2013-05-28  facebook twitter rss

College Takes On Historic Moorland

Ground-breaking opportunities for game keeping, agriculture and countryside students have been announced by Askham Bryan College which is taking on a prestigious grouse moor once used by royalty.

The specialist land-based College has leased 5,000 acres of moorland at Shap, Cumbria, as a practical resource for students from its campuses in York and at Newton Rigg. It is the first UK college to have such a resource of its own. The heather moorland is 20 miles from Newton Rigg College at Penrith, which became part of the Askham Bryan family in August 2011.

Robert Benson, Chairman of the Moorland Association and Sporting Manager of Lonsdale Estates with Wes Johnson, Principal, Newton Rigg College and students Annie Helliwell of Northumberland and Adam Gledhill from Barnsley on the moorland at Shap.

L-R, Robert Benson, Chairman of the Moorland Association and Sporting Manager of Lonsdale Estates with Wes Johnson, Principal, Newton Rigg College and students Annie Helliwell of Northumberland and Adam Gledhill from Barnsley on the moorland at Shap.

The moor is being leased from Lonsdale Estates and was once the setting for royal shooting parties with the guest list including His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm in 1895 and 1902.

The agreement gives students the unique opportunity to take part in a live hands-on project managing fragile moorland protected by European designation and to balance the needs of conservation and gamekeeping. It also complements the Colleges' 2,400 acres of farmland, forestry and mixed woodland which form an integral part of student learning. It will be a valuable resource for the National Centre for the Uplands which is based at Newton Rigg College.

Liz Philip, Askham Bryan's Chief Executive said: "This is immensely exciting news, both for our young people as well as for the industry generally. It will be a hugely valuable resource enabling our students to have unique access to a working grouse moor - and it's on their doorstep."

Said Robert Benson, Chairman of the Moorland Association and Sporting Manager of Lonsdale Estates: “Two centuries of sensitive land management has conserved a precious habitat for Britain’s unique wild red grouse, as well as many other threatened species. This initiative is warmly welcomed and supported by The Moorland Association as it provides a crucial learning resource for the next generation of land managers, in whose hands the future of our upland landscape, wildlife and rural economy rests.”

The moorland will be used as the practical base for a wide range of subjects including gamekeeping, wildlife and conservation, agriculture, countryside and land management. Teaching at Newton Rigg is by the Northern School of Game and Wildlife, led by Course Director, Malcolm Riding.

"Students from both our campuses will learn about integrated moorland management, with grouse shooting as the linchpin, including carrying out wildlife surveys, conservation work, heather burning and predator control. They will be working with our full time gamekeeper, Tony Williams, building shooting butts, bridges and access tracks, keeping alive traditional field crafts," said Mrs Philip.

a shooting party on the moorland in 1927 with keepers, chauffeurs and ponies

A shooting party on the moorland in 1927 with keepers, chauffeurs and ponies

The colleges have a strong reputation nationally for providing excellent education in countryside management and game keeping with 47% of the country's game keeping apprentices studying at Askham Bryan and Newton Rigg. Most recently, Lee Alderson, of Newton Rigg, won the ultimate accolade - he was presented with the prestigious Gamekeeper of the Year Award 2012 by the National Gamekeepers' Organisation.

Newton Rigg

   
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