Help protect the Bridestones boulders

Posted by Claire Maxted on 04/06/2024

The Bridestone boulders are an iconic set of giant, gritstone rock formations in West Yorkshire, popular with climbers and boulderers. Right now, there is a chance to secure access to this land for all and protect the wildlife for future generations by supporting the not-for-profit, Community Interest Company (CIC) Bridestones Rewilded.

Bridestones Rewilded are a group of naturalists, ecologists and members of the local community united by a love of nature and access to wild spaces. They currently have a Crowdfunder to raise the remaining £17,000 of their £55,000 target by 16 June. If they are successful, this 114 acre site will be Calderdale’s first community-owned nature reserve. 

Director of Bridgestones Rewilded, Cath Baker, says, “I can confirm that climbers will continue to be very welcome. We want to make sure that this place can continue to be enjoyed by hill walkers and climbers, whilst we quietly restore the peat bog and let the heathland rejuvenate.

“The land is open access, and the stones have been special to people for as long as we have records of them. The Bridestone herself is a risk to climb on, for both the stone and climbers (as has been pointed out by the BMC previously), but we would welcome people to continue to climb on the other boulders."

Access & Conservation Officer (England) Jon Fullwood says, “Bridestones is an iconic gritstone bouldering venue much loved by Yorkshire climbers, sitting high on the moors near Hebden Bridge. Access is already secure as the part of the crag being purchased is on CRoW land, but it is good to know that a community-led initiative with plans to preserve and enhance the landscape and wildlife value would be taking ownership after the sale.” 

Cath Baker continues, “The footpath is on the Calderdale Way. We do not plan to do anything to change the sense of remote wildness that is loved by those who visit. What we hope is that people will notice is how the heathland bounces back once it is no longer overgrazed (cows, if any, will be for conservation grazing only, and in much smaller numbers). The land will be alive with butterflies, dragonflies and increased biodiversity as the peat bog is restored. 

“The Bridestones are special to me for many reasons. There is something magical about the wind-sculpted stones. It always feels peaceful, and gives me a tranquil sense of contentment when I am there. The views at sunset across the valley, the bubbling sounds of curlews and the iconic shape of lapwings swooping and diving in spring, somewhere to walk and gather my thoughts alone, or share time with friends. Seeing owls at dusk, or crowds of golden plover camouflaged in the landscape in the day.”

“Currently our focus is on raising the funds to secure the land. The owner has accepted our offer, and our fundraiser has already raised over £37k!  We do need to raise more, so donations will really help. We hope to buy the land with a mix of grants, a philanthropic loan, and crowdfunding. Even small donations help us evidence the breadth of people who care for grant applications, but large donations are welcome too! 

“Moving forward we will be looking for volunteers to help us to block ditches, plant sphagnum, and maintain entrances/boundaries, whilst getting a chance to meet like minded souls and learn more about this unique habitat. People are welcome to donate and/or volunteer through our website here.”

Bridestones Rewilded will:

  • increase awareness of a locally important heritage site
  • support recovery of declining species including curlew and lapwing
  • capture carbon and mitigate the impact of climate change
  • reduce flood risk downstream in the village of Todmorden
  • improve access for Disabled people
  • provide an open-air classroom for nature-based educational activities
  • create volunteering opportunities, fostering engagement with others
  • recreate a wilder place where we come together to breathe fresh air and admire magnificent views

Ths project contributes to many local and national strategies, including:

  • National 25 Year Environment Plan and Environmental Improvement Plan, including ‘30x30’, protecting 30% of land for nature and improving adaptation to climate change, 
  • UK Government’s 2030 Strategic Framework for International Climate and Nature Action
  • The Wilder Calderdale Partnership
  • Natural flood management "Slow the Flow"

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