8th March 2017

‘Westmorland Dales Hidden Landscapes’ is an exciting project which will reveal the spectacular but hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales and encourage those journeying through the area to linger and discover more about its rich heritage, internationally recognised geological sites and its spectacular wildlife. It’s an area that boasts 79 Scheduled Ancient Monuments, 19 sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) and two National Nature Reserves.

A development grant of £317,204, awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Landscape Partnership (LP)¹ programme has given the Westmorland Dales Hidden Landscapes Partnership the green light to develop a joint plan to deliver these aims across an area extending over 200 sq km from Maulds Meaburn in the north to Tebay in the south-west and Ravenstonedale in the south-east. The area forms part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park following the extension to park boundaries in August 2016 although still lying within the county of Cumbria.

The project has three main aims.

  • To unlock and reveal the rich, spectacular, but hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales.
  • To conserve and enhance the forgotten landscape and heritage of the Westmorland Dales ensuring that the landscape is protected and cherished; in so doing to provide a strong foundation for the “new” National Park.
  • To provide opportunities for those journeying through the Westmorland Dales to linger in the landscape and learn about its rich cultural and natural heritage.

David Evans, newly appointed project development officer at Friends of the Lake District who are acting as lead body on behalf of the partnership said,

 “Even at the early stages of planning, we will be encouraging engagement and enthusiasm in the project by residents, businesses and visitors in activities that will protect and enhance the many archaeological, historical and geological features in the landscape.”

One of the project goals will be to protect scheduled monuments such as Pendragon Castle as well as archaeological features on Birkett, Orton and Asby commons. The project will also raise awareness with research to identify undiscovered archaeological earthworks, sub-surface archaeology and the geological interest of the area by working with local interest groups and volunteers to record, interpret and manage them.

David Evans,

“Ultimately, we want people to stop and discover more about this unique place. The coast to coast path crosses it and national cycle routes run through it so there is already a high throughput of visitors. Our task is to encourage visitors to linger and learn more about this areas rich cultural heritage, geology and stunning landscape, and so bring benefits that will help sustain the local economy whilst being sensitive to its tranquil and unspoilt character.

“I’m looking forward to meeting and working with community organisations, interest groups, farmers, landowners and businesses throughout the planning phase. Their involvement is vital to the success of the project and the quality of the long term legacy that we leave the area.”

The ‘Westmorland Dales Hidden Landscapes’ project will receive a grant of £3.2m to deliver the project aims at the end of the planning phase provided that final proposals fully meet HLF’s programme criteria.