Upper Nidderdale Partnership column

People enjoy the Nidderdale in the City event at Kirstall Abbey. Picture by Paul Harris photography.
People enjoy the Nidderdale in the City event at Kirstall Abbey. Picture by Paul Harris photography.

It hardly seems five minutes since this column celebrated the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership’s second birthday. And yet here we are at the end of year three. This seems a good time for a rundown of our favourite recent moments.

The following were chosen by Iain Mann, our scheme manager.

Iain was instrumental in guiding the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund that got the Partnership off the ground in July 2014, so he’s had the satisfaction of seeing it go from the drawing board to an everyday concern.

He said: “It’s great to see our projects coming to life and having real effects on the ground. These are some of my highlights – although so many people have been involved doing such an array of amazing work that if you ask me again tomorrow, I might choose different ones!”

Opening the icehouse in Fishpond Wood to the public for the first time.

Before refrigerators were invented, the Yorke family of Bewerley Hall owned an icehouse. Few souls had peered into its depths since Bewerley Hall was demolished nearly a century ago.

We’ve made the building safe and accessible so you can now do just that.

Providing a des res for sand martins.

Standing beside Gouthwaite Reservoir this is a purpose-built nesting site for these endangered birds. Sand martins usually nest in burrows in sandbanks, but their local habitat was lost so the artificial wall provides a vital nesting site.

Restoring our magical haymeadows.

We all know our traditional hay meadows have come under pressure from changing farm practices. What you might not know is that there are now many more hectares of traditional meadow in Nidderdale than there were in 2014, courtesy of the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership and its work with the dale’s farmers.

Inspiring schoolchildren with the wonders of nature.

Nidderdale Birdwatchers have been visited schools holding bird box building workshops. It’s life-affirming to see schoolchildren light up with enthusiasm when someone passionate and engaged shows them the natural world. One of the most rewarding parts of our work.

Helping keep crafts and skills alive.

Speaking of rewarding, when we set up the Foundation Programme in Heritage Skills, we couldn’t have foreseen what a success it would be. It offers local students invaluable opportunities for vocational training and work experience.

We’re hugely grateful for the support that local businesses have given the project by providing work placements.

Forging links between town and country.

Despite the fact that multicultural Leeds and Bradford are on our doorstep, about 97% of our visitors are white and only 22% are young people. Our outreach programme is designed to make people from all walks of life feel welcome in the countryside and our Nidderdale in the City event, attracting 1800 people, was a brilliant success.

It’s been a busy few years, but we still have another year to look forward to and some exciting events in the pipeline. Soon we have the Studfold Big Dig from 3 to 7 July. The latest of our community archaeology excavations will see us delving into the history of the landscape at Studfold Farm, near Lofthouse.

Details are on our website.

This summer we’ll also be launching our new Nidderdale Way guide, a downloadable resource for anyone walking the 53-mile route – surely Britain’s finest long weekend.