Hands on Heritage (2016-2019)

A programme of outreach, engagement, celebration and sharing of activities to enable people to learn about the wildlife, habitats and heritage of the area and get involved in their conservation.

Hands on Heritage was about creating opportunities for local people, and visitors, to explore the natural and cultural heritage of the area. It highlighted the crucial connection between people and the landscape, both in the past and the present.

The project worked with the community to celebrate and learn about the area’s wildlife, heritage and habitats. It did this through a programme of outreach, engagement, celebration and sharing of activities.

The story of the Rusland Horizons area, and the scheme itself, has been told through events, activities, film, booklets, and website. We encouraged people to explore the Rusland Valley and Fells area and truly appreciate its landscape and connection between the past and present. Our aim to increase dwell time and deepen engagement has hopefully also been achieved, particularly for those who were previously unaware of the area and its heritage.


  • A deeper engagement and appreciation of the Rusland Valley with a strong interest to learn more about the local heritage.
  • With wildlife and their habitats at the centre of this project, people have been encouraged to get outside, explore and discover.
  • Increased sense of community with substantial support and attendance at the events and workshops held.
  • A hugely successful 'Bioblitz' weekend in 2018 at Bowkerstead Farm. All the different species found in the area were recorded over 24 hours. Scroll down to 'Watch' below.
  • Great attendance at the 'Big Xmas Bash events' conservation work parties. Activities included; bridge-building, path-clearing, dry-stone-walling and coppicing, followed by mulled wine and hot stew at The Manor House, Oxen Park.
© Colin Barr

So far so good...

  • 6 children's 'Land to Hand' days for local children to take part in creative nature activities.
  • 7 primary schools involved in activities including; designing the Greenwood Trails logo, tree-planting, forest school, hay-meadow planting, oral history and wildlife-drawing.
  • 3 Community Forums held in the local area.
  • 2 Earthburn events held.
  • 1 Bioblitz event held, which included habitat surveys across 1089sq. km.
  • A successful Full Cycle project delivered with vulnerable adults to restore woodland.
  • 2 Christmas Big Bash events held.
  • We attended 13 events, including Rusland Spring Show and the Rusland Show.
  • 1 youth organisation and 7 community groups engaged and involved throughout the project.
  • 25 John Muir Awards have been gained throughout the project

Did you know?

A Bioblitz is a biological survey that aims to record all of the different species in a given area within a time limit of 24 hours. Over 80 people attended Rusland Horizons's Bioblitz event during summer 2018. Watch the video (click link below).

Have a look at our I-spy guide created by Class 3 at Leven Valley School  - Things to do in the Rusland Valley before you are grown up.  Click Read below. 


  • Watch (2 videos)

    Autumn Activities 2017

    Gosh, autumn was busy! Here's a taste of what we were up to.

    Rusland Horizons Bioblitz Weekend 2018

    Rusland Horizons hosted a Bioblitz weekend in summer 2018, to record all the species found in a given area over 24 hours.
  • Read (1 download)

Project Lead

Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership Team (2016-19)

The Challenge

Many visitors to the area currently travel through the area to the main visitor attractions without pausing to appreciate why the landscape looks the way it does. Surveys conducted during the development phase revealed that most visitors spend less than half a day in the area.

People do not generally appear to value what makes the area special from a specialist archaeological, historical or ecological perspective. However, this is probably because they are largely unaware of those features, no doubt due in part to the current lack of heritage interpretation in the area. This is something that the Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership worked hard to change.

Our Approach

Hands on Heritage was at the heart of Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership (2016-10); it promoted all the other projects in the scheme. We attended local shows and gave talks to spread the word about the scheme and recruit volunteers. We involved local schools, youth clubs and community groups in exploring and conserving what makes this landscape special. Through this website, forum events and conferences, we have celebrated and shared our achievements.

One of the distinguishing, and highly valued, features of the area is that it is quiet and unspoilt. In line with this, the project focussed primarily on increasing the ‘dwell time’ of people who visited the area and trying to deepen their engagement with the heritage. We did not seek to achieve a significant increase in the total number of people who visited the area.

© Rusland Horizons 2017 - 2024. All rights reserved.
Rusland Horizons was a Landscape Partnership funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund until July 2019. It is now being delivered by The Rusland Horizons Trust Limited. Company No. 2133450; Charity No. 519410; Registered Office: Bleacott Farm, Witherslack, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 6RZ.