Peak District - Nature Recovery at Dalehead

by National Trust in Hope Valley, England, United Kingdom

Peak District - Nature Recovery at Dalehead

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Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 9th June 2024 at 12:00pm

Dalehead will be a place to demonstrate how different land management can benefit people, nature, climate and sustainable food production.

by National Trust in Hope Valley, England, United Kingdom

About Dalehead

If you visited Dalehead today, you’d be surrounded by beautiful Peak District views across farmland down the Vale of Edale and over to the iconic Mam Tor in one direction and Kinder Scout in the other.  You’d find a mix of woodland, wetlands, peatlands and grasslands on this 123 hectare site in the care of the National Trust. 

Dalehead was once a sheep farm and still plays a role in farming today, with cows grazing in the grasslands. It’s important for nature, for climate and sustainable food production. It’s already a beautiful place where you can see birds, bluebells, wildflowers, butterflies, bees and other pollinators but it has so much more potential.

You can stay on site in the bunkhouse, which is a great base for people who want to be surrounded by all that Dalehead and the Peak District offer. There are footpaths and rights of way through the site which lead visitors onto a range of routes through this part of the Peak District National Park.

About the project

This project uses what is already there but manages the land to do more to create habitats for a diverse range of wildlife, to improve soil health, increase carbon capture, reduce flood risk, make the landscape more climate resilient and provide a healthier diet for grazing animals. 

We want Dalehead to be a place everyone can learn from as we put different approaches to land management in place. In addition, and very importantly, we want it to be a place we can help a wider range of individuals and groups to connect with nature and maybe get involved in the nature recovery project too.

We want it to be a place to learn, explore and educate. We hope the work we do there will support farmers, landowners, NGOs, corporate groups, schools, colleges and universities. We also want to make it available to those who are looking to get into nature but are prohibited by the lack of access or facilities, offering the space to special interest groups, including those aimed at supporting individuals with physical or mental impairments.

The project so far

We have started work to explore different approaches to managing land at Dalehead. We will be integrating natural processes, conservation and grazing animals to achieve the outcomes we have set out in our ambitious ‘High Peak Vision’ to find solutions to climate and nature crisis.  

Work began this autumn with rangers, volunteers and our partners working to improve the condition of woodland, wood pasture and grassland. We have built exclosures in preparation for tree planting and changed some of the internal boundaries to give space for habitats to expand and develop. The exclosures are designed to protect young trees from grazing animals without the need for plastic tree guards. Native trees and shrub such as oak, alder, birch, hawthorn, and rowan will be planted this winter.

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What have we got planned? 

We will also create wetlands, expand woodlands, and introduce more scattered trees and bushes through planting and natural regeneration. This will help to improve places for wildlife to live and feed, increase biodiversity and make the landscape more resilient to climate change. We’ll use different land management and farming techniques to help us do this. Grazing animals will play a part to develop and establish different kinds of vegetation and help create the right conditions for a variety of wildlife to flourish. 

We also plan to reinstate and develop the nature trail in the area to improve access and increase the number of routes walkers of different abilities and ages can use. In time, we hope to increase educational access, community involvement and volunteering opportunities. The first phase of the project will last for around 10 years, but we will continue to care for the area long after that. 

What is the High Peak Vision? 

The National Trust own or manage around 13% of the Peak District, much of this land is in the High Peak. It includes Mam Tor, with spectacular views, landslip and prehistoric settlement, the famous Snake Pass and Alport Castles in Alport Valley. It also includes Kinder Scout, where the Mass Trespass of 1932 took place, which is the highest point in the Peak District and a National Nature Reserve. A lot of our peatland restoration work has taken place on Kinder Scout and we are about to embark upon another project to restore more precious peatland on this famous landmark. 

These special places quietly supply millions of people in the towns and cities around us with life’s necessities, like drinking water. The moors, wooded ravines and gorges help to protect us from flooding. Not only that, in good condition, the peatlands here can store and absorb vast quantities of carbon. Above all, these habitats are home to precious wildlife, and are loved by local communities and millions of visitors each year. 

The nature and climate crisis is amongst one of the biggest challenges facing society today and will impact future generations if we don’t act now. How we manage our land calls for bold transformational change. We believe land in the High Peak offers solutions to the climate and nature crisis

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What the High Peak looks like now and what the same place might look like in 40 years. Before Image: National Trust Images/Paul Harris Visualisation: FDA design

We want to see more trees, healthy peatlands, thriving wetlands and grasslands rich in flowers, grasses and fungi. We want to do all this by working with people, supporting a transition to land management which works with nature.  Our High Peak Vision sets out this ambition for landscape change to ensure that the land we care for is helping to tackle the nature and climate crisis as well as supporting sustainable food production. 

We have just been awarded £750,000 of funding from the Government money as part of their Landscape Recovery Scheme to deliver the High Peak Nature Recovery Project. This is a 2-year development project to develop bespoke 20+ year agreements with tenant farmers. The project covers around 9,000 hectares of land and is key to help us achieve our vision. The aim of the project is to protect and restore habitats to support threatened species such as hen harriers, mountain hares, bilberry bumblebees and much more. At the same time, it will ensure tenant farmers can produce good quality sustainable food with economically viable businesses. It will also help to protect and restore important heritage sites like Kinder Scout and Mam Tor, enabling people to enjoy these landmarks into the future.

Dalehead will be instrumental to this project and our High Peak Vision. It will provide a demonstration site which showcases new approaches to land management that can be replicated throughout the remaining 12,000Ha of land we care for in the area. 

Who are we?

The National Trust is Europe’s biggest conservation charity. We look after nature, beauty and history for everyone to enjoy. The nature and climate emergencies are the biggest threat to our natural and cultural heritage. The organisation knows that the land in our care in the High Peak has a direct part to play in building future generations’ ability to cope in the face of a changing climate. As part of our commitment and to meet our ambitious targets at the scale and pace required we have established a team focussed on delivery of the High Peak Vision. 

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Why do we need your help?

Work has already started, but we have ambitions to do so much more and at a faster pace to speed up nature recovery and improve access. Additional funding will be used to expand the work we are already doing, as well as provide the facilities and access infrastructure required to enable the Dalehead site to be fully accessible and welcome a new and diverse audience. 

Enabling access: £460k

  • Creation of a nature trail. 
  • Carry out feasibility and community engagement to convert the barns on site for use to engage people about nature and the work we’re doing on site and the rest of the High Peak.  
  • Improve the access track to the buildings/site. 
  • Install a changing places toilet. 
  • Convert barns to educational facilities and community space.

Habitat restoration and creation: £95k

  • Tree and scrub establishment. 
  • Wetland restoration.
  • Peatland restoration.  
  • Boundary management to enable natural processes. 
  • Monitoring and data analysis to enable us to understand and communicate our impact. 

Outreach and Education: £210k

  • Recruitment of a community/education officer. 
  • Outreach materials and travel costs/bursaries to enable groups to travel to site. 

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