Engaging communities & businesses – CS 2

The Pennine Way People 

a case study provided by North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark, England (UK)

Volunteer programmes are designed to be mutually beneficial for both the volunteers and the host organization. Through these opportunities the volunteers are invited to become part of the team, to achieve personal goals, practise and test their own skills and discover hidden talents. It is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Geopark and the work that goes on behind the scenes. Engaging and empowering people from the local community to act in the support of their own territory also has lots of benefits for the Geopark.

three volunteers install a fingerpost on the Pennine Way
Installing a fingerpost on the Pennine Way.

The North Pennines AONB Partnership offers opportunities for volunteering in many of its projects. These range from practical habitat restoration activities and wildlife conservation, to supporting educational visits and family events. Some projects, such as Pennine Way People, are based entirely on volunteers working on specific tasks to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the North Pennines. The North Pennines AONB Partnership has brought together volunteers with a passion for the countryside and a sense of place to look after a stretch of one of the country’s most iconic walking routes.

three volunteers fix a boardwalk on the Pennine Way
Applying the finishing touches to a boardwalk on the Pennine Way National Trail.

Through the Pennine Way People project, funded by the Pennine National Trails Partnership, volunteers look after a 73-mile stretch of the Pennine Way National Trail which lies in the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark, between Tan Hill on the Cumbria and North Yorkshire border to Greenhead in Northumberland. The route attracts thousands of walkers every year and when combined with temperamental weather conditions the trail can become a victim of its own success, with the ground underfoot becoming boggy and eroded. Volunteers can take part in practical work parties, including footpath repairs and waymarking, and can apply to be allocated a specific stretch of the route to look after as its ‘champion’. Each year North Pennines AONB Partnership projects benefit from over 1,000 volunteer days.