Recently I visited the North York Moors National Park with members of the Symonds Club (colleagues from the national park movement, the club being named after the Lake District campaigner, the late H H Symonds). The national park officer, Andy Wilson, organised an excellent day of visits for us.
We started at the Moors Centre, Danby, where we had a warm welcome.
In the sunny gallery there was an exhibition to mark the national park’s sixtieth anniversary, Inspired Landscape, with photos by Joe Cornish, paintings by Peter Hicks and Len Tabner, colourful engraved glass by Stephen Gillies and Kate Jones, and photographs, etchings and screenprints by William Tillyer.
Back in the main part of the visitor centre, Rita Rudsdale and Jen Trembath could not have been more helpful. We were in need of stamps and they immediately produced worldwide postcard-stamps and even posted our letters for us to ensure we caught that day’s post.
With national park visitor centres under threat of closure or reduced opening hours, it was a joy to find Danby centre in good heart and providing such a good service. It is tragic that the parks are being forced to reduce visitor services because of government funding cuts: the centres fulfil a vital education function and are an investment in our future.
In the afternoon we visited Fylingdales Moor, which is managed for its wildlife and archaeological remains by the Hawk and Owl Trust on behalf of the Strickland Estate. It is a vast heather moorland with scattered trees and wooded valleys, where there is, blissfully, no grouse shooting. We saw stonechat and willow warbler, twayblade and adder’s tongue fern.
But as we walked the moors and discussed national park issues in this inspiring landscape, there was the ever-present chimera of the proposed potash mine. The Campaign for National Parks is working with the North York Moors Association to fight this terrible threat. They will need our help.