probably comes across the North Pennines AONB. You may also know that AONB stands for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but do you actually know what it means?

north pennines aonb South Tyne Salvin House Alston

Put simply, an AONB is an area of countryside in England or Wales that has been designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value. AONBs are protected in much the same way as a National Park, but they to not have a park authority with its own planning powers.


The North Pennines AONB was designated in 1988 for its moorland scenery, the product of centuries of farming and lead-mining. At almost 770 square miles, 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 towns villages, including Alston, some of which contain the legacies of a mining and industrial past. The area has was extensively mined for minerals such as barytes, coal, fluorspar, iron, lead, witherite and zinc.

alston moor salvin house north pennines aonb

The AONB, which is also a UNESCO Global Geopark, is notable for rare flora and fauna, including wild alpine plants not found elsewhere in Britain. It is home to red squirrels and numerous birds of prey.


The impressive landscape of the North Pennines – from High Force waterfall on the River Tees to the sweeping valley of High Cup Gill above Dufton – is the product of millions of years of geological processes.

high force waterfall north pennines aonb alston

The North Pennines is also home to England's only named wind, the Helm Wind. It has caught out many walkers traversing the plateaux around Cross Fell, the Eden Valley fellside, and the valleys between Alston and Dufton.


So, if stunning views and perfect English countryside are your thing, maybe you should pay a visit to Salvin House Alston and see the North Pennines AONB for yourself.



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