Young Rangers connect with the Dales

November 16, 2020

Giving young people the opportunity to experience the outdoors is something we are passionate about at YDMT.

We work with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority on their Young Rangers programme to provide regular practical conservation activities for groups of young people aged 11 to 16.

These are based in the South, West and North of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and each meets once a month to take part in some practical work in and around the local area.

Benji Grundy tells us what he has been up to as part of the scheme.

For almost two years now, I have been a Yorkshire Dales Young Ranger. I have done many different tasks across the Dales, such as building owl boxes, learning about wildflower meadows, planting sphagnum moss, looking for red squirrels and tree planting.

One of my first days was at Smardale Nature Reserve, where we helped surface the new car park and make it wheelchair accessible. We also looked out for red squirrels. Smardale is one of the few places where red squirrels didn’t need to be reintroduced. Though numbers had fallen, they never completely died out there.

Another time I was at a goat farm in Ravenstonedale, where they make soap and cheese from the goat’s milk. They also have wildflower meadows, which we learnt about.

We also planted sphagnum moss and cotton grass on the top of Buckden Pike with the Yorkshire Peat Partnership on International Bog Day last year. This was to help to preserve the peat bogs found on the summit.

Last autumn we did hazel coppicing in the woodland next to the River Lune at Killington. Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management, with evidence of the practice happening in woodlands as early as prehistoric times.

Towards the end of last year, we did drystone walling in Arkengarthdale, repairing walls which had been severely damaged by that year’s heavy flooding over the summer.

And in December we were at Aysgarth, in Freeholders Wood, cutting back vegetation before having a campfire and hot chocolate, as well as playing some woodland games.

This year started off busy for the group too.

In the New Year, we were planting trees at Crake Trees Manor, near Crosby Ravensworth, and working with Crosby Ravensworth Parish Tree Group to plant different species of tree across the farm.

After lockdown, we started up again with a butterfly survey and woodland management at Cleatop, near Settle. We used the What3Words app to locate and check bird boxes that had been put up a few years previously. The butterfly survey wasn’t as successful, as we only spotted three!

Another day over the summer holidays saw us maintaining paths at Aysgarth Falls, after they had been damaged by heavy rainfall.

A few weeks later we were back at Aysgarth, again in the Freeholders Wood, this time doing a dormouse survey. We were looking for hazelnuts that showed they had been nibbled by dormice, before doing a leaf litter survey.

I’m really looking forward to getting out more over the coming months!

About Young Rangers

The new North and West Young Rangers groups are funded by BIG Lottery Fund through the Green Futures partnership programme led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. Green Futures aims to empower and support young people in the Yorkshire Dales and the surrounding area to become more involved, aware and connected to the fantastic natural environment that’s right on their doorstep.

Green Futures is part of Our Bright Future, a £33 million programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of eight organisations which is led by The Wildlife Trusts. Our Bright Future aims to tackle three big challenges facing society today – a lack of social cohesion, a lack of opportunities for young people and vulnerability to climate change.

The Young Rangers group based in the South of the National Park is being part-funded through Stories in Stone, an ambitious four-year programme of conservation and community projects concentrated on the Ingleborough area developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership. The scheme is led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.