Westmorland Dales Update July 2020 

After two months or so of lockdown, and the gradual easing of restrictions, we’re all in need of a boost. So we are actively looking at ways in which we can get all our projects and activities up and running again. That doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening. After two months of creative home working the apprentice team led by Belinda have been back working from Tebay since the beginning of June, starting with some fantastic improvements to the area around the building.  The core Westmorland Dales team also plans to start working from Tebay again, albeit on a staggered basis, from early August. It will be good to be based there, even if we do seem to have missed summer!

Since April we’ve received our first bids for our Love Your Landscape grants for community projects that support our objectives. We’re delighted to say that we’ve approved two grants; one to the Crosby Ravensworth Parish Tree Group for their excellent tree planting work; one to the Northern Viaduct Trust to make safe the railings on Smardalegill viaduct. The next deadline is Friday 28th August so do get in touch if you have a project in mind. Details of the grant are elsewhere on the website.

Our cancelled events included one to celebrate National Meadows Day at the beginning of July. So Nicola has been working with Christa from Cumbria Wildlife Trust and local cameraman Jon Chappell to produce a wonderful film to help you identify hay meadow wildflowers. So be inspired to get out to enjoy the flowers whilst they’re still flowering. Our landscape forum planned for Great Asby in April was also cancelled but we’re exploring the possibility of holding some sort of event in the autumn, depending on whether restrictions are eased further or not. And Nicola has been working with local schools at Lowther and Shap trialling the safe running of outdoor activities in the school grounds. Hopefully we’ll be able to do more in the autumn.

Meanwhile Hannah has been planning ahead with her projects, many of which rely on volunteers. We’re hoping to undertake the final week of the archaeological survey of Great Asby Scar at the end of September and to restart the survey of traditional farm buildings. But both depend on careful weighing up of the associated risks and measures we need to put in place. We’re also finalising details of the grant that will be available to restore a small handful of traditional farm buildings that will help tell the story of farming in the area. Work has also been going on with Cumbria GeoConservation and consultants researching factsheets for the area’s local geological sites and three new geo-trails.

Despite this increased level of activity many of our projects have slipped back by at least 6 months. So we’ve discussed with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our key funders, the possibility of extending the scheme by 6 months, with everything coming to an end in the autumn rather than the spring of 2023. This may seem a long way off but it will give us a final summer to celebrate and enjoy everything that we will have achieved.