The Living Uplands project was first created as a means to focus attention on the sixth most endangered bird in the UK, the iconic Black Grouse. The Black Grouse are best known for the males gathering on what is known as a ‘lek’, particularly in April and May, to display their feathers to attract a mate.

The process of gathering information on the Black Grouse made it obvious that its story lies within a rich and diverse balance of nature – habitat, climate, food and life cycle – and that there is a bigger story to tell about the Upland of Weardale. 

Living Uplands is working towards a full resource that provides the big picture of what makes the Upland landscape so special and important: 

The expansion of Living Uplands is already underway, with two important projects.

Along with the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) Living Uplands will be creating new resource that explain the unique maze caves of The North Pennines UNESCO Global Geopark, featuring the Fairy Holes of Upper Weardale.

In collaboration with  Durham Wildlife Trust, Living Uplands is supporting a project studying “source to sea” of water from the Uplands, with particular attention to plastics entering the system from Wearhead to Sunderland. 

Meantime, Living Uplands offers a suite of educational resource materials featuring the Black Grouse as a means of bring attention of all aspects of Uplands nature. Further materials will be added as the project expands. 

Teachers and educators have access to a FREE cross-curricular education pack. This offers schools the opportunity to bring nature into their classrooms. through the drama of the Black Grouse lek. This project links directly to Keystage 1 & 2 curriculum and is an effective way to enhance Science and Literacy skills, and to promote pupil creativity and confidence. The range of materials cover habitat, adaptation, food chain and life cycle. There are pictures and videos, and occasional blog pieces on life on the landscape of Upper Weardale

Durham Wildlife Trust is keen to see this project develop further, and schools’ feedback on the current education pack will be invaluable in developing future materials.

Durham Wildlife Trust would like to thank the farm owner who has made this project possible. For the security of the local Black Grouse population that partner remains anonymous.


Recent Updates

A promising time on the Uplands

July 10th, 2019

Late Spring and early summer has been a busy time on the uplands of Upper Weardale. This time-lapse video shows the remarkable energy of the early morning Black Grouse on the Lek. By now of course many of the young birds hatched in May and early June are almost ready to leave the nest. Late… Read more »

What’s beneath the surface?

June 10th, 2019

Our minds are conditioned by what we see of the landscape around us. Beneath the surface is geology that conditions the world above. At the end of June 2019 the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) and The North Pennines UNESCO Global Geopark (NPUGG) will meet at Nenthead, near the watershed between the Tyne and Wear rivers,… Read more »

Birds at risk

June 3rd, 2019

A group of Young Volunteers from Durham Wildlife Trust has completed the first weekend of bird monitoring on our Upland, the third successive year. As we noted previously the mild winter and decent spring is a significant improvement on the difficult conditions ground nesting birds faced in 2018. With anticipation our team went to the… Read more »

Hopes for better weather and healthier breeding season in 2019

April 25th, 2019

It was a miserable year for birdlife on the upland in 2018, but there is hope for a better 2019. Last year’s bitterly cold winter, late spring, and scorching summer meant the breeding pattern for our birdlife was severely disrupted. As a consequence nests had fewer eggs – for example, curlew had perhaps only two… Read more »