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£3 million investment boost for Dorset’s spectacular countryside

Touring Scheme member Artsreach are part of an exciting new Heritage Lottery-funded project to safeguard and celebrate the South Dorset Ridgeway:

People living in West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland will be better able to enjoy, learn about and care for the surrounding countryside thanks to a grant of nearly £2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership, made up of 14 local organisations (including Artsreach) and led by the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is an innovative mix of archaeologists, artists, historians, landowners, naturalists, teachers and, most importantly local people. Everyone has come together to safeguard the South Dorset Ridgeway landscape, help people enjoy it and feel pride for an area that many experts consider as important as that around Stonehenge.

The Partnership will deliver a range of activities over the next five years, valued at nearly £3 million, including:  support for landowners to help wildlife, such as butterflies and Grey Partridge; create better access to the high ground of the Ridgeway so that more people can enjoy the breathtaking views; an exciting events programme including ‘Inside Out Dorset’ in 2014; help for schools to use the landscape as an ‘outside classroom’; cutting edge digital media projects to fire the imagination and breathing life back into local song and traditional crafts. 

Phil Collins, newly appointed member of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s South West Committee, said:

“As a new member of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s South West Committee I was thrilled to see such an amazing project at my first meeting! This area is so important in terms of biodiversity and is a huge asset to the South West’s tourist offer. HLF’s investment will help conserve this precious ‘landscape of our ancestors’, ensuring people from near and far can better understand its history and, most importantly, help them enjoy one of the most diverse Neolithic and Bronze Age landscapes in Europe.”

Andy Foot, Chairman of the Dorset AONB Partnership and local Farmer said:

“This landscape has been shaped by people that have lived and farmed here for 6,000 years.  The challenge for us is how we will shape it for the future.  The South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership Scheme provides abundant opportunities for the people who live and work here to enjoy this landscape, feel pride in it and make their own contribution to ensure this place retains its special character in a changing, modern world.”

The first opportunities to get involved will start later this summer and details on projects that Artsreach are running will be available soon. To find out more visit www.southdorsetridgeway.org, follow the project on twitter @LandBoneStones and join them on Facebook.