Sustainable Development Fund in the Solway Coast AONB
Some of the Projects carried out in 2009-2010
Holme Cultram Community Research Project
West Cumbria Archaeological Society
The project involved a two month excavation at what was once the largest Cistercian monastic house in Cumbria, Holme Cultram Abbey, Abbeytown. The project aims to investigate the size and layout of the monastery, with the aim of producing a plan of the monastic complex. The West Cumbria Archaeological Society also hope to learn more about the everyday life of the Monks at Abbeytown, their diet, industry, influence and connections.
So far the location of the South West corner of the cloisters, along with the robbed out foundations of the inner and outer walls of the cloister and other exposed features have been found and the North and South walls of the Chapter House were found through an evaluation trench.
The research forms part of a larger Heritage Lottery Funded project which will continue in 2010. Many local people have been involved as volunteers on the project and have been given training in archaeological techniques, raising the historical significance of the Abbey. Professional archaeologists have been involved and have also given some volunteer time to the excavation.
Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said:
"Through this project, the West Cumbria Archaeological Society is giving the local community a wonderful opportunity to get involved in investigating the Holme Cultram Abbey site. Volunteers will work alongside professional archaeologists on every aspect of the excavation, including taking guided tours and producing an exhibition about the site. This is the chance for local people to learn new skills whist exploring and conserving one of Cumberland's heritage treasures."
The results will be shared with the local community through active participation, exhibition creation, on-site (outdoor) interpretation panel and school visits.
The Solway Classroom: Sustainable energy, sustainable geese?
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)
The project aims to build on the previous successful goose and swan projects carried out on the Solway by WWT that have involved local schools within the AONB in real time cutting edge research through the use of the internet in the classroom (mixed with visits to the Caerlaverock Reserve) and the latest satellite tracking technology deployed on these birds. More than 20 local Solway schools have now been involved with these projects over the last 3 years and at the same time a wealth of useful data has been amassed of use to the scientific understanding of how the geese use the Solway for feeding and roosting and for assessing the importance of the Solway as a critical resource for the barnacle goose in particular within the international flyway context.
At least 99% of the entire Svalbard barnacle goose population makes use of this seemingly critical resource prior to the spring migration north and so the project also looks at the risk potential windfarms in the Firth of Forth might have on the migration of the geese.
Maintenance of Churchyard and Care of Churchyard Trees
St Michael's and All Angels Church, Burgh by Sands
The aim of this project was to continue to carry out tree surgery work on some of the trees in the churchyard in order to improve the longevity of the trees and improve access to the church. Along with vital churchyard maintenance the project will help to preserve the heritage of the church and trees for future generations to enjoy and access.
Allerby Community Gardens Wildlife Area
Allerby Community Gardens is managed by West House, a charitable organisation supporting people with learning difficulties in West Cumbria. The site was purchased in 1998, and since then on site facilities and the gardens have gradually been improved for sale of produce and visitor recreation.
This project has enabled a 3 year plan to create a 5 acre wildlife area, including hay meadows, wetlands and a copse. Local contractors were used to carry out the works, which will provide an increase in biodiversity on the edge of the AONB, with increased visitor access to the site and the AONB. The gardens and wildlife area will be maintained by West House and other voluntary organisations and local school children will use the site to learn more about the wildlife and habitats in their local environment. The wildflower seeds have been sourced locally and Cumbria Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group have assisted in the management plans.
Green Fest Silloth
Silloth Tourism Action Group
A two day festival of food and drink was again held to promote food from the Solway area. 20 producers based in the Solway Coast attended providing a greater variety of local produce, with over 500 people attending over the weekend. Young people were encouraged to be involved, with Silloth schoolchildren taking an interest in food sources. The Green Fest has continued to grow and is providing increased recreational use by visitors and locals in the area with good return to the local economy.
Development of Footpath 240011 in Kirkbride
Kirkbride Parish Council
Continued work is improving the pathways around Kirkbride. This project has allowed a well used path in Kirkbride to be repaired and upgraded. The path has been widened, levelled and top surfaced, with drainage ditches cleared. Increased access has allowed more villagers to use it with regular health benefits.Two stiles have been replaced by new kissing gates to improve access for all. Local contracters were used.
Securing the Future of the Natterjack Breeding Pool, Mawbray Banks
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Five years ago the Solway Coast AONB installed a butyl rubber lined breeding pool for natterjack toads thanks to funding from English Nature Aggregates Levy Fund. The pool has proved to be successfully used by the natterjacks but it was punctured over the last year. This project has provided the installation of a more robust 'rawmat' liner to secure the future of this important natterjack breeding pool. The AONB Community Volunteer Group were involved with the installation, and the pool provides an educational resource for the AONB Education Officer and on site information to all visitors. Overall the pool helps to maintain and enhance a population of the UK's rarest amphibian species, which is a Cumbria Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) target species.
Orchards and Apples on the Solway Coast
Cumbria Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group
Traditional orchards have been identified as an important habitat in Cumbria but they are also threatened because most are small and many are neglected. The aim of this project was to gain a better appreciation of the location, extent and condition of orchards across the Solway Coast AONB in order to promote better management of this valued habitat and to raise awareness of the value of the orchards. 20 orchards were mapped in the AONB and their historical significance and future potential to produce local varieties of apples were studied. Raised awareness of the importance of orchards to farming businesses, landowners and communities and restoration projects were developed.
The 7th North Cumberland Style Hedgelaying Competition
Solway Coast AONB, Allerdale Borough Council
This project is to maintain the traditional skills of the North Cumberland style of hedgelaying, maintain distinctive hedge structure of the Solway plain, improve biodiversity and move towards species rich hedgerows, train and educate young people in the skills and promote traditional hedge maintenance to a wider community. The competition was carried out on 20th February, 6 competitors entered and many spectators came and went during the day. The event succeeded in discussion and exchange of ideas, improvement of skills, excellent performance of competitors with a good age range and promotion of the style of hedgerows in the Solway area. This year again, the AONB teamed up with Cumbria Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, to hold a hedgelaying training event on the same day, which also attracted new interested parties and information transfer.
Silloth Docks, Green and Seafront
Silloth Tourism Action Group
This project was to celebrate 150 years of the Port of Silloth. A variety of ships, planes, fishing vessels and the Royal Navy attended to showcase the history of the port and at the same time promote tourism in Silloth and the surrounding AONB. The celebration was held over a weekend, and brought in hundreds of visitors with good press in the local media and ITV Border and BBC news. An exhibition was set up in the Discovery Centre in Silloth and was manned for two weeks by volunteers explaining the history of the port; many visitors attended daily and numbers through the Discovery Centre were boosted.
Download the Sustainable Development Fund Application Form (MS Word) here.