summerhill force bowlees and gibsons cave

Within the beautiful valley of Teesdale, Durham Dales, there is one place that is always my first stop here, Bowlees Visitor Centre and a quick walk to the beautiful Gibson’s Cave.

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.

Bowlees visitor centre 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.

Social Wellness Walks

Summerhill Force and Gibson’s Cave

Away from High and Low Force there is another waterfall gem that you can get to 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.

Summerhill Force and Gibson's Cave

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

Why is it called Gibson’s Cave? Well 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.

path to Gibsons cave

Walking too and from the Visitor Centre to the cave and waterfall I got a sense of all the activities that are aimed at youngsters and to inspire them in the nature around them. Bowlees Visitor Centre is so much more than a cafe/information centre.

Bird trails, bug hotels (huge), an outdoor classroom for learning and lots more.

Buggingham palace for insects
fungi in the woods at Bowlees Visitor Centre Teesdale

Inside Bowlees Visitor Centre

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 has more information on the area than a few places 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.

cake in bowlees visitor centre

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!

Picnic Area

in the woods
picnic area by the river tees

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.

stargazing hammock

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, oh and have more cake for sure.

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