The Skell Valley Project

Eavestone, one of the undiscovered gems in the Skell Valley which the project will help uncover

What is the Skell Valley Project?

The Skell Valley Project is a partnership between the National Trust and Nidderdale AONB which aims to slow the flow of water along the River Skell. It will improve opportunities for people to explore and enjoy the natural and cultural heritage of the Skell Valley. We are working in partnership with farmers, landowners, local organisations and the wider community to achieve this.

Tell me more about the Skell Valley

The Skell Valley is a 40km2 distinctive landscape on the north eastern edge of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It's home to the River Skell, which runs from its source on Dallowgill Moor for 12 miles to the City of Ripon in North Yorkshire.

It's a gently rolling landscape with a mixture of moorland, woodland and arable fields. It features special places such as Eavestone Lake, World Heritage Site Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal and Hell Wath Local Nature Reserve. The Skell Valley supports a variety of wildlife and is enjoyed by people as a place to visit and explore.

Why is the project so important?

The valley and its unique cultural and natural heritage is under threat from flooding, siltation and neglect. The project will empower the Skell Valley's communities to explore its rich natural and cultural history, the wildlife and to have a role in shaping its future.

What have you been doing so far?

In 2019 the National Lottery Heritage Fund gave us an initial piece of funding to help develop our plan for the project. We are currently working with farmers, landowners and the local community to do so. This plan will be submitted as part of our application when applying to NLHF for a further grant of £1.4 million.

If the bid is successful the delivery of the project will start from 2021 and run to 2024, which will cost approximately £2.5 million. The rest of project will be funded by contributions from the project partners and a fundraising appeal.

What is the Skell Valley Project going to do?

Restore our lost heritage treasures

We want to research, record and repair heritage features surrounding the River Skell that have been hidden from public view for decades so that people can enjoy them once again.

Create better habitats for wildlife

We want to reduce the amount of soil loss and run-off into the river so that wildlife can thrive in a better quality of water.

Reduce soil loss and flooding

We want to use sustainable solutions such as native woodland planting, re-introduction of sphagnum moss on moorland and run-off ponds to reduce flood risk and soil loss so that we can lessen the damage caused to historic buildings and water features along the river.

Inspire people with the Skell Valley’s story

We want more people to enjoy what the Skell Valley has to offer by making it more accessible. This might include improving footpaths, adding signs, and developing trails and exhibitions so that certain areas are easier to get to and even more fun to visit.

Involve people in looking after their local area

We’d like to involve people in improving their surrounding heritage and wildlife by providing opportunities for people to learn new skills and take an active role in managing the local area. This could include monitoring wildlife, recording historic buildings and creating exhibitions amongst many others.

Latest updates

30 Apr 20

Adjusting to lockdown

Something that being in lockdown has highlighted is how much communities who live in and visit the Skell Valley value this unique landscape. Like them, we’re looking forward to exploring the Skell again in the future. In the meantime, Spring has well and truly arrived, and the team have continued to work on the bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and consider how the project may help support communities after Covid-19.

Daffodils with the ruins of Fountains Abbey in the distance

07 Mar 20

Community Events - Sights and Sounds of Ripon

This month is all about celebrating the community partners we have been working with on the development of the Skell Valley Project. ‘Sights & Sounds of Ripon’ community day which saw people enjoy free interactive activities with groups all over Ripon and people join us to make natural bird feeders and wildlife badges! While the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to other events this month, we want to say a huge thank you to our partners and will try to rearrange.

Engaging with the Ripon community

06 Feb 20

Nature photography at Hell Wath

In early February we were out with members of Jennyruth Workshops and Ripon Walled Garden doing a nature photography walk with guidance from the Friends of Hell Wath. We had a great time enjoying the sun on one of the last days before Storm Ciara arrived! One of the aims of the Skell Valley Project it to enable people to connect with nature and learn about wildlife. Trying out this sort of activity is helping us develop ideas for how we can engage local communities with nature, wildlife and heritage in ways that are fun and develop skills.

Photography workshop at Hell Wath nature reserve