d12054-winskillWe often take the landscape around us for granted. We might appreciate a view for its beauty, but not think to consider the natural and historical processes, or the everyday work and care that goes into managing and sustaining it. Working The View explores this relationship between the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and its guardians; bringing to light the work that goes on to protect, enhance and make a living from it.

This book is the result of a brother and sister collaboration between photographer Mark and writer Sarah. It features 40 participants who have shared the stories behind their favourite views. Each person was asked to suggest three viewpoints which have specific meaning for them. From these, a broad spread of locations was selected from throughout the National Park and its potential extension to the north and west.

Mark spent a year and a half photographing these views, often returning to the same areas again and again to ensure each view was captured in the best season and light conditions available.

Sarah interviewed each participant to discover the reasons behind their choice and learn about the work they do in the landscape. Each interview was recorded and then written up into a coherent ‘piece’, using the words of the participants. As a result each interview reads as if spoken and retains the ‘voice’ of the participant.

We could never hope to showcase every voice and every role in the National Park, but we have brought together a range of individuals; from farmers and landowners, to people employed by organisations working to protect the landscape. The result is a unique tour of the National Park area, given by the people who make the landscape what it is today and who are working to ensure it is protected into the future.

Working the View was supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

41 Grassington sunset

d12002-grassington-panorama41-Sarah-ButlerSarah Butler – Writer

Our grandparents moved to Grassington when I was six and it has been a home from home for our whole family ever since. We are all keen walkers and I have many happy memories of walking in the area. This is a view from one of my favourite walks, from Grassington along High Lane, through the old hospital site and back along Edge Lane. It is taken from the footpath between Edge Lane and High Lane, looking over the valley to Barden Moor. I love the patterns of the drystone walls, and the two knolls which were once coral reefs.

I write and think a lot about place and what it is that makes us feel like we belong to a particular area. For me, people are as important in that equation as any aesthetic feature. Working the View has opened my eyes to just how many people are involved in caring for the Yorkshire Dales National Park. I can now look at a landscape which I’ve been walking in for years and see the evidence of that attention and work, in the walls and the fences, the animals, the paths, the peat, the rivers, and much more.

I conducted the interviews for Working the View over a period of eighteen months. Mark would meet me off the train from London with a carefully worked out itinerary, an envelope stuffed with maps, and keys for the hire car, and I would head off into the hills. I visited farms, offices and people’s homes, often driving miles across the moors without seeing another person. After the bustle and hurry of London life it was a genuine treat, an experience which has taken me to new areas of the Dales and deepened my own connection to the area. I would return to the city not only armed with stories about sheep farming, peat restoration, water management, and the intricacies of propagating juniper, but also with that lightness and serenity that the Dales offers its visitors.

It has been an immense privilege to speak to people who are passionate about this part of the world, and whose day-to-day existence is bound up with the landscape in a whole range of different ways. Many times I’ve sat listening to someone explain what it is that makes the Yorkshire Dales National Park special and have been struck by the poetry of their language. I have kept each text in the book in the words of the participant, merely editing and reordering to make a coherent ‘piece’, because I wanted to capture these different voices and the passion behind the words.

I hope that reading these stories will add an extra dimension to Mark’s beautiful photographs, and offer a unique insight into the people involved in helping sustain this very special landscape.

42 Muker from Kisdon Scar

d12061-muker-515142-Mark-ButlerMark Butler – Photographer

This project has been a great experience for me, it has offered a change of perspective in the way I work. Previously I would go out looking for locations I think will ‘work’, based on the conditions/season/weather in which I found them. For this project I was provided with the locations, so I needed to think much more how to make them work as images, when they would look at their best, the direction of the light, and so on.

Most locations were provided as written descriptions, so the first stage was to visit these spots. Whilst there I would look for foreground interest to provide depth to the image, work out a good composition, decide what sun direction would make the image work best and therefore what time of day and season I needed to try to take the photograph. Other considerations were whether the image would look best when the heather was out, trees were in leaf or bare, or when snow was on the ground. Once I had my time frame, I then kept a very close eye on the weather to identify times when the conditions would be favourable for taking photographs. I didn’t always get it right, but when I did, it was a magical experience.

There is something about being out and about at dawn which it is hard to describe. The struggle out of bed, driving to and climbing up to the location, whilst an effort, don’t seem too bad once you’ve managed the initial push into consciousness, and there is always the excitement of seeing the sun rise to spur you on. For me there is always the panic that I’ll get there too late, sometimes justified if I haven’t allowed enough time, but mostly just because it gets lighter earlier than I expect it to. After the rush to get to the location and set up, there is then usually plenty of time to stand back, admire the view and the effects of the ever-changing weather and light upon it. I have spent many a happy hour in these locations just watching the scene change until I decided the time was right to capture the image.

Photographing these locations has often been a challenge. It can be hard to take a viewpoint which holds personal memories and experiences for the participant and turn it into an image which will be appealing for someone without those same associations. The problem can be that whilst you stand and observe a view, you take in the whole panorama and your experience includes elements which cannot be captured in a picture: the wind against your face, the sounds and smells around you. David Butterworth’s comment that no matter how good a photographer is, they can’t capture the essence of the place is very true. I can only capture a section of the landscape at a moment in time and in the way I view it. Only by visiting these locations will you get the true experience which the participants describe in the accompanying texts.

When you know the Dales as well as I do, it is very hard to pick a single favourite view. I have a soft spot for the Grassington viewpoint chosen by Sarah (for the same reasons), for the Littondale view chosen by Roger Gibson (memories of walking in the area), and now a great number of the viewpoints featured in this book (for the memories of capturing them), but I have chosen a view in Swaledale here. For this project I was based just outside the southern edge of the National Park, an hour and a half drive from Swaledale. Though I visit the area less regularly than other parts of the Park, I always look forward to going there, and it always seems like a holiday when I do.

This project has been a great opportunity for me to discover new viewpoints and see dawn or dusk through the seasons. I have discovered a wealth of fantastic locations and have enjoyed every outing. I hope my images have done some justice to the fantastic landscapes to be found in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and hope they inspire you to go out and experience them for yourselves.

1 Whernside from Ingleborough

D12037-IngleboroughSteve-HastieSteve Hastie – Area Ranger / Project Manager Three Peaks, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

I used to do short term contracts for English Nature before I came to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. I was doing estate work on the nature reserve, so things like walling repairs, fencing repairs, thistle control, ragwort control. I was always up on Ingleborough, so I kept seeing this view of Whernside. Whernside from most angles isn’t particularly spectacular. From the north it’s just like a big lump, but as you go up Ingleborough it starts to take on a bit of a character. And as you come further round onto the summit, that view twists again and it looks like a bit of a peak. It’s a false impression: you’re actually looking along the edge of that scar where it falls away. So it’s not the actual peak you’re looking at but it gives the impression of it.

This view of Whernside reminds me of a gentle swell coming into a beach, just before it starts to rise and turn. I can almost imagine it moving, which is quite a strange thing for a hill, but in my mind that’s how it’s got most character.

It’s taken from High Lot – a large allotment that belongs to Natural England. It’s allotted land, and a lot of Ingleborough is common land as well. Ingleborough Common is split into two, between Ingleton and Clapham – there are Ingleton graziers and there are Clapham graziers, and they each have rights to graze so many sheep and cattle over the course of a year. A lot of this area has been overgrazed, subsequent to the Second World War, but heather’s starting to come back now the grazing’s under management. This field used to be quite rough grassland, but now there are these little patches of heather; it sort of breaks it up. The path runs just to the left of here. It’s part of the Three Peaks network. As well as Area Ranger, I’m Project Manager for the Three Peaks Project. It’s the second project of that name. The first one was in the 1980s and ‘90s; that was about doing a lot of path construction and habitat restoration work to provide some sort of sustainable network. It was the worst network in the UK at that time. With this peat, when it gets worn it gets really soft, and then water gets in it and scours it, so people walk off to the side, and it just gets worse and worse, and paths get wider and wider. Lots of work was done building paths, so people had something decent to walk on, and by building paths it allowed the surrounding vegetation to recover. In 2008 we started looking at a second project to raise money to get another person to do maintenance work, to make the network sustainable. So we look at engaging with people who come and use the area, to try and encourage them to help us look after it, essentially through some sort of donation or giving.

As Area Ranger, a third of my time is woodlands and species; a third of my time is communities – which could be anything from speaking to a local councillor, a farmer, a WI group; a third of my time is access; and then a third of my time is the Three Peaks Project! It’s very varied, very satisfying.

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2 Threshfield Moor

D12007-Threshfield-MoorMark-HancockMark Hancock – Landowner

There are about 1000 acres of moorland at Threshfield. It’s predominantly heather, and we’re doing a huge amount of work at the moment to improve its habitat and environment. There are only 459 heather moors in the UK, which amount to 75% of the world’s heather, so it’s an endangered species in a way. We need to protect this environment in order for a range of birdlife to survive and thrive. Predominantly these are ground nesting birds including grouse; you can’t breed them, you just create the right habitat for them. Carrying out this heather regeneration work to create a productive grouse moor has enabled us to create employment for two gamekeepers. Rural employment is a big issue for me. Without it, more and more young people will move away from the countryside.

I’ve lived in the Dales for 16 years. For a time my wife was Chief Executive of the National Park, so we have a strong affinity to the area. We bought this land off a good friend of mine in 2009. He bought the moor in 1961 and looked after and enjoyed it for 48 years. I have another moor in Littondale and he really liked what we were doing there in terms of regeneration. He offered me the chance to buy the land in order to keep the spirit and the philosophy of the moor intact, and in tune with the way he’s been looking after it for all those years. So I’m endeavouring to do that.

My background is in commercial property development, but rural regeneration has become one of my passions because of where I live. We’ve just brought back to life some beautiful barns just outside Settle on the A65 which we have called The Courtyard, with retail units on the ground floor and a Brasserie on the first floor. We’ve created 25 new jobs, and the food production that’s going on up on the moor here will feed into the restaurant, as well as into the pub we have brought back to life near where I live. Locally sourced and produced food is also really important to me.

I chose this view because there’s a bit of rarity in having the water in the picture. It’s a predominantly limestone-based environment, so we rarely see standing water. I also love the fact that at any time of day, in whatever weather, you get the reflection of the sky.

The biggest residential cluster in the area is Grassington; I particularly love this view because while you don’t see Grassington you know it’s there. So although we’re in a wilderness up here, there’s a tangible connection with cars and people and bustle and shops. I think that one of the things the National Park was set up to create in 1947 was to allow people to enjoy themselves and come to the Park. It’s not a closed space – we want people to live and to work in the Park; we want visitors to come because we want the shops to thrive and people to succeed. But if it’s done overtly we tend to frown upon it because we get honeypots like those in the Lakes. Here, we know it’s all going on and yet it’s absolutely not getting in the way at all. It’s that perfect balance between allowing society to function without spoiling the countryside. For me personally, it makes that view across there very special.

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3 Ingleborough from Twistleton Scar End

d11033-ingleboroughLouise-SmithLouise Smith – Lead Adviser, Land Management, Natural England

I’ve worked in this area for about 11 years now. When I came up here I didn’t know anything about the Dales. I’d moved up from Staffordshire and Hereford, which is a very different type of landscape. From day one Ingleborough just stood out. It was always my main route coming along the A65, out of Leeds, or the Lakes; making my way back to the Dales I would see this iconic shape on the horizon – it just always made me feel like I was back where I wanted to be.

Over the years of working up here, I’ve worked in the farming and wildlife team for the National Park. I’ve worked on the Limestone Country Project which covered a lot of the European designated areas, which Ingleborough is part of. I’m now back with Natural England, as a lead adviser working on environmental stewardship. I couldn’t believe my luck when they put me back in this area – I could have been sent anywhere. It was as if I was meant to be here; this place kept bringing me back.

It doesn’t matter whether the sun’s shining, it’s tipping down with rain, or Ingleborough’s got snow on it; that hill, even if it was covered in cloud, would still be amazing. It reminds me of my years working here and all the characters that have shaped it in their own way.

The characters that make this landscape living and breathing are the farmers, the farmers’ wives, anybody that lives in that area; they are part of that landscape. They have such admiration for it, and you can’t help but have admiration for them wanting to preserve and work on such a beautiful landscape. I think I’ve grown by working with them and learning from them, which I feel very privileged to have done.

The area’s so diverse, it was one of the hardest places to get into the correct management. It’s a delicate balance between the farming side and what we want to see for the environment and nature. We tried to achieve the correct balance through experience gained from other areas but mostly by stopping and listening to people that know this site. The people that you really listen to are the people that work this site every day, and that’s the farmers. Of course they need this hillside. They utilise the more green in-bye areas when they’re lambing, but later on in the year they need their sheep to push up onto the hillside, because they need to shut their meadows so that they can cut the hay. It also makes their stock hardy, but more importantly it completes the unique upland farming cycle that helps shape this precious landscape.

This whole area, the Yorkshire Dales, is like one big family. Yes, some of the time you have to work a little bit harder to be accepted. But as soon as you know that you’re on the same common ground; the same wavelength; and you’re not there to preach at them and tell them to change their ways; you’re in partnership with those people because you have the same aims, then boy oh boy that door’s open then. You can be in one of the most remote dales that you can get, in some of the bleakest weather, but you never worry because you know that if something ever happened, you could just walk down that farm track and knock on that door and somebody would be there to welcome you.

By working with different farmers, particularly round Ingleborough or Chapel-le-dale, you’d find these secret nooks and crannies on this hillside – areas where you just think, ‘crikey, I bet nobody’s been up here for years’. You could be on your own for hours and you wouldn’t feel lonesome, you’d just feel as if you’re in another world. I know I make it sound so romantic, but there’s never a day when you’re out on that site, or you’re looking at that view, from any direction, that you don’t have a smile on your face. Honestly, you can have the worst day in the office and once you get out there it’s forgotten.

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4 Wild Boar Fell at dawn

d12046-wild-boar-fellMatt-NealeMatt Neale – Area Ranger, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

This is on one of my local runs. I get the train up to Kirkby Stephen early in the morning, run over Wild Boar Fell and back home, which is about 12 miles. I do it in all weathers: in the light and in the dark, on my own or with a couple of us. I experience it in all sorts of weather conditions and light, and there’s just my own feelings that go with that: whether I’m struggling on the run or actually going really well – that all adds to the atmosphere up in that area. Even though I’ve been over there quite a lot, sometimes it just makes you stop and look, and think ‘this is incredible’.

I do a lot of mountain, or ultra-distance running. I’ve done quite a few hundred-milers. What I like about them is that you experience all the dark and all the light of a 24-hour period, and you just feel really in touch with what’s happening in the environment. That’s quite a big thing.

This area is actually outside of the National Park at the moment. It’s been decided that this, and a larger area to the north and to the west of it, qualifies to be designated as National Park, so in the next few years I’m sure that will happen. That view is more or less looking into the National Park. It’s a really nice area. It’s great looking down into this bit of the Mallerstang valley: you’ve got the road; you’ve got the railway line; you’ve got the source of the River Eden and the River Ure. It’s a big dividing point for a lot of things. You get views over onto the Howgills; and a really good view of this big massif of land at the top of Wensleydale; the top of Dentdale, and if you like the top of Horton. You can pick out the Three Peaks on a good day.

Of course you’ve got these piles of stones – there are a few trains of thought as to why they may or not be there. There’s a theory that they were built to appear like soldiers on horseback if you’re standing in the valley bottom and looking to launch a bit of an attack. They’re just nice features really, however they got there and whatever the reason behind it.

I’m the Area Ranger for Upper Wensleydale. I spend a lot of my time dealing with access related issues, so primarily that’s to do with people’s enjoyment of the rights of way network. In Upper Wensleydale there are about 150 miles of rights of way that I have to look after. I manage an Access Ranger who helps do that, and I get a bit more involved in the legal issues.

The rest of the time, we’re very much a first point of contact for the rest of the Authority, and we play quite a big part in getting volunteers out and managing volunteers, not just for us but across the Authority. I’m working quite closely with our wildlife conservation team at the moment on a red squirrel project. We’ve got a small population of red squirrels in this area, and it’s just taking a bit of sensitive management. It’s quite a critical time for the red squirrel population here at the moment; it’s right on the borderline of being a sustainable population. I’ve no doubt that in some areas of England red squirrels will get lost over the next 10 or 15 years, and it’s nice to think that we have the chance to do our bit for one of our native species. It would be nice, even if it doesn’t work out here, to be able to turn round and say ‘well, we did the best we could with what we had’.

You do have to be a little bit brutal sometimes. If you’re not careful, you could let email and everybody else’s urgent demands start to take over. What you’ve got to remember is that you haven’t got rights of way, or woodlands, or red squirrels emailing you to say ‘come and spend some time sorting out our problems’.

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5 View over Cray

d11026-cray-view05-Peter-KaticPeter Katic – Ranger, National Trust

As you’re coming from the north, from Bishopdale over Kidstone’s pass, this is the first view of Wharfedale you get; it’s really dramatic. You see Buckden Pike on your left, with these enclosure walls tumbling down the hillside towards Cray. On the other side of the valley you’ve got a similar sort of landscape, but the fields are all hay meadows, not pasture.

The reason I work for the National Trust up here, in this type of property, is that I like the uplands. I like the open space, the open vistas, the ability to walk a long way with no obstructions, the fact you can see where you’re going, the wild aspect of it. In as much as you have wild landscapes in this country, this is a wild landscape, even though it’s totally manmade, and very accessible; everything you see is farmland.

The drystone walls emphasise the wild aspect of the landscape; they draw out the rock that’s there, only just underneath the surface. They bring out that stepped aspect of the landscape too, the geology of what’s called the Yoredale Series, which is a repeating sequence of limestone, sandstone, shale. You can see quite distinct terraces, with steeper slopes in between and occasional rock outcrops. People think that’s manmade, but it’s not, it’s a glacial relic if you like, from the different hardnesses of the rock.

Being a Ranger means doing a lot of practical work: footpath maintenance, fencing, tree-planting, making individual tree guards, woodland creation, wall repair. Walling hasn’t changed much; it’s a link to the past, an ancient craft. It’s been around for thousands of years, just using materials that are around.

This little plantation you can see down in Cray was probably planted in the 1800s. It’s all non-native species – beech trees, sycamore, maple and scotts pine. Maybe it was planted for shelter, maybe because it softens the landscape a bit. We rebuilt this wall on the right, where you can see the saplings, with the help of a group of regular volunteers. It was completely gappy, and falling down. We rebuilt it so we could put in a strip of trees between the road wall and that wall. The Dales is an open landscape, with very few trees – and perhaps we don’t want to change that aspect too much – but if we can get a long strip of trees here it sort of breaks up the wind and gives the farmer’s livestock a bit of shelter.

Another feature of the Yorkshire Dales is the limestone pavement. You can see a small example of it in the foreground here. When the ice retreated after the Ice Age, it left these bare platforms of limestone. Limestone dissolves in rainwater, so over thousands of years the minute cracks you get in limestone enlarge, and what was at one time just a smooth bed of rock breaks into blocks which are called clints. The cracks are called grykes; they can be ten feet or more deep. Within the grykes you get a more woodland type of environment, with damp, shade-loving plants like hearts-tongue fern and meadow sweet. It’s like a little mini-woodland growing in the gryke. On the clints you get a more limestone habitat – with grasses, rock rose, and wild thyme.

My father was Serbian. He lived in a limestone area in Croatia. That landscape’s much bigger and more rugged than this one, but there are similarities. If you walk between Yockenthwaite and Scar House, it has a feel of the landscape that he comes from. His family would have lived in that area for generations – you wonder if a love of one kind of landscape can be in the blood.

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6 Wensleydale from above Castle Bolton

d12032-castle-boltonRichard-SpensleyRichard Spensley – Farmer and Landowner

This view’s my life in a nutshell. I was born at Aysgarth; my family’s farmed here for 150 years. How I visualise it is that the heart of Wensleydale is here. You have the arteries running off it, which are Walden, Bishopdale and the top end of Wensleydale. They come together at Aysgarth and you get this wide expanse of fertility. Further down dale it opens out and levels, but this to me has always been the heart of the dale.

That’s my land in the foreground. We bought 1146 acres of which my daughter had 200, my son has sort of 900, and grazing rights on 2005 acres of heather moor. My son farms the major farm – basically this building and all this land in front. My daughter, they’re on a rented farm but they have the best bit of land that’s out of sight here.

The bottom of the dale here’s always been dairy, but it’s significantly changing now, in that there’s only one dairy farm in sight from here. Every householder used to have a cow – these little buildings are all for two cows. The village here was an old mining village. 60 working people lived in this village – there are only 30 houses now. Majority had a field, a field house as we know them, and right to graze in two big pastures behind.

Farming at the moment in these dales and the upper dales is totally dependent on brown envelopes as we call them – handouts of one kind or another; environmental schemes. They have a place, the money’s required, but if the agriculture was viable on its own, the environment would have been sustained in a satisfactory manner without the money. Before, the only expense virtually was man hours – two horses if you liked and fodder for your cows, which you grew. But that now doesn’t create a living wage. This farm in the ‘40s and ‘50s was carrying seven hired men. The farm now carries one hired man and my son, and they have an increased sheep flock and an increased cattle herd. The sheep flock will be 10% higher, the production off that will be 30% higher, and cattle will be 200% higher. Before, if you were milking 40 cows in that area, 100 gallons of milk was a large farm. When my son-in-law left he had 13-1400 gallon a day going off the same land.

The sheep areas are to a large degree totally dependent on the environmental payments. The lamb production off the uplands, whilst it’s always going to be beneficial to the environment and the sustainability of the visual aspect, is very difficult to sustain financially without outward assistance.

We’ve planted trees in that gully you can see through the Millennium Trust. It’s waste land to a degree, nothing but rabbits and rocks and elm skeletons. We’ve put in a standard mix of a lot of wild cherry, and we’ve included some scots pine – which aren’t on the Millennium Trust menu, but are advantageous to black grouse. We’ve actually had black grouse in there. We lost them a couple of winters back with the frost. They’re quite rare round here.

It is a pleasurable experience doing the work in good weather. I like the achievement of helping the livestock and the land to produce. It’s a total encompassment of the whole aspect of living. It’s bigger than land. It’s the fact as school kids we knew where every bird’s nest was from here to school – we knew what there were.

I think the main thing that crops up in my thoughts is how insignificant our lifetime is, on the whole dale. There are things there that’ll have been worse than brownfield sites in the mining days, and yet they’re grassed over and forgotten. I mean some of these lynchets – the plateaus – from the 8th, 9th, 13th and 14th centuries would have been massive excavations. And then the creation of the mill. And yet there’s nothing there. If you study it as an archaeologist you see bits and pieces, but there’s no significance.

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7 Widdale Great Tarn

d12013-widdale-fellJane-smlJane Le Cocq – Farm Conservation Adviser, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

This view is taken from the top of Widdale Fell, with Dent and Garsdale in the distance. This is a farm I was doing a survey on in 2011. It was a hard slog up to the top of Widdale Fell. It was a really clear day and you could see all the Lakeland hills in the distance. I walked across the top of the fell and suddenly came across this fantastic tarn. The water was really, really still, like a millpond, and I just thought, ‘Wow!’ – it was so unexpected.

The top of Widdale Fell is heath. There was quite a bit of blanket bog: deep peat which supports plants like heather and cotton grass. That was basically what I was going up there to survey. Down here (just behind where the picture’s taken) I found the ruins of a little shepherd’s hut, which had a tiny fireplace in the corner of it – it was really lovely. It is high up there, and you can just imagine them on a night, huddled round a little fire while it’s blowing a gale.

I’m a Farm Conservation Adviser. Part of my job is to help farmers get into Higher Level Stewardship. In order to do that they have to have a survey done of the whole farm. You have to record every feature, whether it’s moorlands, meadows, woods, barns, walls – everything. It’s all done on foot, with a map, just marking down as you walk everything that’s there; the type of habitat; what condition it’s in; and what they could do to improve it for various species.

This farm has been in Stewardship for quite a number of years. Before they went into Stewardship there was a lot of exposed peat, and not much heather, possibly due to the number of sheep being grazed. When sheep graze, the heather, cotton grass and other small herbs get eaten out. It’s replaced by rough grass, so other species miss out. If the peat’s exposed it leads to a lot of erosion, and then you’re losing carbon, because peat bogs are a vital carbon sink – comparable to forests even. The environmental schemes help to compensate farmers for reducing or taking stock off those areas.

Now up here the exposed peat is revegetating. There’s red and black grouse and other moorland birds, lots of diversity in the sward itself: lots of little herbs and rare bog plants like sundews – which sound boring, but they’re not really!

I’ve always been interested in wildlife and nature. I used to be a veterinary nurse. I lived in the Channel Islands for years, but when we came back to Yorkshire I had to do something different, because the veterinary nursing didn’t fit in with family and lifestyle. I retrained, and over quite a few years took a degree in environmental conservation. And then luckily a job came up here, which I got, in 2005.

I grew up in Otley. We had relatives up in the Dales so I knew it really well. I used to be a volunteer here at the Park when I was a teenager – I always dreamt about working in the Dales.

I like everything about my job. I like being able to get out and go to places which you’d normally never get access to. I like the diversity – you do a bit of ecology; a bit of woodland management; I’m really interested in vernacular architecture so that fits in really well too. I like meeting the farmers.

We have a family farm with suckler cows. Because I’ve got a veterinary nursing background, I do all that type of thing, and also paperwork and admin. I love it. It’s also good because in my work I can see things from both sides. My sons are not at all interested in conservation and would be happy with acres and acres of ryegrass!

A lot of my job is trying to illustrate to farmers that they wouldn’t necessarily be losing out economically, and in some cases they might be better off in Stewardship, because they know they’ve got a set income for ten years. And when you show farmers what they’ve got on their farms in terms of biodiversity and historic features, a lot of them are really interested. Often they haven’t seen it in those kinds of terms before – they’ve just seen it as somewhere to raise livestock. But because the species and habitats wouldn’t be there without farmers managing the land for livestock production, it’s important that that management carries on.

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