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On behalf of the Stanage Forum Steering Group, welcome to our 2020 update.

The Stanage Forum is a unique consultative body representing the views of the many and diverse users of the Stanage-North Lees Estate.

Under normal circumstances, our annual Open Meeting in Hathersage would give you an opportunity to learn more and have your say on the future of the estate. That’s not possible this year, so instead we’ve created this newsletter.

Everyone who would have spoken at the meeting has contributed a short article, and provided more detail on our dedicated website.

There is also a Q&A section where you can ask questions or raise issues.

We’re sorry that we can’t meet you all in person this year, which would have been a celebration of 20 years of the Forum. We hope this update will inspire you to keep caring for North Lees and supporting the work of the Forum, and we look forward to bigger and better celebrations next year.

Neil Porter – Chair, Stanage Forum Steering Group
On behalf of the Peak District National Park Authority, I am delighted to welcome all readers to this newsletter from the Stanage Forum and hope you find the updates and articles informative and useful.

The Authority as the lead custodian of the Stanage-North Lees Estate, recognises and greatly appreciates the tireless time, commitment and passion of the individuals and partner organisations that support the Stanage Forum and the Steering Group.

In this time of great uncertainty caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, the need for the many physical, emotional and psychological benefits of Stanage to people have been magnified as well as the tasks in conserving and improving the natural aspects of the Estate.

So, please join with us at the Authority and the Stanage Forum to care for this ‘special’ for future generations.

Zahid Hamid, Peak District National Park Authority Member appointed to Stanage Forum

Have you got something to

say about Stanage?

A Q&A facility will be open via our Stanage website between 31 October and 14 November, 2020.

At the end of the two weeks we will publish answers to all questions received.

You can raise issues for the Steering Group to discuss, thoughout the year, by emailing

What’s happening:


Over the winter, many of you took part in the consultation on the outcomes of the Options Appraisal, which aimed to determine the best approach to securing a sustainable future for the Estate, focusing on alternative uses for its built assets including North Lees Hall, the Cruck Barn, the Campsite and Cattiside Cottage, as well as the wider woodlands and moorland edge above. 

The report summarizing the outcomes of the consultation is available on the consultation website.

The National Park Authority is now developing its detailed proposals for the preferred options for each of the key assets, based on your feedback. The Steering Group will be consulted on these plans as they develop.

Work has also started on updating the Estate Management Plan, to identify the objectives that we want to achieve over the next five years.

In the meantime, the estate ranger has continued to coordinate vital improvements and repairs including path restoration and safety fencing as well as organising the huge task of safely reopening North Lees campsite following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

You can find out more on the website.

What’s happening: HERITAGE

Over 3,000 years of heritage lies within the Stanage-North Lees Estate, including a Romano-British settlement. The ruined chapel (picture above) is thought to date from medieval times; the Elizabethan North Lees Hall may be the model for Thornfield Hall in 'Jane Eyre'; and the mill site, originally for smelting lead in the 18th-century, was used for paper production in the 19th-century.

Understanding more about the heritage of the Estate is one of the main roles of the Stanage-North Lees Heritage Action Group (SNLHAG). We are very excited to be able to tell you that this year we secured £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to investigate the heritage of the Estate, and to work with the local community, volunteers and others to develop a future programme of engagement and fieldwork activities. Expect to hear more on this in 2021.

Sadly, the COVID restrictions meant that we were unable to open North Lees Hall this year for the hugely popular Heritage Open Day event. Last year we welcomed more than 200 people to the Hall and Cruck Barn to take part in activities including guided walks, archaeology demonstrations and all-important ice-cream eating. We plan to come back bigger and better in 2021!

You can find out more on the website.

What’s happening: RING OUZEL PROJECT

Ring Ouzels are the iconic bird for Stanage and are faring better here than at many UK sites, despite their nest sites being in areas with higher numbers of walkers and climbers, and occasionally on popular climbing routes.

The Ring Ouzel Project engages volunteers from the British Mountaineering Council and Sheffield Bird Study Group to monitor ring ouzel nesting sites on and around Stanage, Burbage, Froggatt, Curbar and Bamford, and to agree voluntary climbing restrictions around easily disturbed nest sites. Restrictions are communicated to climbers through local signage.

It is led by Eastern Moors Partnership, and at Stanage is delivered in conjunction with the PDNPA team.

Despite a late start this year due to COVID restrictions on movement in March and April, volunteers were able to quickly identify nest spots and enact restrictions before climbers began returning to the crags.

This year has been a quiet one for Ring Ouzels across the North Lees part of Stanage Edge. During lock down no ouzels were found to be nesting on the crag itself, despite walkers and climbers staying at home. A pair successfully fledged a brood from the Cowper Stone area and another pair successfully fledged a brood from a ground nest in the Mississippi Buttress Area. A lone male sang his heart out form Apparent North for many weeks but it seems no female answered his call which he no doubt found frustrating! 

You can read more on the website.

What’s happening: ECOLOGY AND FARMING

The Stanage-North Lees estate covers a wide spectrum of important habitat including upland crags, moorland, wet bog, woodland and meadow. It supports several amber and red listed species, and has a good population of pied flycatchers and other woodland birds including woodcock. Cuckoos are regular summer visitors. Raptors such as hen harrier, merlin and short eared owl are treasured visitors to the moors. The curlews' call evoke the wilderness aspect of a day’s birding here. 

There are 250 nest boxes on the estate repaired and renewed with helpful funding from SBSG.

Feeders at Hollin Bank are regularly topped up by the site warden in the winter months and a new project to create a sustainable feeding area by seeding verges was started this spring.

The BIG surprise of 2020 was the arrival in the Peak District and long stay of a female bearded vulture (lammergeier) from the French Alps, which provided enjoyment to thousands of observers and was regularly seen flying over the estate.

In 2018, important grip blocking work was completed on the moor above the main edge (White Moss) to rewet the moorland and encourage more moorland breeding bird species. It’s not only benefited the birds, but provided opportunities for rarer moorland plants to establish and expand. 

Read more on the website.
What’s happening: ENGAGEMENT

Engaging with the ‘place’ helps make the Stanage North Lees Estate a unique place to enjoy. Our Engagement activities include school and higher education visits and talks, health initiatives, and bespoke guided walks covering a myriad of subjects such as the local fauna and flora, local history and folklore, archaeology and recreation, along with work to target diverse audiences.

There is also the chance to enjoy and contribute with group activities through the Peak Park Conservation Volunteer programme. Examples of their work include habitat creation and enhancement, dry-stone walling, fencing, and footpath restoration works.

Volunteer patrol rangers play an important role in looking after the area by interacting with the various recreational user groups and visitors to spread vital messages on behaviour and how to care for this special place.

Members of Dronfield U3A Dry Stone Walling Group have been busy repairing various boundaries around the Estate, particularly at Ridgewayside (which is all finished until something else falls down), and around the farmyard area.

You can find out more on the website.

Peak District National Park Foundation news

Getting close to nature is more important than ever for our health and wellbeing. It’s also vital that we all play our part in looking after our precious landscapes – and the Peak District National Park Foundation is at the forefront.

The Foundation is delighted to have reached its #70kfor70 target, thanks to great support. The campaign set out to raise £70k ahead of the Peak District’s 70th anniversary (in April 2021).

Every penny raised goes into great projects, so far these include:

  • Uniforms for Junior Rangers.
  • Changing Places fully accessible toilet facility at Millers Dale Station, working with Accessible Derbyshire.
  • Transport to allow people living in urban areas around the Peak District to walk in the national park, working with Peak District Mosaic.
  • Landscape conservation work through the South West Peak Landscape Partnership.

To show your support and find out more about the work of the Foundation, you can:

  • Sign up to the Foundation's e-newsletter.
  • Buy a Phil Sproson calendar (pictured above) - a donation from every sale goes to the Foundation.
  • Donate instead of sending Christmas cards. Text 'Donate peak 1' to 88802 you will receive a text back asking you to confirm how much you would like to give.
  • Take on a challenge or organise an event.
  • Follow the Foundation on social media: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  • Visit the website.

Diary dates

The Steering Group will continue to hold monthly online meetings over the winter.

We will publicise dates for public events, including Heritage Open Day and the next Open Meeting, in spring 2021.


Did you know?

Written records suggest was a settlement at North Lees as early as 1306. The existing grade II* listed Tower House (North Lees Hall) dates from 1594 and probably replaced an earlier Elizabethan timber-framed hall house.

Do let us know of any fascinating or unusual facts about Stanage. We'll use them here, if we can.

Who we are

The Stanage Forum is a unique consultative body representing the views of the many and diverse users of the Estate, which advises on issues affecting the Estate and its users and residents. 

Our vision is to care for, enjoy and promote understanding of Stanage-North Lees in a sustainable way which respects and enhances wildlife, heritage and landscape for everyone, forever.

The Steering Group is made up of representatives of the different user groups including: local residents, the British Mountaineering Council, Derbyshire Soaring Club, Sheffield Bird Study Group. North-Lees Heritage Action Group, horse riders, tenants at the Hall and Farm, and neighbouring landowners. From the Peak District National Park Authority, we have representatives from visitor experience and outreach, as well as the estate ranger, and a nominated Member of the Authority.
You are receiving this newsletter because you asked to be kept informed about Stanage Forum Open Meetings at a previous Open Meeting, or because you have expressed an interest in the work of the Stanage Forum.

We intend to circulate information about Stanage Forum activities twice a year.

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Content © Peak District National Park Authority 2020. Not for further distribution beyond intended recipient without prior approval.