A pioneering education and outreach project is branching out into Lancashire to encourage more people to experience the benefits of spending time in the countryside.
The ‘People and the DALES’ project, run by Clapham-based charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), has orgnaised a pilot project in the Forest of Bowland.
It has already given 4,750 people from disadvantaged urban backgrounds the opportunity to visit the Yorkshire Dales countryside, using funding from Natural England’s Access to Nature programme.
Now the charity wants to share its expertise in providing such visits. It has joined forces with the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), thanks to a grant from its Sustainable Development Fund.
Through the partnership a pilot project is underway to explore the potential for a project similar to ‘People and the DALES’ to be introduced to encourage a wide range of people to visit the Forest of Bowland AONB.
The pilot has researched possible groups, places to visit and delivered a series of events for refugees and asylum seekers and other disadvantaged community groups from Manchester, Burnley and Morecambe.
Groups enjoyed a Hallowe’en themed event at Cobble Hey Farm, kite making and orienteering at Beacon Fell Country Park, visiting Lower Gazegill Organic Farm, where they enjoyed homemade ice-cream, and felt making at Laund Farm, all within the beautiful countryside of the Forest of Bowland.
For some individuals it was their first visit to the AONB and an eye-opening experience which illustrated just how accessible and uplifting the countryside can be.
Judy Rogers, community worker at YDMT, said: “We are so proud of the achievements of the People and the DALES project in the Dales, and are keen to help other groups and organisations develop similar initiatives which build on the experience we have gained, so that even more people can benefit.
“It has been great working with the Forest of Bowland team.”
Sandra Silk, project officer with the Forest of Bowland said: “The Forest of Bowland is a beautiful area and we’re keen to help new groups discover all that it has to offer.
“It’s been great being able to benefit from Judy’s knowledge and enthusiasm and the experience of the YDMT.”