This area has a rich and detailed landscape and stretches almost from the Tyne to the Tees and from the coast to central Durham.
Underlain by the distinctive Magnesian Limestone rock, it combines a gently undulating plateau with a striking west-facing escarpment with views across Durham and as far as the Cheviots and dramatic coastline of cliffs, sea stacks, and shallow bays.
There are peaceful areas of countryside, open gently undulating farmland and the more dramatic and plunging coastal denes that support characteristic woodland of ash and oak.
The medieval Benedictine monks were the first to exploit the rich mineral wealth of the plateau, beginning a long history of mining and quarrying which has heavily influenced the landscape – both in its settlement pattern and infrastructure, but also the highly visible extractive industries which have left highly visible quarries and areas of reclaimed colliery land.
The Limestone Landscapes Partnership works within the East Durham Limestone Plateau National Character Area which covers much of eastern County Durham and parts of Sunderland, South Tyneside and Hartlepool. You can find out more about National Character Areas on the Natural England website.
For information on the character of the landscape, download the following Limestone Landscapes Character Framework:
Or for further information and to view interactive maps on those areas lying within County Durham, please visit the Durham Landscape website.