We are delighted to announce that we have been granted an extension period for the programme to continue to run until 31st October 2022. The original plan was to complete our objectives by March next year, but the impact of the coronavirus has created the need for activity to take place during an additional summer. With thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this has been made possible and we are now able to make up for lost time.
When the coronavirus arrived back in February 2020, The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership was nearing its halfway mark. Initially, it was considered it to be good timing, as the subsequent March lockdown gave us space to reflect on our successes and provided time to think about moving into stage 2 of the scheme. A number of contractor-led projects were still able to go ahead in line with government guidelines, including the creation of the Chatburn to Downham bridleway and refurbishing the Downham information barn nearby, plus hedge-laying and dry stone walling contracts on farms, and the Summit peat 'resilience' works.
As time moved on however, and the pandemic continued to progress, the enormity of the impact on the programme started to show. The continuous cancellations of planned activity meant that we were falling further and further behind with meeting our objectives. Firstly, the archaeology forum was cancelled, then a hedge-laying competition, dry stone walling courses, volunteering days, the 'People Enjoying Nature' sessions, Little Saplings outdoor learning sessions, and school and family activities – all cancelled.
Some activities were adapted and instead delivered online, such as the Dark Skies events. Such events were hugely popular and enabled us to reach new audiences - people who wouldn’t, or couldn't, normally join in. We thought creatively about how we could continue to engage with audiences, and carry out project work whilst working under restrictions, so there were some hugely positive things to take from lockdown as a result. In-Situ carried out events on-line and ran experimental 'testing Ground' artist residencies; the PEN project ran small group walks close to home and 2021's archaeology forum was a digital success! But the news of 'another summer' has been very much welcomed by the team. We are now able to revisit our plans for 2020 and begin to deliver projects and community engagement in 'real life' once more.
We are now back in full swing with plenty of dry stone walling taking place, new access routes being established, and summer holiday family events and the People Enjoying Nature sessions are back on. Next month a week-long walking festival will take place, alongside an event for Clarion Sunday run by Mid Pennine Arts. Next year will see three new woodlands planted up, lots more work on traditional boundaries, two more artists in residence, another archaeology internship and an extension to the much loved 72 Seasons project, which was a saviour to the people involved with it during the pandemic.
Our Programme Manager, Cathy Hopley, said 'We are just so pleased and excited to be back outside, providing opportunities for people to get involved and hands-on with the landscape. Having this extension means we will be able to make up for lost time and deliver some really exciting things next year: watch this space!'