The Bowes Museum > Visit > Visitor Information > Teesdale & the Surrounding Area

Teesdale & the Surrounding Area


Home to magnificent castles, heritage sites, beautiful gardens and the unmissable High Force waterfall, Teesdale is one of the picturesque Durham Dales situated in the North Pennines.

Its historic market town of Barnard Castle, with its elegant Georgian and Victorian architecture, is home to a medieval castle, riverside walks, and a good selection of independent shops and antiques outlets, together with a well-supported Farmers’ Market on the first Saturday of every month, giving customers the opportunity to buy good quality local produce.

Middleton in Teesdale is the other market town within Teesdale, situated higher up the River Tees.  It was once the historic centre of Teesdale's former lead mining industry and today boasts a wide range of quaint shops, tea rooms and independent businesses.

As well as its market towns, you can explore picturesque villages, drive along quiet roads, walk and cycle for miles through magnificent scenery,
 sail or fish on Teesdale's reservoirs and rivers.  Cycling and walking are two of the most popular outdoor pursuits in the area with excellent long and short-distanced waymarked walks in woodland, by the river, through villages and across the Pennines.  The Teesdale Way, the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast all pass through the dale's stunning scenery.  For off-road cycle trails, Hamsterley Forest is a great adventure for all ages, and its waterfalls, known as High Force and Low Force, wooded valleys, wide-open grouse moors and hay meadows provide the perfect surroundings for enjoying the dale's peaceful tranquility.

Teesdale describes the area that surrounds the upper reaches of the River Tees, from its source in the hills to just west of the railway town of Darlington, Durham where the river broadens out into the Tees Valley.  It is often described as the northernmost of the Yorkshire Dales, and the River Tees is often used to mark the border between Yorkshire and Durham.

In his
Pennine Way Companion, Alfred Wainwright said:

"...the Tees is an excellent companion: above Middleton it is a beautiful river, in places sliding smoothly in a wide bed, in places falling and cascading in rocky channels, and it has attracted to it a wealth of lovely trees, a host of darting birds and a fragrant wild flower garden along its banks.  On a sunny June day, the five miles to High Force are a joy to the naturalist, the geologist and the botanist;  and to the walker who has trampled the bleak moors from Edale they are perfect delight: this is the place to linger, to rest awile in sylvan sweetness, and dream.....it is the river, the Tees, with its bordering carpet of flowers, that enchants the eye and uplifts the heart....and yet makes a man sad because, having found this Arcadia, he must leave it and may never return."  

It is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and has some fine 
accommodation establishments to broaden its appeal to visitors. 

Information about closing


19 March 2020

Unfortunately, due to the continuing development of the Coronavirus situation, The Bowes Museum is now closed until further notice. The health and wellbeing of both our customers and our staff is our priority.

Where events can be rescheduled we will endeavour to do so but please be assured that all ticket holders for cancelled events have options on refunds and can contact info@thebowesmuseum.org.uk, however by not requesting a refund you would be making an exceptionally generous and much appreciated charitable donation to The Bowes Museum during these unprecedented times.

Whilst the Museum is closed, we will be working on other ways of sharing our story and collection via our digital platforms. Stay posted for online videos, conversations and more.

We thank you for your patience and your continued support for The Bowes Museum during this unpredictable time. We hope to come back to you with a reopening date shortly, for now, please stay safe and help protect the vulnerable.

25 March 2020

It is with great sadness that The Bowes Museum has taken the decision to temporarily close all gates to the grounds following a spate of vandalism around the parkland.

Since the Museum closed on Wednesday 18 March the benches in the story area have been damaged, the totem pole pulled over and broken, there have been attempts to pull out outdoor trail markers and branches have been pulled down and plants uprooted.

The Museum is working with the police to find the perpetrators of these actions. PC Michael Banks of Durham Constabulary said "This is a shameful piece of criminal damage within the grounds of a historical location in Barnard Castle anyone with information please contact Durham Constabulary quoting reference number DHM23032020-0189"

The Director of The Bowes Museum, Adrian Jenkins, said: "It is a shame that the actions of a few will have an impact on many but this closure also ties in with the latest government advice to stay at home to help restrict the spread of coronavirus and the Museum is following in the footsteps of other organisations who have closed gated parks and gardens.

There are tips from our education officer on the Museum's social media platforms for keeping the kids, and yourselves, entertained while in isolation and we'll be updating the website regularly with new and exciting information about the collection.

In the meantime, please keep safe and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum and grounds when it reopens."

You can keep up to date with developments here or on our Facebook and Twitter.

We’ll be back…