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articles > 2012

The Wainwright Society response to the proposal to extend the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks – The Lakes to Dales Landscape Designation Project

The Wainwright Society wishes to make the following statement concerning those proposals:

Forty years ago, Alfred Wainwright wrote about The Howgill Fells that, ‘their greatest appeal must ever be to those who love to walk freely ‘over the tops’ and commune with nature in solitude.’ A Wainwright Walks on The Howgill Fells and adjoining fells

Wainwright was in no doubt about the unique scenic quality of The Howgills, neither resembling the craggy mountains of Lakeland nor the rolling upland moorland of the Yorkshire Dales.

Yet, by a quirk of administration, the southern Howgills lay in Yorkshire and were thus included within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, whereas the northern section of this superlative group of hills had no such security. In terms of the quality of the landscape and the geographical compactness of these hills, it makes perfect sense to afford the whole area of The Howgills the protection that National Park status brings.

In that same book, Wainwright wrote of the threats to Borrowdale, the valley between the Whinfell and Whinash ridges. Plans were afoot to flood the valley and create another reservoir in a beautiful, yet remote area between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. In more recent times a plan to site a wind farm on the Whinash ridge was vigorously opposed by The Wainwright Society and others and, happily, the plan was rejected.

It is to guard against such ill-advised developments that The Wainwright Society supports the proposal to include Whinfell and The Howgills within the expanded boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. Similarly, the Mallerstang and Wild Boar Fell areas that lie outside the YDNP should be included within the boundary of that national park. Although this is a remote, lonely landscape Wainwright wrote that, ‘they have attractions in plenty and in wide variety, and hidden beauties revealed only to those who search for them on foot.’ A Wainwright Walks on The Howgill Fells and adjoining fells

These hills deserve to be better known. National Park status would raise the profile of this distinctive landscape and help to bring greater economic benefit to the inhabitants. This is one of the aims of the launch of A Pennine Journey, a 247-mile long distance walk, supported by The Wainwright Society, and which passes through this area from Kirkby Stephen to Garsdale.

With respect to The Orton Fells, this limestone plateau is very well known to thousands of people who have completed Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route. The Wainwright Society strongly supports the designation of National Park status for The Orton Fells. By bringing this area within the YDNP, it would mean that only the lowland Cumbrian coastal fringe and The Vale of York sections of the walk would lie outside of specific national parks. Wainwright was fascinated by the ancient sites of historic interest as well as the varied flora of this upland limestone plateau on this section of his route. This whole area merits the protection that National Park designation brings. Since this whole area lies east of the M6 corridor, it makes sense to include the Orton Fells within an expanded YDNP boundary.

Summary position of The Wainwright Society
In summary, The Wainwright Society strongly supports the designation of the following areas with National Park status in order to protect and enhance the unique qualities of the landscape, the flora and fauna of these specific areas and to bring further economic benefit to the inhabitants through sensitive development of tourism bearing in mind the remote quality of the landscapes.

Whinfell and Borrowdale - To be brought within an extended Lake District National Park boundary
The northern Howgills - To be brought within an extended Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary
Mallerstang and Wild Boar Fell - To be brought within an extended Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary
The Orton Fells - To be brought within an extended Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary

Derek Cockell
Press & Publicity Officer - The Wainwright Society


Have your say
Proposals to extend the existing boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks have been sent to The Secretary of State for the Environment. The Society is supporting the proposals to extend the Yorkshire Dales to take in the northern Howgills, the Orton fells, Mallerstang and Wild Boar Fell and the Lake District to include the Whinfell ridge and the Borrowdale valley.

These were all areas loved by AW. If you wish to show your support then you can register by clicking here