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Skell Valley Project

Skell river flows past the ruins of Fountains Abbey as it makes its way into the Studley Water Garden
River Skell flows past the ruins of Fountains Abbey as it makes its way into the Studley Water Garden | © J Shepherd

The National Trust and Nidderdale National Landscape are the lead partners of 16 organisations who have come together to deliver the Skell Valley Project, which will create a sustainable future for the Skell Valley. Over the last nine years partners, farmers, landowners and communities who have been living, working and visiting the valley have come together to develop, shape and deliver the project.

Why is the Skell Valley Project so important?

The valley and its unique cultural and natural heritage are under threat from a number of forces.

Climate change is causing extreme weather conditions around the world. Extreme flooding events have caused irreparable damage to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal and the high level of silt that is deposited in the river is threatening its ecology. Silt is also affecting the water features at Grantley Hall, Eavestone Lake and Ripon Canal.

Flooding at the Temple of Piety showing a tree fallen down and rushing water
Flooding by the Temple of Piety (February 2020) | © NT Jenni Shepherd

If a different approach to looking after the land and the water that flows through it can’t be found, then the heritage of the valley could disappear forever.

To find out more about what we're doing to safeguard the future of Skell Valley to make it more resilient to climate change you can watch a short video here.

If your organisation, group or club would like to find out more, then one of the National Trust talk service volunteer speakers, David Banks, has a talk prepared on the Skell Valley Project entitled Saving our Heritage from Climate Change. Click here to find out more.

Get involved in the Skell Valley Project

The Skell Valley Project is busy in delivery and there are lots of events and opportunities for people of all ages and interests to get involved. Take a look at our Facebook page for updates on what the project is doing and what's coming up.

Latest updates

15 June 2024

Hell Wath BioBlitz

Thank you to everyone who came to our BioBlitz at Hell Wath. Despite the rain showers, we recorded 177 species.

If you'd like to know more about what we found then look at our iNaturalist recordings here

Photos from the BioBlitz showing people engaging with the wildlife we found and a bee orchid
Hell Wath BioBlitz 2024 | © NT Rachel Savage

What is the Skell Valley Project doing?

The project is made up of 15 individual projects which all fit together to form a clear and ambitious vision for the river and the landscape. These projects are set out under four key themes:

Heritage is celebrated

Save heritage from the threats of climate change and general neglect, creating new and exciting opportunities for people to explore the nature and history of the Skell Valley and be involved in its care.

People are empowered

Empower people to deliver projects for nature, heritage and landscape by supporting them in learning the skills they need and removing current barriers that stop people accessing the outdoors and nature around them.

Volunteers thanking the Lottery
Some of our project volunteers | © NT Skell Valley Project

Landscape is resilient

Help to tackle the threats of climate change and play a part in the ‘green’ recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, making the landscape, its people and the local economy more resilient.

Nature thrives

Seek to reverse the decline in nature, conserve ancient trees and woodlands and the wildlife they support and create nature-rich spaces where people live.

Where is the Skell Valley?

The project focusses on the 12 miles of the River Skell, descending from the wild remote moorland of Dallowgill Moor, through the Nidderdale National Landscape and World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal into the historic City of Ripon while traversing at least 6,000 years of human history.

Some of the most ancient human objects in this living landscape are the names of the rivers. The Skell name may have come with the Vikings and their word 'skjallr', meaning ‘resounding’ from its swift and noisy course.

Source of the River Skell
Source of the River Skell | © NT Chris Lacey

Sixteen organisations and community groups have come together to restore the Skell Valley.

They are:

Nidderdale National Landscape (formerly Nidderdale AONB)

National Trust

Eavestone Estate

Environment Agency

Forestry Commission

Grantley Hall Estate

Grantley, Sawley, Skelding and Eavestone Parish Council

Harrogate and District Community Action

Friends of Hell Wath

Natural England

Nidderdale AONB Joint Advisory Committee

North Yorkshire Council (formerly NY County Council)

A representative of the Skell Farmers Group

Ripon Museums Trust

West Yorkshire Archive Service

Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust

Skell Valley Project logo & funders
Partnership & Funders | © Skell Valley Project

From Yorkshire’s Skell Valley to Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains

Tackling climate change is a global challenge. Discover how the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) has facilitated a practical exchange of skills in flood mitigation and community engagement, connecting the two World Heritage Sites of Skell Valley and Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains through the Melting Snow and Rivers in Flood project.

You might also be interested in

Autumnal view across Studley Royal Water Garden

World Heritage Site Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal 

Find out how Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and how we're preserving its unique features for future generations to enjoy.

Birds eye view of the kitchen garden project at Florence Court, County Fermanagh

Grants and funding 

Find out more about the funding the National Trust receives from grants, and the projects it has helped support.