Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

#70People70Years - Louise Hawson

Louise Hawson

Louise Hawson - BMC Access rep, climber, fell runner, and Secretary of the Stanage Forum

Professionally Louise Hawson runs a consultancy which specialises in advising companies on sustainable sourcing and ethical procurement. She is also an experienced facilitator and trainer. But her heart is in the eastern moors and gritstone edges on the Sheffield side of the Peak District National Park and her passions for climbing, running and nature have resulted in her taking on voluntary roles that support access, recreation and wildlife.

Louise is one of the Peak Area Local Access reps for the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). She is a keen climber, fell runner and walker with a rich appreciation for the landscape she is running or walking through. Living in Sheffield, Stanage and Burbage regularly draw her in. She says: "It is wonderful to have these wild spaces so close to the city, effectively in our backyard, and yet you feel you're in a very special place."

Louise Hawson

Louise grew up in the West Midlands but her dad and grandparents were from Sheffield and she has happy memories of visits to the Peak District. "I remember having the time of my life when we came to visit. Experiencing the Peak District from an early age seeded my love for it – that’s why I feel it’s important to make a song and dance about these places. For those who haven’t had relatives to visit here, school trips and organised groups like Peak District Mosaic and Black Girls Hike are so important for introducing people to the National Park who will grow to love it too."

As an adult, moving close to the Peak District made sense and enabled Louise to practice her sports. Running gives Louise a sense of freedom. "Running is a great way to refresh your brain after working all day at a desk. It’s incredible to get away and immerse yourself in somewhere different to the office or home.

"The ability to get out and run along the edges at Bamford or Froggatt enables you to cover a lot of ground quite quickly and see more of this amazing place."

She has completed the 22-mile Nine Edges run several times, fundraising for Edale Mountain Rescue Team. "It’s a day of running with incredible views and epitomises the sense of this being a brilliant but physically challenging place."

Since 2013, Louise has been a volunteer ranger for the Peak District National Park Authority, based at Brunt’s Barn, Grindleford. She leads guided walks, including one on the ‘History of Climbing on the Eastern Edges’, which she helped to develop.

Louise Hawson

Louise is actively involved in nature conservation too, in particular the ring ouzel monitoring project which, through the work of Kim Leyland and the Eastern Moors Partnership, is successfully helping to stop the decline in ring ouzels in the Peak District. "In March, at Stanage and the gritstone edges, we watch for the birds arriving back from Africa and then look to see where they are establishing their nests. If they are on crags where they could be disturbed by climbers, we put up temporary signs so that people know which climbs to avoid. It’s a brilliant project to be involved with, the data shows that the ring ouzels are better protected because of it."

Her interests in recreation, access and conservation led her to the Stanage Forum and since 2017 she has been the Secretary of this advisory body. The Forum provides opportunities for the Authority to listen to people’s ideas and work in partnership.

Louise says: "As Secretary to the Stanage Forum, I try to make sure that all views are represented and included in communications with the National Park Authority. It’s important that user groups and residents are represented and that the different perspectives people bring are heard so that decisions taken are well informed.

"I believe there is room for nature and people. It’s about seeing people as part of the solution, not being part of a problem. It’s how we manage conservation and recreation to support and enhance each other by understanding different views and working with people. I find most people want to help do the right thing and protect the places they love."

Louise is a member of the Peak District Local Access Forum too and is proud that this group was able to meet virtually during the pandemic, thanks to the National Park’s Access and Rights of Way team. She says: "We have been able to keep having the discussions about access, impacts and more throughout the pandemic. This past year has shown how important access to protected landscapes and the uplands is to people and that relationship between access, people and place is an integral part of what the National Park is trying to achieve."

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