Westmorland Dales Summer Newsletter
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Pictured: Wildflowers of the Westmorland Dales by Jon Chappell
Summer Newsletter

In this edition

  • Rebooting After Lockdown
  • A Film Guide to the Wildflowers of the Westmorland Dales
  • 'Sensational' Sessions for Home Schoolers
  • Bridging the Gap
  • Kirkby Stephen Bench Walks
  • Skills for the Future - Apprentices
  • Traditional Farm Buildings
  • Revealing the Foundations
  • Our 21 Scheme Projects
  • Westmorland Dales Films
  • Scheme Contact Details
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Rebooting After Lockdown

Welcome to our summer newsletter, with us aiming to get things going again after a frustrating and worrying time for us all. Our 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. Some members of the core Westmorland Dales team, including myself, have also returned, albeit on a staggered basis.
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 Smardale Gill viaduct. 

Nicola, our community engagement officer has been working with Christa from Cumbria Wildlife Trust and local cameraman Jon Chappell to produce a series of wonderful films to help you identify hay meadow wildflowers. She has also been working with local schools at Lowther and Shap trialling the safe running of outdoor activities in the school grounds.

We hope to undertake the final week of the archaeological survey of Great Asby Scar at the end of September and to restart our survey of traditional farm buildings. We’re pleased to be finalising details of the grant that will be available to restore a small handful of traditional farm buildings in the area. Work has also been ongoing 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 projects have slipped back by at least six months. So we’ve discussed with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our key funders, the possibility of extending the scheme by six 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.
David Evans, 20th August 2020


A Film Guide to the Wildflowers of the Westmorland Dales

The Westmorland Dales and Cumbria Wildlife Trust teams have joined up with local photographer and filmmaker Jon Chappell to produce a series of short films designed to help you identify the most common meadow wildflowers. So if you don’t know your meadow crane’s-bill from your wood crane’s-bill, or your oxeye daisy from your pignut then these films are for you.


20 films have been produced in total, 19 featuring individual meadow wildflowers and one combining all of the footage. We've made all of them available to view via our website so follow this link and identify your crane’s-bills before summer’s out!

'Sensational' Sessions for Home Schoolers

Lowther Endowed Primary and Shap CE Primary school children have been encouraged to use their senses to connect with their environment and friends in themed teaching sessions such as ‘Sensational Senses’, ‘Magical Mini-Beasts’, ‘Terrific Trees’ and ‘Fabulous Flowers’.

These ‘sensational’ sessions have been created to help those socially isolated children who have not been allowed to return to main school to come together in a safe space, meet friends and take part in outdoor learning in an attempt to try and reverse some of the ill effects from COVID 19 and the isolation that it imposes.

Home schoolers have been able to come into school grounds once a week for an hour to take part in this series of environmental education activities with Nicola Estill, our Community Engagement Officer.

Read the full story on our website

Bridging the Gap

Our new grant scheme is living up to its name by making its very first funding award to the Northern Viaduct Trust (NVT) in support of its fundraising effort to re-open the route across the top of Smardale Gill Viaduct to the public once more.

An award of £5,000 from our ‘Love Your Landscape’ grant scheme has kicked off the NVT’s fundraising campaign for this spectacular viaduct with its far reaching views across the Westmorland Dales.

Read the full story on our website

Kirkby Stephen Bench Walks

Nateby and Wharton WI and Kirkby Stephen & District Walkers Are Welcome have been developing the Kirkby Stephen Bench Walks project over the last year in partnership with various local organisations including the Westmorland Dales Scheme.

They have produced a lovely leaflet of mapped routes in and around Kirkby Stephen town with all the benches clearly numbered on the map. Plenty of places to take a break and take in the world around you.

You can download it here...Enjoy!

Skills for the Future - Apprentices

Since our apprentices returned to our premises at Tebay, they've all been working on their own individual projects around the office and grounds.

Billy has completed a limestone wall in front of the office, attaching a Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership sign in readiness we hope for visitors, once we are able to welcome them again safely.

Pictured: Billy Capstick, Countryside Worker Apprentice

Abbi has been building a stepped path leading down to the River Lune at the back of our building. Sarah has built a wooden tool rack for all the different sizes of tools, while Rebekah has finished building a wooden picnic bench for us all to sit at on warmer days as well as repairing one of Tebay's village notice boards.

The apprentices are employed as part of our 'Skills for the Future' project.

Cultural Heritage Projects - Update

Traditional Farm Buildings
While many of our projects have been postponed, we have taken the time to plan ahead. We are now beginning to talk to volunteers about restarting our traditional farm building (TFB) survey. This will be done at a safe distance by surveying from public rights of way, giving us a picture of the numerous TFBs that are found in the Westmorland Dales. In the future we will be able to carry out more thorough surveys, as well as providing training for more volunteers. 

Pictured: Greenside Barn viewed from a public right of way
We are also currently finalising details of the grant that will be available to restore a small handful of farm buildings that will help tell the story of farming in the area. A panel has now been formed to guide the process; it will meet for the first time towards the end of this month. We will be asking for expressions of interest in the autumn. Information about the grant and how to register your interest will be available on our website following a press release.
Archaeology Survey of Great Asby Scar
Over the last couple of months Lunesdale Archaeology Group have been progressing the archaeological survey of Great Asby Scar, building on the survey work already done by volunteers supervised by Northern Archaeological Associates. We hope to complete the volunteer survey at the end of September.

Little Asby Through the Keyhole
Our Little Asby through the Keyhole project has been pushed back 12 months, with Oxford Archaeology North appointed to lead both seasons of excavation activity, with the keyhole excavations in the autumn of 2021 and a larger excavation in 2022.

Revealing the Foundations

Our geology project 'Revealing the Foundations' is well underway now with the enthusiastic input of Sylvia and colleagues from Cumbria GeoConservation. They have been aided by the appointment of Dr Elizabeth Pickett and Marcus Byron who will be pulling together a series of factsheets on the 8 existing and 11 new local geological sites within the Westmorland Dales.

Pictured: Stenkrith Gorge

Perhaps of most interest  will be three new geo-trails with downloadable leaflets showcasing some of the area’s geology on walks from Kirkby Stephen, Orton and Smardale. We trialled the walk from Kirkby Stephen in June, which will feature one of the youngest rocks in the area brockram, through which the Eden has carved the spectacular gorge at Stenkrith.

Our 21 Scheme Projects

More information about all of the projects that form the core work being carried out over our scheme's lifespan. 

Visit our website for more information on all 21 scheme projects

Westmorland Dales Films

We've added a new section to our website featuring films that we've created as part of our project activities. They include a history of the Westmorland Dales, the Smardale Access Project featuring the Smardale Gill Walk, Kirkby Stephen Grammar School Voices and the Wildflower videos featured in this newsletter.

Watch them all here>

Scheme Contact Details

You will be aware that we have cancelled or postponed many of our planned events and activities until we know it is safe to proceed.  We have also taken other steps to reduce the risks to our staff, volunteers and everyone we work with. Our office in Tebay is operating with a limited staff with the remainder working from home. During this period you can still get in touch with us.

Please contact us via email at westmorlanddales@fld.org.uk or by phone on: 07814 305779. Individual contact information is available via our website contacts page.

Keep Up To Date

Follow the latest project news on our website www.thewestmorlanddales.org.uk and, if you haven’t done so already, sign up to our newsletter for news and volunteering opportunities. This scheme would not be possible without the support of volunteers. You do not need any experience, just an interest in heritage, a love of the outdoors and enthusiasm.

The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme is a four-year programme with a vision to unlock and reveal the hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales. The scheme is grant funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


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