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Bringing back Peak District woodlands brings community together in a new book

This is an archived press release

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Around the Dane Valley compiled by Sheila HineA project to encourage people to love and restore their local woodlands is celebrating the end of its third year with a fascinating spin-off – the publication of a book.

'Around the Dane Valley' is a collection of memories and photographs from some of the Peak District National Park's less well-known villages of Bosley, Wincle, Swythamley and Gradbach, on the Cheshire/Staffordshire border.

The book is the result of an oral history initiative and local people getting together to plant trees and do conservation work.

It captures memories of local legends, everyday country life in the early 20th century, using horses before tractors, taking the milk churns with a donkey and cart, and some more unusual happenings, including plane crashes and floods. It has been compiled by Peak District farmer, landscape photographer and writer, Sheila Hine.

Sheila Hine said: "The oral history part of the project gave people the opportunity to recall their lives in years past which meant old photographs were brought out and there were plenty of stories to hear. It's important to collect these memories in the book otherwise the lives that have been lived in the landscape, that helped make it what it is, will eventually disappear."

The Dane Valley Woodland Project is led by the Peak District National Park Authority to restore and extend the area's nationally important woodlands – much of which dates back to before the 17th century.

Since 2011, hundreds of local volunteers have been involved in the project including schoolchildren, WI members, farmers, landowners, naturalists, woodland contractors and deer stalkers.

Rebekah Newman, the Project's co-ordinator, said: "The project has become much more than restoring the national park landscape and enhancing biodiversity. The community spirit shown and the feelings people have for the Dane Valley has been inspirational. The book is a great memento of the history of this unique corner of the Peak District National Park."

The publication was made possible thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Peak District National Park Authority.

Around the Dane Valley by Sheila Hine (ISBN 9781904546993) is available in Peak District National Park visitor centres or through the publisher Churnet Valley Books on www.leekbooks.co.uk or 01538 399033 (£12.95).

As well as enjoying the book people will see the benefits of the project in the landscape for years to come. More than 20,000 native trees have been planted funded by the Forestry Commission's Woodland Grant Scheme. Conservation work, wildlife surveys and oral history was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and SITA Trust. Now more than 100 hectares of woodland has been thinned to make better habitats for plants, insects and birds. And, wildflowers on 70 hectares are benefiting from reduced numbers of cattle and sheep being grazed.

This is an archived press release

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