As a Landscape Partnership project develops it is commonplace for the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to pay a visit and on Wednesday 22nd January a small team from HLF came to the South West Peak. The purpose of their visit was to find out more about the area, the people involved in the project and the issues driving the Landscape Partnership, whilst offering advice on how best to progress the project.
They were given a short briefing and overview of the project by team members before embarking on a whistle stop tour of the Roaches and Rockhall Cottage. The plan was to walk onto the Roaches ridge to get a flavour of the SWP landscape. Unfortunately, the weather closed in which prevented the group reaching the ridge to gain the views but the mist did add to an atmospheric visit. The walk was led by Peak District National Park Authority Area Ranger Andy McGraw, who was assisted by local farmer and South West Peak author Sheila Hine, local historians and writers Eric Wood and Margaret Black and a team of people representing the key partners involved in the project.
A number of issues were discussed on the shortened route to local landmark the Princess of Teck’s chair, where the group were able to get a view of the Leekfrith valley. These included partnership working, pressures and threats to the farming community, threats to the cultural heritage, historic landscape and wildlife of the South West Peak, and visitors to the area. On arrival at Rockhall Cottage the group were met by volunteers from the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust who treated everyone to tea and a superb selection of home baked cakes.
The visit concluded following the short drive back to Marsh Farm where the group undertook a feedback session. The Partnership was advised to think carefully about prioritisation of issues considering the size of the project area and the multitude of issues faced. Although the Partnership will be requesting around £2,000,000 in funding this is not a great deal of money when spread out across a large landscape such as the South West Peak.