A raft of initiatives to encourage under-represented groups to enjoy the Yorkshire Dales National Park are being hailed as a success.

The National Park Authority has overseen an assortment of projects over the past year including farm open days, outdoor classes for schools and volunteer-led nature walks.

The activities were run by range of organisations participating in the National Park Management Plan.

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A meeting of the park authority on Tuesday heard nearly 6,000 young people engaged with the natural environment through these organised activities in the year to the end of March.

This work has continued into this year, for example with families from Leeds spending a day in Malham earlier this month.

Under-represented groups were also attracted by days out, such as those who went on a Muslim Hikers-organised trip to the summit of Whernside in March.

An overview of the progress being made on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Management Plan was presented to the Park Authority at the meeting.

The Plan covers the period 2019 to 2024 and commits the organisations behind it to achieving 49 objectives.

The meeting heard that good progress was being made on most of the objectives.

In particular, all 11 of the objectives relating to being a ‘welcoming place’ had been achieved or were on course to be achieved.

One member of the plan's steering group, Anthony Bradley, representing the Yorkshire Dales Farming Network, is getting personally involved in meeting one of the objectives.

The Northern Echo: People who came on the Muslim Hikers-organised walk up Whernside in MarchPeople who came on the Muslim Hikers-organised walk up Whernside in March

A few weeks ago he led a walk from Long Preston in Craven to his livestock farm nearby, as part of a programme of farm and estate open days.

He said: “Some people are gawping at the landscape without understanding it.

"Having badgered for the farm open days to be an objective I thought I better put my hand up and run one.

"We used Eventbrite and about a dozen or more people came along.

"We chatted, looked at livestock, I answered questions.

"I dug a hole for them to see what carbon was. And people enjoyed it.

“I explained the different species of plants, the system of permanent grassland and ruminant livestock, the reason the fields sizes are as they are and the hedges that have been planted for wildlife corridors.

"We hope we’re raising awareness, promoting the value of farming activity in the National Park.

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"The feedback I got was along the lines of ‘oh, so that’s why you do that.’”

Chair of the Management Plan steering group, David Sharrod, who represents the charity, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, said: “There is much to celebrate in this year’s progress report.

"A real highlight of the past year has been the engagement work, with young people particularly, from all of the partners – organisations, local communities, farmers, businesses –as we welcomed back visitors, especially the many visiting for the first time or those who might not have thought the Dales was a place for them.”

“‘Lockdowns’ made so many appreciate what the Dales has to offer everyone: physical and mental refreshment, a connection with nature, and a sense of shared community between those who live here and those from further away.”


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