Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership

The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme aims to unlock and reveal the hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales, enabling more people to connect with, enjoy and benefit from this inspirational landscape. Thanks to National Lottery players it has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Fund

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Volunteers from the Asby and Crosby Ravensworth tree groups, Friends of the Lake District and others enjoyed three days of hedgelaying last week at Gaythorne Hall in the heart of the Westmorland Dales.

By managing a hedge by ‘laying’, trees are encouraged to regenerate; this extends their life, and that of the hedge as a whole. A well laid hedge can act as great barrier to livestock movement and also protection and shelter from the worst of winter weather. Hedges can also help prevent soil erosion, capture pollutants, and allow wildlife to move more freely across the countryside.

Under the expert tuition of Stephen Lord and John Nicholson, volunteers got a taste of the basics. They tackled a 55m length of hedgerow, planted about 15 years ago, which will form an important wildlife refuge and landscape feature in a beautiful location in the Scalebeck valley. Gaythorne Hall itself has a rich history. Once a monastic farm which was attached to Bylands Abbey in Yorkshire it is now part of the Levens Estate and featured in the 1990s mini-series “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”.

The free training days were organised by the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme. It hopes to run more days like this over the next two years to give more people opportunities to learn valuable heritage skills. There has been a dramatic reduction in people with countryside and management skills and it is hoped that days like these will help to address some of the shortfall.

Having caught the bug, some volunteers are already looking to develop their new found skills further in the neighbouring parishes of Asby and Crosby Ravensworth, or on sites owned by Friends of the Lake District. After attending the training, one volunteer said:

“Immediately, on the way home, I noticed a hedge that could do with laying! I would like to be able to apply these skills locally, with members of the Crosby Ravensworth Tree Group, of which I am a part. It would be a shame not to use what I’ve learnt, and learn more through practice.”

Nicola Estill, co-ordinator of the taster days on behalf of the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme said:

“Stephen and John were brilliant tutors, sharing their huge knowledge and experience, and the volunteers seemed to love every minute of it. What a perfect location too, exactly the sort of activity that the Heritage Fund is keen to support.”

More information about events and training offered by the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership are available via its website