Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership

The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme finished in early 2024 with projects successfully delivered by a wide range of project partners, community groups and individuals. 
Over the coming months, we’ll be updating this site to highlight what’s been achieved, so please keep checking back.

Welcome …

… to the Westmorland Dales website.

The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme aimed to unlock and reveal the hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales, enabling more people to connect with, enjoy and benefit from this inspirational landscape. Specifically, its objectives were to:

  • Reveal the area’s hidden heritage.
  • Conserve what makes the area special.
  • Engage people in enjoying and benefitting from their heritage.
  • Sustain the benefits of the scheme in the long-term.

This was achieved through a programme of projects developed and delivered through the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership, led by Friends of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and mainly funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It ran over a five-year period from March 2019 to February 2024.

Here you can discover what makes the area so special, find out about the scheme’s projects, and view and download resources produced.

The Westmorland Dales

The Westmorland Dales is a beautiful area of Cumbria lying to the north of the Howgill Fells and located within the north-west corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It stretches from Tebay in the south-west to Kirkby Stephen in the east and to Maulds Meaburn in the north-west. At its heart are the limestone fells above Orton and Asby, rich in natural and cultural heritage, and with magnificent views to the Pennines, the Howgills and the Lakeland fells. It drains into the Lune river catchment to the south and the Eden river catchment to the north. Relatively overlooked compared with its better-known neighbours, our projects have aimed to reveal its heritage for more to enjoy without detracting from its unique qualities. (Click on map for larger image)

Contact information

Friends of the Lake District
Murley Moss, Oxenholme Road, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 7SS
Main Telephone:  01539 720788
Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
Yoredale, Bainbridge, Leyburn, North Yorkshire DL8 3EL
Main Telephone:  01969 652300

An oral history project, which engaged volunteers in recording the memories of local farming families of the commons and how they were farmed, resulting in an archive of recordings and an exhibition which has toured the area.

The project will focus on common land, commoners and commoning in the project area. It will record the unique history of this type of land and farming, and culminate in a celebration to celebrate the area’s common land and commoners.

Project lead: Friends of the Lake District

Common land is hugely significant to Cumbria (we have a third of England’s common land), but also to the project area. Unenclosed common land characterises much of the upland landscape of the Westmorland Dales, providing rough pasture grazing for both cattle and sheep and also delivering multiple public benefits. These unenclosed areas of land are of a beautiful, wild appearance yet have been farmed for over 450 years by hill farmers, tending their livestock through traditional husbandry practices. The project area itself has around 30 individually registered pieces of common land which are under threat. This project will focus on the following commons: Asby, Cotemoor, Hardendale, Crosby Ravensworth, Ravenstonedale, Tebay, Bank Moor and Birkett.  

The number of active commoners is declining, and many of them are elderly and have no successors. There is less manpower to effectively manage the commons in terms of gathering and grazing. Time may be running out for some commons and it is important to capture their history and cultural heritage whilst we can. Many people outside the farming community don’t really understand what’s involved in upland farming and the unique heritage of commons- this project will improve understanding. 

The significance of commons

  • Livestock production - the commons provide the home for native breeds of sheep including mainly Rough Fell in the Westmorland Dales.
  • Environmental assets – reservoir of rich biodiversity, landscape beauty, much of it designated as SSSI improving connectivity for wildlife with enclosed land.
  • Culture and heritage - links to rich history and traditions, communal grazing
  • Aesthetics and sense of place – Visually distinctive appearance.
  • Health and quality of life - common land is open access and tranquil.
  • Social cohesion and community activity- communal grazing and traditional forms of management


  • To raise awareness and understanding amongst the general public about the unique commoning heritage in the Westmorland Dales
  • To celebrate the unique commoning heritage in the Westmorland Dales
  • To capture and record the history of commoners and store in public archives.
  • To bring commoners together and reinforce their common interest.