Natural England - 11 Tyne Gap and Hadrian's Wall

11 Tyne Gap and Hadrian's Wall

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This narrow, distinctive corridor centred on the River Tyne separates the uplands of the North Pennines National Character Area (NCA) from the Border Moors and Forests NCA. Westwards are views of pastoral landscapes of the Solway Basin and Eden Valley NCAs and eastwards a more urban character prevails with views of the conurbation of Newcastle in the Tyne and Wear Lowlands NCA.

The Tyne valley is underlain by sedimentary Carboniferous rocks comprising a repetitive succession of limestones, sandstones, shales and intrusion of horizontal, igneous rock dolerite. Also, the prominent, intruded igneous Whin Sill formation forms a dramatic escarpment on which Hadrian’s Wall is built. A mosaic of arable and pasture land, conifer plantations and well-wooded valley sides occur, along with the fertile lowland corridor of the river flood plain. Here, flat, arable fields contrast with the larger-scale upper slopes of valleys. In the west, cattle and sheep graze large areas of rough pasture, divided by walls and fences, merging to mixed and arable land in the east. A well-wooded mosaic of deciduous, mixed and coniferous woodland provides habitat for priority species – red squirrel and woodland birds. Broadleaved woodland on steeper slopes lines the rivers.

The River Tyne and a network of tributaries is a major landscape feature, with the South Tyne flowing west to east and North Tyne flowing north to south and both converging just outside Hexham. The only other watershed is in the west where the River Irthing flows in a westerly direction. These rivers supply drinking water to settlements, including large conurbations in the Tyne and Wear Lowlands NCA. Water levels are maintained by a water transfer system which diverts water from reservoirs in adjoining uplands. Water quality and downstream flooding are issues, occurring during heavy rainfall when water rapidly flows through steep valleys in the uplands carrying sediment load. Sustainable land management measures in the uplands and this NCA are a priority.

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