Revitalising Redesdale launches its five year programme after securing National Lottery support

Friday 12th January 2018

launch at Risdale Ironworks, photo Natural England

Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership has received a confirmed grant of £1.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of Redesdale, in Northumberland.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, Revitalising Redesdale will deliver a five year programme of 12 interlinking projects which will seek the restoration of historic monuments, conservation and enhancement of wildlife habitats, and the opportunity for local people to get involved in archaeological and practical conservation projects.

This summer the iconic Ridsdale Engine House will be conserved and consolidated through the project. This was once part of a 19th century ironworks which provided the iron used to build the famous Tyne Bridge. Working with the Redesdale Society, the Revitalising Redesdale team will also be delivering a local history project to learn more about the Ironworks and provide new interpretation to tell its story.

A similar project is also planned for High Rochester which will see major repairs to the Roman Fort and new interpretation. Other projects include £670,000 of improvements across the river Rede and its tributaries to improve water quality to support the nationally important population of fresh water pearl mussel and undertake habitat improvements and measures to address diffuse pollution.

Working across Redesdale, including in partnership with the MoD, 760 hectares of peatland will be restored and 55 hectares of hay meadow. The Battlefields Trust will be leading a pioneering community research project to recreate the medieval landscape at Otterburn to more accurately identify the site of the 1388 moonlit battle between Harry ‘Hotspur’ and the Earl of Douglas.

There are also plans for a significant investment in the valley’s rights of way network, including the restoration of the historic Smoutel Ford. New interpretation, signage and artwork are also planned including innovative new star cairns and exciting new structure on the Forest Drive to encourage visitors to explore Redesdale.

Heritage Lottery Funding will support the employment of a small team that will help deliver this ambitious £2.8 million programme, through a unique partnership which will see three organisations: Natural England, Northumberland National Park and Northumberland Wildlife Trust jointly hosting the posts.

Brad Tooze, Area Manager for Natural England commented: “Redesdale is a beautiful and inspiring landscape. Its relative remoteness, rich natural history and vibrant communities all add to its special and distinctive character. National Lottery funding and strong partnership-working will deliver major habitat improvements to peatland, hay meadows and the river alongside a range of opportunities for local people and visitors to the area to become directly involved in the important work including surveying, research and to learn new technical and practical skills.”

Tony Gates, Chief Executive of NNPA said: “ Northumberland National Park Authority is delighted to be working alongside Natural England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and other local partners on this landscape partnership scheme which covers an important area both within and beyond Northumberland National Park.

The National Park is an important part of the historic heart of the North East and is home to a number of the county’s ancient monuments. It will be great to see some of these in Redesdale brought back to their former glory through the generosity of the National Lottery and how, over time, this investment will help to revitalise the communities and rural economy within the area.“

Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Chief Executive said: “This is a fantastic chance to involve local people in recording and finding more out about the hidden natural history of this amazing part of Northumberland. Local communities have forged a unique and close relationship with the Redesdale landscape for centuries and now they will help ensure the wildlife of the valley and hills are properly recognised and that important habitats, for a wide range of species of birds, mammals, plants and insects are connected to ensure they thrive into the future.

“People are at the core of the conservation of the Redesdale wildlife network and this project will make sure they develop opportunities to make nature resilient into the future, underlining how important the natural world is to local communities and everyone.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support Natural England, their partners and the residents of Redesdale to finally tell the incredibly story of this landscape and preserve its beauty and heritage for future generations to enjoy.”