West Cumbria Rivers Trust celebrate grant of £1.9M from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for Walkmill Community Woodland

11th July 2023 - General Catchment

A Wilder Walkmill project funding will help shape, share and sustain the woodland for people and wildlife.

West Cumbria Rivers Trust have today received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £1.9 million as part of a £2.3 million project to fund ‘A Wilder Walkmill’, an ambitious four year project at Walkmill Community Woodland in Moresby, near Whitehaven. Made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to enhance the natural and industrial heritage of the site creating a wildlife-rich tranquil space from which people can explore. The project promises to create a vibrant community of users by improving access, offering regular recreation, wellbeing and family events, and providing opportunities for people to form a deeper understanding of nature and the unique history of the site. The project has also been supported by the Environment Agency, received match funding of £200k from Sellafield Ltd SiX - Social Impact Multiplied Programme - and donations of trees from the Woodland Trust.

The ambition of the project is significant and requires the recruitment of a whole team of new staff, including eight new apprentices who will gain practical conservation skills, certificated training and a Countryside Worker qualification, providing an ideal foundation for a career in conservation. Regular volunteering days will be created to also help achieve the plans and regularly monitor wildlife offering enthusiasts the chance to learn new skills, socialise and help make a difference in their community.

Plans include river restoration works, woodland management, meadow restoration, the creation of a new community tree and wildflower nursery, play elements for children, a new dog agility area, as well as footpath improvements and new interpretation boards to help wayfinding as well as storytelling. Community engagement is key with activities including guided walks, family days and activities, training programmes, along with running TCV Green Gym session and green social prescribing. Collaboration is a big part of the vision with plans for the interpretation features to be co-created with local residents, local schools, mining interest groups and volunteers. 

The Trust’s exceptional education team will also benefit from the award with a new area created for running forest schools with local schools and groups and a new learning session ‘Discovering Walkmill’ involving classroom sessions and field trips.

Commenting on the award, Jodie Mills, WCRT’s Director, said:

“It’s amazing news to be awarded a second round of funding for Walkmill. Already this community resource is paying dividends for nature and the community who love it, but the huge ambitions we, and our partners at Moresby Parish Council, had for the site can now be realised and provide the people of this community with an exceptional, vibrant and inspiring place which will benefit them in so many ways.”

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to award West Cumbria Rivers Trust a grant for this work that will ensure our natural heritage is safeguarded for generations to come. It is fantastic to think that our funding will help rejuvenate the landscape and give local people the opportunity to connect with the amazing nature on their doorsteps.”

Stuart McCourt, Social Impact Manager at Sellafield Ltd said:

“In addition to the obvious environmental benefits of the project from the improvement works, there is also a lot of social impact which will be unlocked too. It’s a great example of collaborative working with different partners involved.” 

To view original press story & download images click here (images to download with instructions are located just above the title)