Project to improve Wensleydale environment launched

Wensleydale Project illustration by Janet Swailes.

An ambitious set of projects to help improve the environment of Wensleydale and the wider Ure catchment – for the benefit of local people and nature – has been published in a 25-page strategy document.

The strategy is the cornerstone of ‘The Wensleydale Project – Yore Past, Ure Future’, an initiative which is:

  • improving soils and supporting sustainable farming;
  • creating more space for nature;
  • reducing pollution in the watercourses and improving natural flood management;
  • increasing understanding of Wensleydale’s historic landscape and helping visitors enjoy its unique character.

The Wensleydale Project covers an area of 506 km2, stretching 26 miles from Lunds Fell in the west to Kilgram Bridge in the east, where water is abstracted from the Ure for treatment and supplied back to the Upper Dales as drinking water.

Behind it lies a partnership of organisations, businesses, individuals and groups, brought together by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust (YDRT).

Local naturalist, Deborah Millward, came up with the idea. She said: “Everybody knows of Wensleydale, but few people are aware that its landscape and rivers are in a fragile state. This strategy document is based on an extensive review of data, as well as on what was said at local public meetings. It sets out the problems, as well as the community-led actions needed to solve them. It’s vital work.  So many people – residents and visitors – love Wensleydale for its beauty and tranquility.”


There is no single pot of money for The Wensleydale Project.  Instead, funds are being raised separately for each of the 22 actions in the strategy, as the opportunity arises.

The YDNPA’s Senior Farm Conservation Officer, Helen Keep, said:  “The Wensleydale Project is really a bringing together of a whole range of interconnected projects, so that the impact is greater than the sum of the parts.

“We’ve already made a great start with Wensleydale being chosen for the national trial of a new type of agri-environment scheme.

“The pilot scheme is paying farmers for the environmental benefits they produce, while giving them the flexibility to get on with producing high quality food, too. Now we want to build on that success.”

Rita Mercer of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust (YDRT) said:  “The Wensleydale Project is a great example of how Catchment-based partnership working encourages organisations and communities to come together, identifying key issues in an area where rivers and watercourses are such a vital part of the local landscape and environment.

“YDRT and YDNPA have worked closely with partners to develop innovative ideas under the umbrella of the Dales to Vales Rivers Network and already our work has given rise to initiatives such as the Ure River Community Science Project monitoring water quality and the Naturally Resilient Project working with farmers on natural flood management techniques.

“YDRT is working closely with all of the partners to develop additional co-designed projects which are more likely to attract external funding.”

Full details can be found at a new website: