Our new website has been launched to help groups and individuals who wouldn’t normally visit the Yorkshire Dales to do so under their own steam by providing inspiration, information and practical hints and tips about how to access the countryside.
Visitors to the website will find information about how to travel to the Dales via public transport and comprehensive guides to help with planning a visit, keeping safe and navigating in the countryside. There is also a growing collection of downloadable walks complete with detailed directions, points of interest and Ordnance Survey maps, and a ‘walk of the month’ chosen to show the Dales at its best and most beautiful whatever the time of year.
The new website, www.peopleandthedales.org, is the culmination of four years’ work by local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) of taking groups out in the Dales through running the pioneering education and outreach project ‘People and the DALES’.
Through the project 4750 people from disadvantaged urban backgrounds have been given the opportunity to enjoy the health and well-being benefits of spending time in the Yorkshire Dales countryside, often for the first time.
Dave Tayler, deputy director at YDMT, said: “We are very proud of what we’ve achieved through People and the DALES so far and hope that the new website will be a valuable tool for groups and individuals to use for many years to come, acting as a lasting legacy of the project. As well as being packed with useful information, the website also features lots of lovely photos which we hope will really inspire people to get out into the Yorkshire Dales.”
The website was unveiled at a recent celebration event held at Bradford’s Cartwright Hall Art Gallery to discover exactly how the participants, including homeless support projects, young carers, black and Asian minority ethnic groups, refugees and people with learning difficulties or physical disabilities, have benefitted from taking part in the project.
During the course of the event, guests witnessed the unveiling of the new website and heard first-hand accounts of the life-changing impact the project has had on some of the participants, many of whom had not previously had the confidence to access and enjoy the countryside on their doorstep.
Through activities such as dry stone walling, farming and conservation, gardening, arts and crafts or simply a relaxing walk, individuals from traditionally hard-to-reach groups have gained new skills and experiences, forged new friendships and often developed a passion for the great outdoors.
Commenting on the benefits of being involved in the People and the DALES project, Kate Ferguson, Advocacy Support Worker at Solace, a Leeds’-based charity which provides psychotherapy, complementary therapies and advocacy support to the survivors of persecution and exile living in the Yorkshire and Humber region, said: “A day in the Dales is worth hours and hours of counselling”.
Dave Tayler added: “It was a very positive and emotional event highlighting the powerful impact of the project particularly on people’s health and well-being. It was also a chance to explore possibilities for the future with our friends and partners, as we develop the project in the future to widen and increase these health benefits.’’
The project has been supported by many partners including Access to Nature, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Fields Studies Council and Yorkshire Dales Society.
Natural England, who awarded £197,000 to the project in 2009 as part of its Access to Nature programme (funded by £28.75m from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme), is one of the project’s biggest advocates.
Elizabeth Holdsworth, Access to Nature Grants Adviser, commented: “It was such a positive experience to be involved in the recent evaluation day for People and the DALES and see the launch of their new website, which is an excellent resource. People and the DALES have a well-deserved reputation for delivering quality experiences for everyone involved and this is no exception. I hope that it will be used by many different groups and individuals to explore the wonderful Yorkshire Dales.”