Natural England has received an earmarked grant of £1.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund through its Landscape Partnership programme for the Revitalising Redesdale project, which aims to restore almost 1,600 hectares of land and reconnect people with the landscape’s heritage.
Redesdale lies in the far north west of Northumberland and is an area of spectacular natural beauty and tranquillity. It encompasses part of Northumberland National Park, Kielder Water and Forest Park and stretches north to the Scottish border.
It has a rich natural and cultural heritage, immortalised in the Border Ballads, and has seen conflict since the time of the Roman Empire. The valley has served as an important route into Scotland for millennia and yet still has a population of fewer than 2,000 people, with a struggling economy and its unique heritage largely overlooked.
Natural England has set out to change that, as part of the Border Uplands Partnership. The Revitalising Redesdale project has been awarded Development Funding of £115,700 to progress plans with the aim of applying for a full grant at a later date. Natural England will work with the partnership, which includes Northumberland National Park Authority, Tyne Rivers Trust, Ministry of Defence and local parish councils.
Brad Tooze, Natural England Northumbria area manager, said: “Redesdale is home to some incredibly important natural and cultural assets, including the rare freshwater pearl mussel.
This bid has been put together with a wide range of partners and the voices of local residents. We are delighted to have been successful with this stage of the process and look forward to developing the Revitalising Redesdale project further in order that this wonderful landscape, its unique heritage and resilient communities can be protected.”
The project will seek to restore some 1,600 hectares of land; work with farmers and land owners to help protect the River Rede; and 50 volunteers will help to monitor and tackle non-native invasive species. The built environment will also benefit thanks to repairs and management plans for Scheduled Ancient Monuments and listed buildings.
The project also aims to reconnect people with the landscape’s heritage. Those currently using Redesdale as a route to Scotland will be encouraged to become visitors, with awareness and engagement opportunities which will tell the story of this embattled area. Residents and land managers will receive training, and new business and training opportunities will be developed.
Andrew Miller, head of programmes and conservation at Northumberland National Park, said: “Redesdale lies right at the heart of the National Park and includes a wealth of wildlife and historic treasures and a community immensely proud of their heritage. Revitalising Redesdale will provide a great opportunity for local people to work with all of the partners to secure both their heritage and their future."