The Yorkshire Dales get the visitors but overlooked Upper Teesdale’s towns and valleys – they’re well worth it. Just don’t mention Barnard Castle …

When I tell people that I’m off to have a long weekend in Teesdale – which is more often than you might think – there inevitably follows a moment of confusion. They always think I mean Teeside, and even as they smile politely, I can see them struggling to imagine why on earth I might want to spend my free time down among all the chemical plants. But, no. Lovely as Middlesbrough is at this or any other time of year, the only thing Teeside and Teesdale have in common is the river from which they both derive their name.

Upper Teesdale is a well-kept secret, even if its seclusion was briefly threatened last year when Dominic Cummings made his outlandish bid for freedom in Barnard Castle, its biggest town; thanks to the fact that it’s not in a national park – though most of it is in the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty – it attracts fewer visitors than the Yorkshire Dales to the south, or Northumberland to the north. But I’ve always known about it. My Sunderland grandparents used to take their holidays in Middleton-in-Teesdale and, somehow, I’ve got into the habit of doing the same. In middle age, in fact, it is one of my top three places on earth. In our hall is an old railway poster, bought at auction for more money than was strictly sensible. TEESDALE BY LNER, it says, next to a painting of some woods by a bridge over water. If the house were on fire, this is one of the things I’d grab on my way out.

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Source: Gaurdian

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