New horizons at National Parks conference

Two weeks ago I was so proud of our National Park, our staff and our Members.  Somebody up there was looking after us when our Park got, by rota, the hosting of the UK National Parks NATIONAL conference!  And, because I am the Member Champion for ‘promoting understanding’, I got to work with our fab staff on the planning and organising.

Welcoming delegates to the UK National Parks Conference 2019

Our biggest challenge was to show off our wonderful, splendid, amazing National Park without turning the two days into a ‘full on’ tourist experience.  Let me explain.  We had representatives (Chairs, Members and CEOs) from all over the UK’s 15 National Parks: four delegates per Park, plus speakers and civil servants and writers and partners– over 100 delegates in total – and we all wanted to learn and talk ‘National Parks’;  that’s why we chose the theme ‘new horizons!’

So the way we did this was to offer 10 different all-day visits; each visit looked at the issues and a particular thing that happens in the Park, such as farms, quarrying, caving, cycling, and so on. 

(Images clockwise from top left: on their various tours delegates walked to Smardale Gill Viaduct in the western extension area of the National Park, had a thrilling underground adventure, were shown around Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery by business owner Stu Taylor, and enjoyed a behind-the-scenes visit to Swinden Quarry, thanks to the conference’s headline partners, Tarmac)

I had the privilege of co-hosting the visit to Hawes, which was on the theme of community sustainability.  Obviously, when we planned it, we expected former National Park Authority Member John Blackie to host it, but it turned out his legacy did him proud.

So we learnt about the community ownership and support of a petrol station, a post office, a library, a police station and a bus service.  We looked at how the Wensleydale Creamery brings in the tourists and creates local employment – lots of it!  We saw how, even with goodwill, not everything flies when we visited Gayle Mill.  And we finished at our lovely Dales Countryside Museum to hear about how a small, remote community sustains an award-winning museum.  We started and ended the day with a ride on the Settle-Carlisle railway – what was not to like.

(Images clockwise from top left: our tour to Hawes included a visit to Wensleydale Creamery, while other delegates summited Ingleborough, called in at the Kirkby Lonsdale Community Interest Company office, and enjoyed a sheep dog demo from Richard Fawcett)

Then it was back to the splendid Coniston Hotel for a great dinner, and the presentation of our Platinum Awards for both National Park and individual endeavours.  We also had briefings from the English, Scottish and Welsh governments on day 1, and three major debates on day 3 – on the environment, health and well being, and engaging young people.

(Images clockwise from top left: our conference session speakers on day 3 were Tony Juniper (Chair, Natural England) on the natural environment, Dr William Bird on health and well-being, and Georgina Umney on engaging young people. Meanwhile, Xander Johnston received the New Horizons young person’s award (seen here with Authority Chairman Carl Lis) for his passionate championing of Cairngorms National Park’s biodiversity)

So a very full-on 48 hours (only 48? really?) and a gauntlet thrown down to Exmoor National Park Authority to whom the baton has been passed for 2021!

What’s on: UCI World Championships

Cyclists whizzing past on the road with many spectators, as part of the Tour de France

Interested in the bike race that will soon be gripping the attention of Yorkshire this September?

You can find below all of the special events that will be happening in the Yorkshire Dales National Park to celebrate the UCI World Championships. These include community activities that you and your family can be involved in, extraordinary land art that’s definitely worth a photo, and so much more.


Community Fun Day in Bainbridge – Sunday 29 September from 9am to 5pm

The community in Bainbridge have arranged for a family fun day on the village green, right on the route of the Men’s elite race on Sunday. Activity includes pop-up stalls, inflatables, music and entertainment and a big screen to watch the race!


Community Fun day in Carperby – Thursday 26th September from 11am to 2pm

The people of Carperby are coming together on the village green for a ‘bring and share’ picnic. About 20 villagers have been knitting little UCI jerseys to form bunting and decorating the village cross in UCI colours. They’re asking people to come dressed completely in one of the UCI Rainbow colours. There will also be Land Art on the football pitch which will include a UCI jersey and the name of the village. The race will also be shown on a big screen, and the riders are expected in Carperby around 12.45pm.


Community Fun day in Hawes – Sunday 29 September from 10am to 6pm

Hawes are having a Family Fun Day on the Hawes Community Fields as the Men’s Elite Road Race passes by! They’ve arranged for a bar, disco, cake stalls, bouncy castle, craft stalls, face painting, body glitter and sports!

Dales Countryside Museum (Hawes) Activity day – Saturday 28 September

There will be film screenings, family activities and workshops, and open air cinema on the evening of Saturday 28 September at the Dales Countryside Museum. The day will be organised by Stage 1 Cycles. During the day the museum will be hosting cycle related activities for families such as make-your-own bike handle bar streamers.

Buttertubs Pass Land Art – Sunday September 29 at 11:15am

Yorkshire based artist Adrian Riley and student designer Emily Vitty were chosen by Richmondshire District Council to design, create and install the land art close to the Buttertubs Pass.


Caravan – Sunday September 29 from 8am to 9.20am

For the very first time in the event’s 98-year history, Yorkshire 2019 have organised a publicity ‘Caravan’. This was hugely popular when the Tour de France came to Yorkshire in 2014, and this year, the flotilla will travel the Men’s Elite Road Race route from Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales National Park down to Harrogate.

Reeth was chosen especially as a way of recognising the resolve and spirit shown in the wake of the severe flash flooding which ravaged parts of the Yorkshire Dales last month.

Swaledale (which encompasses Reeth) was particularly badly hit with many residents suffering damage to their homes and businesses. The bridge on Grinton Moor – which was due to feature in the Men’s Elite Road Race – was washed away completely but North Yorkshire County Council have acted swiftly to build a temporary replacement, meaning the route for that race will be unchanged. 

So far, confirmed for the Caravan are Harrogate Spring Water, Global Autocare, Alpecin, Sigma Sports, Welcome to Yorkshire, UK Sports and Leeds Cares.

Swaledale Fan Hub at the Dales Bike Centre – This will take place throughout Championships week

The Dales Bike Centre in Fremington have set up a Swaledale Fan Hub for the Championships. They’re showing all the races on a big screen, arranging food, drink and entertainment, and have organised bike rides out to see the racing at various locations in the National Park. Dales Bike Centre have also done a fantastic job spreading the message that the Yorkshire Dales are open for business following the freak flash flood at the end of July.

The Beefeaters at Grinton Moor Summit – Sunday September 29 from 9am to 11.55am

Since 2014 The 6 ‘Beefeaters’, a group of distinctly average cyclists, have been ever present at the Tour de France. A group of friends brought together by their love of road cycling and a passion for sharing good times.

Together they’ve been putting on ‘probably the best party at the Tour de France’ all over the French Alps for 6 years. This year they’re bringing the party to Yorkshire and the UCI Road World Championships. They are the world’s best cycling fans, and you can experience them ramping up the atmosphere on the Grinton Moor Summit during the Men’s Elite Road Race.  

For more information on the race itself please visit:

For information on road closures please visit: