LIVING in the countryside traditionally involves divorcing oneself entirely from certain elements of city life. But, where transport is concerned, no such sacrifice is necessary for the people of Teesdale.
The sheltered valley to the north of the Yorkshire Dales seems at once forgotten and connected to the rest of the country by road and rail as if it were an urban centre.
The A1 bisects the DL2 postcode area, as does the East Coast Main Line. The quality of the transport links might seem a rather dry facet of an area defined by its breathtaking natural beauty.
However, it remains hugely significant because there is arguably nowhere in the country that can make you feel so isolated and well-connected at the same time.
But, despite the ease with which a speedy exit can be achieved, the attractions contained within DL2 provide a list of reasons to stay put.
One example of this is Raby Castle in Staindrop, one of the largest medieval castles in the country.
Built in the 14th Century on the site of a previously fortified manor house by the Nevill family, it has been the home of Lord Barnard’s family since 1626.
With artwork from the medieval, regency and Victorian periods, as well as ornamental gardens and surrounding parkland, the site won a gold award in the North-East England Tourism Awards.
It is also a short drive away from 21m waterfall High Force, near Middleton-in- Teesdale.
This is arguably one of the most stunning natural wonders in the North-East and the surrounding area provides ample opportunity for a woodland walk. Nearby, Barnard Castle is one of the most celebrated attractions.
Set on a rock by the River Tees, the castle is a Grade I-listed building.
Darlington, the nearest major town, also has a lot to offer. Once thought of as primarily industrial, the town is now talked about as an exciting centre for arts.
The Darlington Arts Association was formed in 1976 and a series of improvements have transformed it into one of the region’s top venues.
From Darlington Railway Centre and Museum to Darlington Football Stadium, there is no shortage of places to enjoy a day out.
Meanwhile, a cluster of villages to the west of Darlington offer the balance of privacy and access that defines the area.
Picturesque High Coniscliffe, Gainford and Winston all lie just off the A67 and offer community groups for their residents.
Hurworth on Tees and Middleton St George are slightly nearer Darlington, and are popular commuter villages as a result.
Proximity to Durham Tees Valley Airport is another draw for those who value travel.
Having changed its name in 2004, it is considered one of the fastest-growing regional airports in the UK.
Of all the methods of transport used in Teesdale, however, it is perhaps walking that is the most common. The area offers a number of routes, of various lengths, while cyclists are also provided for, with on- and off-road cycle trails. Teesdale can also offer more adventurous pursuits such as canoeing, windsurfing and even skiing.
But for those who would rather get back to the city, being relatively near to Newcastle and Leeds, shopping is always close at hand.