May 2013 sees the deadline for a Heritage Lottery Bid by a new partnership of organisations in the eastern Vale of Pickering. This will be for an ambitious project known as ‘Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale’, centred on the Carrs of the Hertford and Derwent near Scarborough. Over twenty organisations are looking to team up for a £2million five-year programme of projects which will see real benefits for the heritage, for communities and for people in this overlooked landscape.
As part of the final preparations for our Landscape Partnership Scheme Stage One bid we hosted a site visit for two development officers from Yorks and Humber HLF. We set out to explain the subtleties of the Vale’s natural assets and cultural heritage, the little-appreciated threats it faces and most of all the tremendous opportunities posed by the fortuitous alignment of diverse public / private development plans and community aspirations. Not a lot to ask in a day’s tour round an area of over 100 square kilometres, 24 communities and some 20-30,000 people!
As I write I am still reeling from masterminding the packed itinerary today for the two staff from Heritage Lottery Fund. I think the march up the Seamer Carr landfill, with panoramic views over Star Carr and ‘Palaeolake Flixton’ was an inspiring start. What a contrast to clamber past the waste stacks and earth-movers to the summit of this artificial hill and experience the unique panoramic vista which this restored site could afford; and to have an expert archaeologist from the Star Carr dig team to explain the landscape history and significance was just spot on.
Over twenty people were involved in the day, either part of the entourage or posted at various way-points on the tour, to impress upon them the rare and hidden qualities of the Vale of Pickering landscape. From Seamer Carr we went through Eastfield for The Dell LNR and glimpse of Middle Deepdale development, followed by Folkton Bridge to see the River Hertford, the dramatic peat shrinkage and experience the open vistas of The Carrs before adjourning for lunch at Betton Farm visitor centre, by way of a driving tour of Folkton, Flixton, Seamer and East Ayton. Thar worked up an appetite!
After lunch we took a walk round Betton Farm’s geological SSSI quarry with its Jurassic coral reefs and sea urchin fossils. Our geology explained the rocks while warm sunshine brought out peacock butterflies and skittering hunting spiders over the violets and cowslips on the quarry floor. Another quarry lay in store for the final tour, the gravel workings on Wykeham Estate, with partners from Hanson’s aggregates and Wykeham Estate explaining the long term restoration plans and from Natural Retreats company enthusing about the high-spec sustainable tourism development they are working on with in a restored part of the workings. It was great to see so many key partners in the bid come together and share their passion and vision for Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale.