'Timeless': The North York Moors National Park celebrates 70 years

  • In Science
  • 2022-11-27 09:09:24Z
  • By BBC

The North York Moors National Park has inspired residents and tourists for generations.

More than 20,000 people call it home and it attracts more than eight million visitors each year.

Its woodland, forest and moorland, along with 26 miles (41km) of coastline, offer a range of landscapes and vistas.

It is one of 15 National Parks in the UK and it marks its 70th anniversary on 28 November.

To mark this milestone, BBC News asked those who knew it best to explain what made it such a special place.

David Bream, one of an army of volunteers for the North York Moors National Park, said he believed it was a place which allowed people "to get away from things".

"It gives me that sense of timelessness," he said.

With a long love of the park, he applied for a voluntary ranger role in 2014 and now led groups of volunteers and helped train others.

"Sometimes we are out in glorious weather and sometimes we are not. It doesn't make much difference to the feeling people get from volunteering in the park."

The work varied from checking and repairing the vast number of public rights of ways, to chatting to visitors about the park and working on conservation projects, he said.

"You are there to make a difference, you are there to make an improvement."

Mr Bream said he had never known anyone quit volunteering in the National Park because they were not enjoying the role.

He said there was one location in the park he considered his favourite place - a ruined farm on the edge of the moors.

"I sit there sometimes looking down on Bransdale, having my lunch, and I just think about the past, about what happened and how people lived.

"It must have been a very tough life."

For Dr Briony Fox, director of conservation and climate change with the North York Moors National Park Authority, the diverse landscape was what made the park so special.

"Within an hour, you can be in the depths of Dalby Forest and an hour later you can be at the coast or on top of the moors," she said.

Dr Fox's role involved working with landowners in the park, who owned the majority of its 554 sq miles (1,436 sq km), to help support them to manage that land in a way that was nature-friendly.

However, it was not all about conservation and preservation, she said.

"We are very much a living and working landscape.

"There is a balance between what tourism can offer and what people visiting the park can do and ensuring there are still those opportunities for people to live and work here."

Dr Fox said her favourite place in the park depended on her mood.

"I love being at the top of Boulby Cliff, looking down into Staithes. You've got this beautiful historic fishing village, you've got this fantastic coast.

"Sometimes, I just love being out on top of the open moor and just feeling that sense of almost insignificance, because you are just this little dot in this mass expanse of heather."

She added it was the long history of the people who had farmed and owned land in the park for generations and the new ideas and thoughts from people coming in which also helped make the park special.

"There's something for everyone here," she said.

Mary Jane Alexander, the North York Moors National Park's youth engagement officer, said she worked with a variety of children from outside and within the park.

"That could be young people disengaged from education, right through to those who are struggling for whatever reason. But equally, we work with those who want to do their bit for nature."

Ms Alexander said the schemes the park ran helped build confidence, developed teamwork and aided well-being.

"It is massively about awe and wonder," she said.

"For a lot of young people we bring out, just being in that green place is a massive thing."

Ms Alexander, who grew up in Scarborough, said her parents had instilled in her a connection to nature, adding that working with children in this way enabled her to give something back.

The North York Moors National Park is also one of the best places in the country to see the stars, due to low light pollution and clear horizons.

Ms Alexander said stargazing was one of the many things children could experience on some of the residential courses on offer in the park.

"To see their faces when they see so many stars for the first time and a shooting star, honestly the eruption of shouting and screaming," she said.

Having spent a lot of time at Runswick Bay in her childhood, Ms Alexander said that was her favourite place, adding that it had a "lot of happy memories".

"It's such a lovely place: the Cleveland Way, walking down through the valley onto the beach or walking from the top of the bank down and seeing this vast bay in front of you."

Childhood memories were what Ellie Corbett, who grew up near York, said she believed made the North York Moors National Park so special to her.

"It was somewhere we used to come a lot when we were younger with the family. We would come on days out and go camping."

After leaving school, Ms Corbett worked in the hospitality industry, but said she was inspired to become an apprentice countryside ranger in the National Park after spending time abroad.

"I lived in New Zealand for a year and I think it was massively inspiring there, how they put so much emphasis on conservation," she said.

The National Park ranger apprentices gained practical work experience alongside academic qualifications, she explained.

"Now, I get to come and work here and I think it is just amazing to look after the places that mean a lot to me."

While it was hard to pick one favourite place, Ms Corbett said the Hole of Horcum, a spectacular natural amphitheatre 400ft (122m) deep and more than half a mile (0.8km) across, would be her choice.

According to local folklore, the "hole" was formed when a giant called Wade picked up and threw earth at someone with whom he was arguing, creating the massive hollow in the landscape.

Ms Corbett said: "I think it is such a beautiful place to begin with. It has all the moorland - and when the heather is out it is amazing,

"At all times of the year, it is very impressive. Then, there's the folklore behind it."

She added that the advantage of working in the North York Moors National Park was always discovering new places.

"Then I can take my family and partner back and show them, because you are always finding somewhere new."

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