Pathways Consultancy were brought in by the National Trust and the team at Stowe Gardens with the aim of better understanding the surrounding community and exploring ways of working with partners in the community to make use of Stowe as a resource, and to strengthen local connections.

We were asked to focus on ‘hard to reach’ audiences, particularly those from more deprived sections of society. Our task was to begin making contacts with these groups and find out how they may be interested in accessing Stowe, and whether they would also benefit from Stowe team members going into the community and sharing their experiences in the groups’ own space.

We enjoyed the chance to work with the team at Stowe and deepening our understanding of the issues facing such a site. It is hoped that this work could feed into wider change within the organisation.

Four years ago Pathways supported Alexandra Park’s bid for lottery funding by running an exciting Spaceshaper event in which over 40 people gave their views on how well the park worked for the community. The Spaceshaper event in 2010 included: a welcoming buffet lunch; one to one questionnaires; a walk around the park to assess eight key areas of the park’s performance; a facilitated discussion to assess the quality of the Park and it ended by setting goals for key areas of the Park’s development.

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We were therefore really happy to be invited back this autumn to see how the work on the Park has progressed since it won Heritage Lottery Funding and to facilitate discussions about how local people might be involved in the long term management of the Park.

This kind of work is very close of our hearts – we really enjoying supporting projects in green spaces to become clear about what they are doing and how they can do it better. For example in the last few years we have: worked to support community engagement events in Dunwood Park, Oldham; evaluated work in the Lake District’s Fix the Fells project and helped to facilitate discussions between environmental organisations on possible partnership work around peat conservation.

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Lunchtime play at Brookburn Primary School, Chorlton won’t be the same again! Children now have an amazing natural playground to enjoy – there are great climbing trees, lots of natural building materials, a dry stream bed, edible hedge, willow tepees and a mud kitchen. The ‘Den’ was designed by May Molteno and built by a really hardworking team of parent volunteers who were led and trained by Andrew Sheridan. The Den is already loved by the kids and staff.

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Activize Your Life is a project which runs out of Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Environment Centre at Seven Acres Local Nature Reserve, Bolton. Better thought of as a series of projects and activities, it offers people living in nearby Breightmet and Tonge the chance to volunteer for wildlife, to access training, improve their health and wellbeing, increase their contact with other people in their community and it encourages young people to get involved in community activities for the first time.

The Trust has worked to offer activities that meet local needs in the first instance rather than the more traditional wildlife activities that you might expect a Wildlife Trust to set up – so the projects range from Buggy Zumba to Seven Acres Squad; Choir to Urban Adventurers and Health Walks to Nature Tots.

We celebrated people’s involvement by in Spring 2014 writing eight short profiles – they tell each person’s story – how they got involved, what they have done in the project and what being part of it has meant to them.

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Between March and June 2013 we worked for Yorkshire Peat Partnership to explore the issues around the possible creation of a strategic Peat Partnership covering the whole of the Pennine Chain from the Scottish borders to the Peak District. Valuable work is already going on to restore degraded upland peat bogs but could a strategic partnership tap into other funding, co-ordinate work and speak collectively to regional and national bodies? Our work to assess the appetite for the partnership involved 62 in depth interviews and three stakeholder workshops.

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The Foreshore is the northern shore of the Derwentwater close to Keswick. It boats stunning scenery and unrivalled views of the lake and surrounding mountains. A £1.25 million Heritage Lottery funded project to revive the Foreshore began in 2009. Our evaluation in late 2012 included a literature review, stakeholder interviews, a visitor survey to gather the views of 100 visitors and a stakeholder workshop to assess the quality of the site on completion.


A wonderful festival to celebrate the parks 100th birthday and its official reopening after a major programme of restoration funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Oldham Council. The sun shone and over 2500 people packed the park to seek out gorillas and boggarts; be thrilled by tight rope walkers and puppeteers; go home with painted faces and wearing willow crowns and enjoy a one man band, a traditional brass band and the evening finale by Biggles Band!

Dunwood park centenary celebration

Back during the winter of 2009 – 2010 the Pathways team led on the consultation as part of the Lakes to Dales Landscape Designation Project on behalf of Natural England.  The project looked at whether certain areas between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks should be designated as National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

We worked with Countryscape to lead the consultation, which involved setting up and delivering a number of drop-in events across the counties.   The photos you see here are taken at some of those meetings that we held, all in spite of the heavy snow the fell during this winter.

Recently it has been announced that officials from Natural England have approved extensions.  If confirmed by the Secretary of State, it will see the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales National Park expand to encompass another 162 square miles.

This extension would see the inclusion of parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang to the north, and to the west, Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fells, the River Lune and part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the river.

Kerry and Sophia from our team have been out interviewing at Dukes Drives, Salford’s newest country park.  Recently we had a stall at the Escape to the City event, now we’re busy speaking to people about what they’d like to see in the area.

On Saturday three of the Pathways team – Becca, Kerry and Steve – spent the day in Salford at the ‘Escape from the City’ event with our
consultation stall for the work we are doing on Dukes Drive Country Park.

They had a fantastic spot amongst the trees with a great view of the stage and interviewed over 60 people throughout the day.  The event organisers were so friendly and helpful, providing them with a table and chairs and even assisting them with their bunting arranging!

They brought along some colourful flyers about the plans to turn the greenspace into a great Country Park, and of course our scarecrow Sam and some chocolates to thank the people who stopped to chat to us.

The sun had his hat on all day and they had lots of fun listening to the music, munching on chocolate and talking to people about what they would like to see in the area.  A great day had by all!