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.
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:
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 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)
Historical and condition survey of dry stone walls throughout the project area. Seek to understand the narrative of enclosure through the patterns of the field walls. Consolidation of priority lengths of wall.
Project lead: Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Delivery Team
Dry stone walls represent one of the key landscape characteristics of the Westmorland Dales. To the visitor they define a visually impressive patchwork of interconnected barriers and routes, to some within the project area they represent the interaction of family, history and ownership with the landscape.
The long-term tradition of pastoral farming in the project area has meant that it is possible to identify the extents of former medieval arable farming through the surviving layout of field walls. Features such as droveways and outgangs provided routes linking villages to their areas of common land, and are clearly visible within the patterns of the dry stone walls. Alongside numerous other features, are shared or ’stinted’ pastures believed to have been built between the late medieval period and the 17th Century are also visible. Place name evidence and research from adjacent areas has raised the possibility of walls in the area following the paths of Norse ‘ring garths’ that separated fertile arable land from course grazing.
The construction of dry stone walls can tell us something about the date and purpose and process that led to their creation. Walls contain a range of built features ‘furniture’, most of which are related to farming needs (sheep creeps, water smoots, wall heads etc), some furniture may, for example, demarcate maintenance responsibilities where the rights to a field were historically shared between farmers.
Many historically significant walls have become damaged and create negative visual impacts in the landscape, particularly those which now serve no function for farmers and are ineligible for funding. They are in danger of being lost in the landscape, becoming piles of stones if they degrade further. Maintaining and rebuilding dry stone walls will help to retain a key aspect of the character of the Westmorland Dales landscape.
Over 7 days in May and June volunteers, led by Dr David Johnson, carried out a dry stone wall survey in Asby parish. In advance we held a taster and training day, to give an introduction to walls, the landscape and how to survey them.
Do you want to find out more about dry stone walls? Do you enjoy documentary research? Have you ever wanted to survey dry stone walls? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then this project has an opportunity for you.
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.