High times at Yorkshire Dales Hay Time
A BUMPER programme of events has been launched to celebrate the hay meadows of the Yorkshire Dales.
Organisations from all over the Dales have teamed up with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) to stage more than 70 separate activities during the Authority’s Hay Time Festival.
The festival will run from May to September and aims to highlight the biodiversity and cultural heritage of the National Park’s hay meadows.
The ecological importance of the colourful meadows has already been recognised with the launch by the YDNPA and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) in 2006 of the Hay Time Project. It aims to transform 140 hectares of upland and lowland hay meadow to its former glory by encouraging farmers to revert to more traditional management. It also hopes to restore meadows that have lost some of their botanical diversity by spreading seed on them that has been collected from nearby good meadows.
The festival also aims to promote sustainability within the National Park generally and will look at the influences of the hay meadows on:
- Culture – the old farming methods and traditions like bringing the drinkings
- Wildlife – the huge variety of birds, animals and plant life
- Architecture – the building and use of the stone barns that are such a familiar sight in the Yorkshire Dales.
The festival runs throughout the Yorkshire Dales, including the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and there are events suitable for all ages and interests, from farm walks to hay time picnics, flower identification days to a lantern procession at dusk.
The celebration will also include events run by the National Trust and Field Studies Council at Malham as well as several other smaller independent organisations.
A new exhibition called ‘Hay time in the Dales’ is being staged at the newly-refurbished Grassington National Park Centre.
The exhibition takes a nostalgic look back at traditional farming methods which are becoming more and more relevant today because they are sustainable and they produce landscapes with lots of wildlife.
There is also a video display explaining how the agricultural landscape in Wharfedale has changed over time – including an eye-opening prediction of what the area might look like in 2080 if climate change goes unchecked.
The Grassington National Park Centre will be officially opened on 13 May by Matthew Wilson, Head of Site and Curator of RHS Garden Harlow Carr near Harrogate. He will also launch the Yorkshire Dales Hay Time Festival.