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Launch of the Friends of the Three Peaks

[Tuesday 11 August July 2009]

THE beautiful Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales will be at the centre of a special event later this month.

Groups of walkers will be putting on their boots for an early morning hike up Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough on August 21 to mark the launch by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) of the Friends of the Three Peaks, the latest phase of a three-year project aimed at protecting and conserving the special area.

Local businesses and councillors as well as groups and charities that use the Three Peaks for sponsored walks – like the NSPCC and Heart Research UK – will join YDNPA staff for the three walks before gathering at the Station Inn in Ribblehead.

There they will meet Calendar Girl Angela Baker, whose late husband John worked for the Authority and initiated the original Three Peaks Project in the 1980s.

She will become the first member of the Friends, a group being set up to help support the Authority’s work in the area, which sees around 250,000 visitors every year. Anyone wanting to join is asked to make a suggested minimum annual donation of £10.

Steve Hastie, the YDNPA Three Peaks Manager, said: “The launch of the Friends group is a very important step in the development of the project because it will provide a mechanism for long-term support by people who feel a real affinity for the area.

”The group is in its very early stages but we hope next year we will have an events programme they can take part in with activities like Area Ranger-guided walks and chances to do practical things like path maintenance.”

In 1986 the Institute for Terrestrial Ecology carried out a study of the condition of the path network in the Three Peaks and concluded that it had the most severely eroded network of footpaths in the UK.

In the following years, a team of staff worked to provide sustainable routes and to allow damaged surrounding land to recover, and a number of externally-funded projects were also completed.

But, from 2004, the management and maintenance of the Three Peaks network reverted back to the YDNPA Rangers – a team of just two officers covering the whole of the wider Ribblesdale area.

Since the launch of the current Three Peaks Project last October, the Authority has appointed Ian Middleton as the Three Peaks Ranger with the responsibility of maintaining Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent and the surrounding areas.

Anyone wanting more information can email Steve Hastie, the Three Peaks Project Manager at threepeaksproject@yorkshiredales.org.uk

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