LAST year there were celebrations after the news was announced that the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Project (CVLLP) had been awarded £1.89 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership.
The project was set up to secure, conserve and enhance the valley’s natural landscape and built heritage, and support communities and organisations with local initiatives to boost their conservation, management and knowledge.
Based at Bank House in St Edward Street, Leek, the project is managed by local people and organisations, and covers 190 square kilometres, bordered to the north by the Peak District National Park, to the south and west by the Churnet catchment area, and to the east by the River Dove floodplain.
It includes Leek, Alton, Oakamoor, Foxt, Froghall, Blackshaw Moor, Ipstones Whiston, Longsdon and Rudyard.
Helen Anderson CVLLP Participation Officer said: “We're trying to engage people to appreciate where they live and to get more involved to sustain it. The idea is to leave a legacy behind so that you know we’ve been in the valley for four years, but we’re also hoping it will go beyond that and people will keep taking it forward.” Over the past year project officers and volunteers have been busy working on numerous projects across the valley to create long-term environmental and social benefits, and to enhance physically and in people’s minds that the Churnet Valley is an asset to actively celebrate and enjoy.
CVLLP has worked with 38 community groups on 33 projects with more than 300 volunteers over the year, equating to a workforce value of around £19,000.
Some of the works so far...
Project: Cheddleton Towpath The £50,000 project was delivered by the Canal and River Trust and, along with resurfacing the towpath at Hazlehurst to Denford, has created 1.2km of towpath i m p r ov e m e n t s linking the Churnet Valley Railway Station and Cheddleton Flint Mill.A wheelchair friendly boat access point has been constructed at the Flint Mill, specially designed in conjunction with The Beatrice Charity which provides boat trips. A 42-metre long linear mooring has also been completed close to the Churnet Valley Railway Station Tnd Boat Inn pub at Basford Bridge Lane.
Project: St Edward’s Park Woodland Management. Around 10 acres of trees were blown down during a storm last year. Site clearance took 25 volunteer days, and a further two days of tree planting with 12 volunteers each day, who planted approximately one acre with up to 400 native deciduous saplings including oak, birch, cherry, rowan, hawthorn and hazel. Ian McWilliam, who lives in Cheddleton Heath, has volunteered to look after the young woodland as is grows,checking the tubes, re-staking, thinning and so on.
Project: Towpath Surfacing/Stonewalling Training. Along the Caldon Canal at Denford, more than 100 metres of new path has been laid and a 3.5 metre stone wall rebuilt as a 'training task' by 25 volunteers.
Project: Caldon Canal Improving access points onto the Caldon Canal. So far two ramps onto the canal have been installed, which provide people of lower mobility easier access to the towpath network. Most recently a ramp at Bridge 39 near Deep Hayes Country Park onto the canal took three work parties to complete. It took 20 volunteer days to install the ramp and guard rail which was surfaced with three tons of limestone. It is hoped that a low mobility circular route to Hazlehurst Junction incorporating The Hollybush pub, Deep Hayes Country park, Aqueduct and the Leek Arm of the Caldon Canal will soon be possible.
Project: Himalayan Balsam Around 180 volunteers at over 20 different sites in the Churnet Valley pulled Himalayan Balsam. So far 33 woodlands covering 840 acres have been improved and 43 acres of grassland has been returned to wild flower meadows. The project also offers free vocational training in countryside management and environmental conservation, including hedge laying, stone walling, path work, woodland management and fencing.