Summer 2021 Newsletter
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Summer 2021 Newsletter

Above: High Gardham

The view from High Gardam looking north captures the sweep of the Wolds from the field in the foreground, then left, the High Wolds beyond the Dalton Estate woodland, curving across the horizon towards Flamborough off to the right. This is the Northern Chalk that is in the news at the moment.

Lockdown is gradually being eased and local attractions are cautiously opening their doors to visitors. You will be receiving information about some forthcoming events including an AGM/EGM where the status of the Trust will need to be discussed. Your suggestions and advice are eagerly sought.

The Northern Chalk

There’s something unique about the Yorkshire chalk. It’s not just that it is the most northerly chalk you’ll find in England, although it might be partly because of that. If you take a boat trip out from Bridlington to see the bird colonies at Bempton cliffs you may have wondered why these cliffs are not as white as the ‘White Cliffs’ of Dover. The chalk in both places is chemically exactly the same, and of the same geological age, having been formed in the same sea about 60 million years ago. About 30 million years ago plate tectonics forced Africa into Europe with uplift, folding, faulting and erosion.The resulting compression made the Chalk harder and more weather resistant and therefore more time for the accumulation of stains of guano and lichen growth than the southern chalk which is constantly eroding and exposing soft fresh white rock. You’ll find good sound buildings in and around the Wolds built of this hard chalk, even a lighthouse and the remains of a castle.

The chalk escarpment and the rolling wold tops that form the most prominent feature of the East Riding and part of Ryedale have been the subject of a number of failed attempts for special recognition or designation over the last thirty years and like red buses, none come for ages and then several arrive together. Three to be precise. I refer to “Chalkshire – Yorkshire’s Hidden Landscape”, “The Yorkshire Wolds AONB”, and “The East Yorkshire UNESCO Geopark”. They all incorporate the Wolds and need some explanation:

“Chalkshire” is the name of a village in the Chilterns but it was suggested as a catchy name for a worthy initiative aimed at people with interests in the Wolds and the watercourses associated with them. It acknowledged that the Wolds have been shaped by man over millenniaand will continue to be influenced by the people who live there. Climate change, habitat loss and inevitable new legislation in the face of changing circumstances will affect the countryside and a new partnership for the Chalk Landscapes of Yorkshire was suggested which recognised that economic activity, whether that be farming, marine or freshwater fisheries, tourism or industry, has to be part of the long term plan.

“The Yorkshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” (AONB), is one of two new applications selected by Natural England from over twenty landscape designation proposals. They make orders to designate AONBs that meet the ‘natural beauty criterion’ under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the CROW Act).  AONBs have a similar status to National Parks regarding planning, which affects things like permitted development rights. They (generally) differ in being run by local authority advisory committees whereas National parks have special authorities which decide on planning issues. A local authority must make sure that any proposals have regard for the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB with continuity and consistency over time. There are 33 AONBs in England, the nearest to the Yorkshire Wolds are the Howardian Hills AONB and the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB south of Caistor.

“The East Yorkshire UNESCO Geopark”. Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education, health& wellbeing and sustainable development by a collaboration of community-led partnerships that promote an appreciation of natural and cultural heritage while supporting the sustainable economic development of the area, primarily through geological and geo-tourism. They do not have legislative planning powers but their status could be lost if major features were affected adversely (as is the present case with Liverpool’s World Heritage status). The North Pennines UNESCO Global Geopark is the nearest of the eight UK global Geoparks.

All three suggestions could benefit the Yorkshire Wolds and none are exclusive of the others. Possibly “Chalkshire” fits in with the Geopark idea better being a “bottom up” collaboration seeking recognition, whereas AONB would be a “top down” organisation benefitting from some central government assistance.

Maybe we can take a ride on all three red buses. The will of local people is certainly there for an overarching scheme, or schemes, that ensure that all aspects of the Yorkshire Wolds keep it a good place to work, live and visit.

Information about Geoparks from Richard Myerscough (Towards a UNESCO Geopark for East Yorkshire), Chalkshire from Jon Traill (Yorkshire Wildlife Trust)

Green Lanes

We are grateful to one of our members for drawing attention to the subject of green lanes and the recreational term ‘green laning’. While public enjoyment of rural rights of way is to be encouraged in general, it must not cause inconvenience or danger to other users or to neighbouring landowners. The accompanying photograph shows the state of a green lane near Sledmere after some four wheel drive vehicles had driven through, leaving the lane deeply rutted and unpleasant for walkers and horse riders.

Green lanes are generally grassy trackways that may have been in use for hundreds of years but obviously never designed for modern motor vehicles. They are easily damaged in wet weather.

What is the official position? Some are ‘byways open to all traffic’ (BOATs) and some are ‘unsurfaced unclassified roads’ (UURs) which have possible, but unproven, rights for motor vehicles. There are rules for their use.

  • The vehicle must be fully road legal
  • Drivers must be courteous to other users and landowners
  • Travel slowly and in small groups
  • Keep to the defined track
  • Help protect wildlife, especially ground nesting birds
  • Exercise restraint in the use of unsurfaced routes in wet conditions (reputable clubs promoting ‘green laning’ ask their members to leave no mark of their passing).

Many green lanes (apart from BOATS and some UURs) do not have a right of way for motor vehicles and are simply access tracks to fields. It is illegal to drive on them, and all footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways or open land without the owners’ permission. Barriers to prevent their use by motor vehicles need to be erected with care as they should not make it difficult for legitimate use by walkers, horse riders or farm vehicles.  Maps of accessible green lanes that can be consulted for recreational use are held by Local Authorities and National Parks.

More information from:

Heritage Open Days

The 27th year of ‘Heritage Open Days’ celebrating the country’s history, culture and architecture. This year the event will take place between Friday-Sunday, 10-19 September 2021. The 2021 theme is Edible England. In case you hadn’t realised, previous themes were: 2020: Hidden Nature, 2019: People Power, 2018: Extraordinary Women. Events this year range from foraging for food to drain covers but here is a little local selection of currently registered events. More will be added:

More details from:

Wold Farmer, Paul Temple, on Shortlist for ‘Mixed Farmer of the Year’ Award

Members will recall a very enjoyable visit to Wold House Farm near Driffield a few years ago. Paul’s innovative attitude to farming by trying to work more with nature and, as a consequence, reducing dependence on chemicals is an example that other farmers are keen to take note and consumers will approve.  We wish him success in the award to be announced in October.

Little Driffield ‘Dig Camp’

A team of archaeologist from ‘Dig Ventures’ will be running practical archaeological field work at John and Henrietta Fenton’s Elmswell Farm for local schoolchildren. They will be working on the remains of a very important Roman settlement and could well contribute to new knowledge about Roman Britain.

More details from:

Sewerby Hall

The house, gardens and zoo are all open again with many new or re-vamped exhibits, self-guided trails using phone apps and a varied provision of summer entertainment for all the family. Contact: (01262) 673769

The Registered Status of the Trust

Since the trust was first set up in 1991 it has been registered with the Charity Commission as an unincorporated association. Some, not all, of the registrars of companies (whose shares Miss Dibb left to the Trust in her will) have asked for confirmation of the Trust’s charitable status. They have asked for the Certificate of Incorporation as verified under the Charities Act 1993 so that the shares can be transferred into the name of the Yorkshire Wolds Heritage Trust. If not an Incorporated Charitable Organisation (ICO) the shares have to be in a holding registered in the names of the trustees. The executive committee have looked at the pros and cons of changing the Trust status to an ICO:

A corporate structure (ICO) has the legal capacity to do many things in its own name such as:

  • employing paid staff
  • delivering charitable services under contractual agreements
  • entering into commercial contracts in its own name
  • owning freehold or leasehold land or other property

If a charity structure is a corporate body, generally its trustees aren’t personally liable for what it does.

If a charity isn’t a corporate body (‘Unincorporated Association’):

  • it will be relatively small in terms of assets
  • the trustees are personally liable for what it does
  • it won’t be able to enter into contracts or control some investments in its own name
  • two or more trustees, a corporate custodian trustee or the charities’ land holding service will have to ‘hold’ any land on the charity’s behalf.

No decision has been made, and indeed cannot be made, without being put to a vote at an AGM or special meeting. We could continue as we are or we could go through the conversion process, which needs Charity Commission approval. We would have a new registered number and maybe a slight change of name because we would no longer be a Trust.

This needs further professional advice and we would welcome any thoughts that members with any experience of these aspects of charitable status may have.

Events for 2021 (30th Anniversary Year)

Three events are being considered for the remainder of this year that will, of course, depend on the Covid situation :

  • A farm walk or garden visit
  • A postponed AGM/Special General Meeting to include a discussion about incorporated charity status
  • A Celebration Meal for the 30th Anniversary – hoping you will help to make this a very memorable occasion.


2020 was a cancelled year and possibly further inactivity in 2021 due to the uncertainty created by the pandemic. There will therefore be no subscriptions payable until February 2022. Thank you very much to members who have paid subscriptions for these two years. We hope you agree that the most practical thing to do is for you to defer payment of annual subscriptions for two years.

Have a very happy summer and hope to see you all soon from the Trust’s executive committee members