Revitalising Redesdale launches five-year, £2.8m programme

The Revitalising Redesdale partnership at the Ridsdale Ironworks.
The Revitalising Redesdale partnership at the Ridsdale Ironworks.

As one major heritage project on the north Northumberland coast ends, another Lottery-funded scheme in the west is launched.

The three-year, £1.8million Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership Scheme drew to a close at the end of last year.

Ridsdale Engine House.

Ridsdale Engine House.

But now, the Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership has received a confirmed grant of £1.7million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of Redesdale.

It will deliver a five-year programme of 12 interlinking projects which will seek the restoration of historic monuments, conservation and enhancement of wildlife habitats, and provide opportunities for local people to get involved in archaeological and practical conservation projects.

There will be £670,000 of improvements across the river Rede and its tributaries to improve water quality to support the nationally important population of freshwater pearl mussels and undertake habitat improvements and measures to address pollution.

Working across Redesdale, including in partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), 760 hectares of peatland will be restored and 55 hectares of hay meadow.

The Battlefields Trust will lead a pioneering community research project to recreate the medieval landscape at Otterburn to more accurately identify the site of the 1388 moonlit battle between Harry Hotspur and the Earl of Douglas.

There are also plans for a significant investment in the valley’s rights of way network, including the restoration of the historic Smoutel Ford.

HLF funding will support the employment of a small team to help deliver the £2.8million programme, through a special partnership with three organisations – Natural England, Northumberland National Park and Northumberland Wildlife Trust – hosting the posts.

This summer, the iconic Ridsdale Engine House will be conserved and consolidated through the project. This was once part of a 19th-century ironworks which provided the iron used to build the Tyne Bridge.

Working with the Redesdale Society, the team will also be delivering a local history project to learn more about the ironworks and provide new interpretation to tell its story.

Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “The National Park is an important part of the historic heart of the North East and is home to a number of the county’s ancient monuments.

“It will be great to see some of these in Redesdale brought back to their former glory through the generosity of the National Lottery and how, over time, this investment will help to revitalise the communities and rural economy within the area.”

Brad Tooze, area manager for Natural England, added: “Redesdale is a beautiful and inspiring landscape. Its relative remoteness, rich natural history and vibrant communities all add to its special and distinctive character.

“National Lottery funding and strong partnership-working will deliver major habitat improvements to peatland, hay meadows and the river, alongside a range of opportunities for local people and visitors to the area to become directly involved in the important work, including surveying, research and learning new technical and practical skills.”

Mike Pratt, chief executive of Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a fantastic chance to involve local people in recording and finding out more about the hidden natural history of this amazing part of Northumberland.

“Local communities have forged a unique and close relationship with the Redesdale landscape for centuries and now they will help ensure the wildlife of the valley and hills are properly recognised and that important habitats, for a wide range of species of birds, mammals, plants and insects are preserved to ensure they thrive.

“People are at the core of the conservation of the Redesdale wildlife network and this project will make sure they develop opportunities to help make nature resilient well into the future, whilst underlining how important the natural world is to local communities and everyone.”