Bowlees Visitor Centre and Gibson’s Cave, Teesdale

Within the beautiful valley of Teesdale, Durham Dales, there is one place that is always my first stop here, Bowlees Visitor Centre. This is the place you will want to start all of your discovery of Teesdale and the natural beauty around. It is definitely perfectly placed! This is so so so much more than a Visitor Centre.

high-force-low-force Bowlees Visitor Centre and Gibson's Cave, Teesdale

Nestled within woodland, with a spacious car park, there are so many options to discover nature from this point too. You may recall my walks by Low and High Force or the stargazing by the waterfalls. Well this is the centre of all that for a start, within a few minutes walk of Bowlees Visitor Centre you can be beside Low Force and walking to High Force.

There is another waterfall gem that you can do in the other direction from the Visitor Centre car park, Summerhill Force and Gibson’s Cave. It is literally only about half a mile walk so perfect for the whole family.

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The waterfall is called Summerhill Force, but because of the recess behind the waterfall it is more affectionately known as Gibson’s Cave.

Why so? Local legend has it that in the 16th Century there was an outlaw named William Gibson on the run from the Constables at Barnard Castle. It is said that he hid here in the cave like recess of the waterfall. Apparently he was locally a very liked man and people used to bring him clothes and food as he lived there, hidden behind the water.

bowlees-and-gibsons-cave-3 Bowlees Visitor Centre and Gibson's Cave, Teesdale

Walking too and from the Visitor Centre to the caves I got a sense of all the activities that are aimed at youngsters and to inspire them in the nature around them. Bird trails, bug hotels (huge), an outdoor classroom for learning and lots more.

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Ok, before heading back out on the trails I wanted some sustenance, a brew and a cake was in order. Bowlees Visitor Centre might be a wealth of information and maps for the valley, and more than normally so I can tell you, but they have great cake! I am in the process of rotating my flavours on each visit here so this time I went for the chocolate and orange cake, I wasn’t disappointed 😉

bowlees-and-gibsons-cave Bowlees Visitor Centre and Gibson's Cave, Teesdale

During the Summer, or on warm Spring and Autumn days, you can venture not far from the centre also to the picnic area in the woods beside the river. A good spot indeed!

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The area behind the centre is also designated a dark skies area. Perfect for looking at night sky without light pollution. Of course…. they have an adventurous hammock for you to lie back, relax and watch the near Universe move across the sky, framed through a gap in the trees.

bowlees-and-gibsons-cave-4 Bowlees Visitor Centre and Gibson's Cave, Teesdale

I have done so many walks in the valley of Teesdale now, but on each trip I am finding more and more I want to do in future. I haven’t even scratched the surface and the staff at the centre are very knowledgeable and can help give you the best ideas for the day that you want yourselves. Always an excuse to come back and have more cake for sure.

Written by Paul Steele

Founder of and avid hiker, climber and trekker. Never liking to sit still and always seeking new adventures around the world. Sharing personal views here and tweeting live via @paul_steele

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