Valley Futures (2016 - 2019)

Giving young people the opportunity to learn practical, rural management skills, whilst undertaking an apprenticeship in Environmental Conservation.

The Rusland Valley has a diverse landscape made up of woodlands, hedgerows, dry-stone walls, open fell, archaeological sites and pathways. Maintaining this requires experience, specialist skills and careful management. The Valley Futures project provided young people with a solid background in woodland management and the opportunity to learn traditional, rural skills during the Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership (2016 - 2019)

They received training in a range of landscape management activities such as coppicing, woodland ecology, tree identification, Cumbrian hedge laying, dry-stone walling and using chainsaws.

The apprentices worked alongside experienced partner organisations and volunteers. They became an integral part of the team, dedicated to restoring and protecting the landscape of the Rusland Horizons area.


  • With the help of the apprentices, many of the woodlands in the Rusland Valley have now been put back into management, ensuring the heritage is preserved and the area is now in much better condition.
  • In just one season, thirteen coupes were coppiced in addition to twenty woodlands.
  • Using the practical skills learnt, they carried out significant amounts of work, particularly within the Coupes and Cords, Hidden Hedgerows, Share Wood and Greenwood Trails projects.
  • Ten apprentices successfully completed the course and progressed to employment.
  • Most of the apprentices who completed have gained local employment within the landscape and rural skills industries.

Take a look at our landscape conservation map to see where the apprentices have been working.

View map


So far so good...

  • 8 young people successfully completed the Level 2 Environmental Conservation Apprenticeship.
  • 10 apprentices have achieved the John Muir Award.
  • 9 industry mentors provided valuable support and shared their experience with the apprentices.
  • Many kilometres of path improvements have been completed within the Greenwood Trails project including; several sleeper bridges built, fencing, stiles installed and numerous gates repaired and installed.
  • 6 new woodlands were created by the apprentices as part of the Coupes and Cords project.
  • Several hundred metres of boardwalk installed on Rusland Moss as part of the Greenwood Trails project.
  • More than 2000 metres of new hedgerow was planted by the apprentices.
  • Over 1000 metres of fences and walls have been restored and repaired.

Did you know?

54% of staff employed in the rural sector are aged 45 and over. As these people reach retirement age and as the sector grows, the sector needs many thousands of new entrants to address the growing skills gap.


  • Watch (2 videos)

    Valley Futures

    Recruitment video for Valley Futures apprenticeship programme February 2016

    Day in the Life of an Apprentice

    Watch the Rusland Horizons apprentices carry out woodland restoration work.

The Challenge

The character of the Rusland Horizons area is made up of a variety of habitats and features including woodlands, hedgerows, dry-stone walls, open fell, archaeological sites and pathways. All of these need careful management by a skilled workforce if the landscape character is to be retained.

However, there is an increasing shortage of skilled practitioners, matched with limited opportunities to gain these skills. Young people are leaving the area to find training and employment elsewhere.

Our Approach

We worked in partnership with Askham Bryan College, Newton Rigg to deliver an industry-based apprenticeship in Environmental Conservation. The apprenticeships enabled young people to learn important traditional skills that equipped them with the right skills portfolio to pursue a career and gain employment within the rural and landscape management sector.

© 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.