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Eycott Hill celebrated at Uplands for Everyone Conference

The panel from left to right; David Harpley, Julia Aglionby, Caz Graham, Simon Humphries, Candida and Sam Hodgson © Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Cumbria Wildlife Trust held their Uplands for Everyone Conference at Roundthorn Country House, Penrith. The sell-out event hosted over 180 delegates, including farmers, conservationists, representatives from organisations across the country, Cumbria Wildlife Trust members and the general public.

The conference highlighted the work that the trust has done at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve and how, through a collaborative programme of restorative low-input farming, habitat restoration and people engagement, this special place has been put into natural recovery for everyone’s benefit.

Tony Juniper CBE, Chair of Natural England, headlined the conference and spoke about the importance of a partnership-based, holistic approach to environmental recovery. Tony emphasised that now is a moment of fundamental change for land managers, especially within the context of climate change and wildlife emergencies. It was a real privilege to have Tony speak at our conference, sharing his insights and vision for the future.

The day continued with excellent talks from Chris Clark (farmer at Nethergill Farm), Sam and Claire Beaumont (farmers at Gowbarrow Hall Farm), David Renwick (Area Director North National Lottery Heritage Fund), Ali McCaw (Prism Arts), and Kate Gascoyne (The Farmer Network).

Sam and Claire Beaumont, who spoke about their regenerative farming project Wilder Gowbarrow (Ullswater), gave us their thoughts on the day; “It was great to be part of such a positive event, where farmers and ecologists could openly discuss the many issues facing the Uplands and look for potential solutions and opportunities. The overriding message was that working together is the way forward!”

David Renwick, Area Director North – National Lottery Heritage Fund said; “The Upland’s for Everyone Conference was a fantastic celebration of the Eycott Hill Project, which we’ve been proud to have support through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and has achieved great things for nature, landscape and has engaged such a wide range of people through exciting arts programming, through walks, talks and events and through volunteering. Not only was the conference a way to mark the project but it was a crucial contribution to the current debate about what we want to get from our landscapes, how farming can contribute and how we engage people in this discussion. It was great to see such a varied range of speakers and delegates challenging each other and coming together. I look forward to seeing where this conversation goes from here – for Eycott, for the Cumbrian landscape beyond and indeed the British landscape in the 21st Century!”

The afternoon session included a fantastic panel discussion about public goods, chaired by Caz Graham (freelance journalist for BBC Radio 4) with Julia Aglionby (Executive Director England, Foundation for Common Land), David Harpley (Conservation Manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust), Candida & Sam Hodgson (farmers at Glencoyne Farm), and Simon Humphries (Greener Farming Programme at Natural England).

Nichola Jackson, Eycott Hill Events & Communications Officer said; ‘After many months of planning the conference, it was wonderful to see so many people from all aspects of the uplands come together to have inspiring and thought-provoking discussions. It was brilliant to share our work at Eycott Hill and what we’ve achieved over the five-year long project. The conference was made possible thanks to National Lottery Players and support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thank you to our speakers, panel members and all those who attended – it was a great success!’

Work at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund who awarded £1.6 million towards the purchase price and an ongoing five year programme of conservation and activities to benefit wildlife and people. Located between Keswick and Penrith, near to the village of Berrier, Eycott Hill is 216 hectares of exceptionally rich wildlife habitat and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the plants in the swamps and mires and its geology. Car parking and entry to the nature reserve is free of charge. For the latest news sign up to the Eycott Hill newsletter at www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/eycott-hill.