Adventurer and rock climber Leo supports efforts to keep local woodland in safe hands

Internationally-renowned rock climber Leo Houlding is often found scaling the heights of dramatic peaks around the world such as Everest or El Capitan in Yosemite, California but he’s recently turned his attention to the more local Cumbrian landscape.

He’s backing a community campaign to keep Craggy Wood in Staveley village in public hands, following the decision taken in 2016 by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) to sell the 40 acres of ancient woodland.

Leo, who lives in Staveley, said: "Over the years we have enjoyed walking in Craggy Wood.  Now we have two young children, the delights of this ancient woodland and its rocky outcrops provide an ideal place to explore. Maintaining access and the freedom to play in Craggy Wood, as well as protecting the native wildlife, is why I whole heartedly support this bid to secure the woods on behalf of the local and wider community.”

Adventurer Leo Houlding with his children in Craggy Wood

Adventurer Leo Houlding with his children in Craggy Wood
© Leo Houlding

Staveley Parish Councillors and the village community were opposed to the decision to sell the woodland and a campaign was set up to keep it in public hands, now spearheaded by the Craggy Wood Steering Group.

The ancient woodland was bought from a private owner in 1985 by the Lake District Special Planning Board, as it then was, to preserve its diverse and environmentally important nature, but in June 2016 the National Park Authority informed the Staveley Parish Council that they were proposing to sell Craggy Wood to raise funds for other projects.

Since the wood was put up for sale the Steering Group, through the Parish Council, has had Craggy Wood designated as an Asset of Community Value by South Lakes District Council.

Anne Salisbury, Staveley Parish Councillor and Chair of Craggy Wood Steering Group, said: “Craggy Wood is a beautiful and cherished feature of Staveley village and residents were shocked to discover the plan to sell it as we thought wood was safe in public hands for the future. We have negotiated a deal with the National Park that if the local community can raise £120,000 to buy the woodland, Cumbria Wildlife Trust will take on the ownership and long-term management of the site. We need to raise £46,000 by the end of September 2018.

“Local charity, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, has an excellent record of managing woodland for conservation and amenity and already owns and manages the nearby Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood Nature Reserve.”

Donations towards the purchase of Craggy Wood can be made at http://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/appeals/craggy-wood or via a leaflet which is being distributed in the local area.

David Harpley, Conservation Manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “Craggy Wood is an important habitat for wildlife conservation and biodiversity. It’s a wonderful place to see bluebells in the spring or to listen out for the call of the buzzard and owls have been seen after dusk. Red squirrels have been sighted close by in the Kentmere valley and they too could move into Craggy Wood. It’s part of a network of woodland next to Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood and Mike’s Wood, which are currently managed for conservation and together they form an important corridor for wildlife above Staveley.”   

For more information about the campaign to keep Craggy Wood in public hands, contact Hazel Jones on 01539 816300 or email hazelj@cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk

Landscape photo of Craggy Wood sat above Staveley village in Cumbria

An appeal has been launched  to buy Craggy Wood from the Lake District National Park
© Anne Sailsbury