Who are we?
My name is Lisa Johnstone and I have raised my family in Teesdale, living and working here for over 20 years. I have been a regular visitor since childhood. I chose to live here as for me, it is perfect. Something about Teesdale captured me as a rebellious 16 year old….and I’m still here, appreciating that spirit every day.
The combination of the wild upland moors, great walks, beautiful views and underpinning it all, the river Tees, tumbling over the ancient Whin Sill, taking strength from the rivers Lune, the Balder and Greta.
I design and develop websites from my office in Teesdale and have thought for many years that Teesdale is under represented when it comes to tourism. Visit Durham labels us as the Durham Dales which I feel is not quite providing the identity we deserve. There have been other private initiatives. I have long felt that there has been a fragmentary approach to marketing of Teesdale. With a history of working in the digital and marketing areas, and being super organised…this is me.
I have had the idea for creating Visit Teesdale and it’s sister website, Made in Teesdale taking shape in my head, for several years. Over time my ideas have taken evolved. I have worked on both sites as much as I could, with both projects being self funded. Walking every day, along the many paths and trails in Teesdale, I want to encourage visitors to appreciate the dale, whilst visiting in harmony with us residents who live here.
In 2020 it looks increasingly unlikely that we will be able to safely holiday abroad. UK tourism will become increasingly important to us all. I believe that whilst British residents might not want to take a plane journey to their favourite Mediterranean holiday spot, they will feel comfortable, visiting British destinations where the accommodation hosts have made it as safe as it possibly can.
So …now seems to be the perfect time.
Can Teesdale Enjoy Sustainable Tourism?
One of my roles is that of parish councillor and I am aware that the impact tourism can have on an area can be diverse. And profound. And not always welcomed by residents . During the easing of the COVID-19 lock-down the area in which I live, along with Bowlees, Barnard Castle, Middleton in Teesdale, High Force and many others had large numbers of visitors arrive, during the spell of great weather, and without any facilities being open, this number was overwhelming. Social media was alight with images of litter strewn riversides and poor car parking.
Two factors collided. Easing of the unprecedented lock-down and beautifully warm and sunny weather.
Having attended the AONB North Pennines tourism workshops in early 2019, I believe that there is a balance which can be achieved. Sustainable tourism is key to enjoying the financial benefits whilst ensuring that the very landscape and its residents is not adversely affected. The AONB call it “slow tourism” and I like that. It encapsulates that coming to Teesdale is all about, taking in the views, enjoying walks, slowing down, taking in more, and this “slow tourism” perfectly complements the mindfulness approach to our personal health and well being, practised by many.