Hannah’s Meadow Nature Reserve is situated in the heart of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (A.O.N.B), which comprises of one of the most extensive and remote areas of upland England.
The meadows and pasture at Hannah’s Meadow have evolved as a result of traditional farming practices over several centuries. They were previously owned and farmed by Hannah Hauxwell for over 50 years. Living alone at Low Birk Hat Farm without the luxury of electricity or running water Hannah managed the land using the traditional methods that avoided adding artificial fertilizers or re-seeding. Instead she farmed the fields for hay and pasture thus maintaining the rich variety of wildlife that has evolved over centuries. Hannah retired in 1988 and the meadows and pasture were bought by Durham Wildlife Trust who now manage them as a nature reserve.
The meadows are considered to be some of the least improved and most species rich upland in Durham and as such have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The grass sward is dominated by meadow fox-tail, sweet vernal grass and crested dog’s tail with an abundance of wild flowers, including ragged robin, wood crane’s-bill, marsh marigold, yellow rattle, adder’s tongue fern and globeflower.
The pasture has a more acidic character with rushes and sedges domination and this supports breeding birds such as lapwing, skylark, redshank, curlew and meadow pipit.
The old barn in the top meadow has been converted into an un-manned visitor centre containing displays describing the life of Hannah Hauxwell, the importance of the meadows in Teesdale and the work of Durham Wildlife Trust. It is open all year round.
Further details are available by contacting the Trust on 0191 5843112.
Hannah’s Meadow Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre
Hannah’s Meadow and barn can be found in Upper Teesdale, a quarter of a mile east of Northumbrian Water’s Balderhead Reservoir car park. From Barnard Castle, follow the B6277 via Lartington and Cotherstone to Romaldkirk and then follow the Balderhead road via Hunderthwaite.