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Destination Partnerships Moors and Dales

Stargazing experiences at Ravenscar Credit Tony Bartholomew/NYMNPAStargazing experiences at Ravenscar Credit Tony Bartholomew/NYMNPA

We have recently secured a £166,000 grant from the EAFRD Growth Programme for 'Destination Partnerships Moors and Dales', a partnership project working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and Nidderdale and Howardian Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Running for just under two years (until 1 March 2019), the project will support at least 300 businesses and will boost rural tourism by:

  • Raising the profile of the four protected landscapes  
  • Positioning the area as a year-round contemporary destination for visitors
  • Delivering out-of-season visitors by providing more off-peak activities, such as stargazing and specific reasons to visit
  • Develop and/or promote digital food and wildlife trails, new events, experiences and activities
  • Working with businesses to make them more cycle, wildlife and/or dark skies friendly

The project includes funding for business support across the four protected landscapes, and marketing and product development, particularly focused around shared special qualities and tourism experiences, such as food and drink, dark skies tourism, wildlife/nature tourism and outdoor activities (walking, cycling etc.).

One of the first steps in the project has been to develop a Destination Plan for the North York Moors, with input from businesses within the North York Moors Tourism Network. It's intended to help develop more income for businesses in and around the National Park. The latest version can be downloaded here.

We're now starting to deliver many of the actions outlined in the Plan. If you're interested in attracting visitors to enjoy our outdoor activities, dark skies, and wildlife, then find out how we can help.

Starmakers initiative 

The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks are looking to recruit a band of Starmakers or astro-guides to meet the booming interest in stargazing and the night sky. We’re keen to train more people who can share and explain more about the beauty of the night skies at organised events.

The Starmakers programme will provide practical and theoretical training on astronomy, aimed at navigating the night sky with the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes. You’ll also develop presentation skills and learn how to run an astro-tourism event in your local area whether that’s the National Parks or the two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the Howardian Hills and Nidderdale.

We’re looking for around 12 candidates to receive free training initially and in return we’d expect you to deliver a small number of sessions free of charge, working with accommodation providers, attractions and local communities to host ticketed astronomy events throughout the 2019 Dark Skies Festival.

Astro-guides will be expected to present to mixed audiences of up to 80 people and initial preference will be given to those with some existing astronomy/presenting experience. Separate to the Festival volunteering commitment, you’ll be free to charge for your services, either running your own events or assisting other businesses.

The training will be completed by autumn 2018 so the first tranche of astro-guides can help support the fourth Dark Skies Festival in February 2019, which will take place across various locations within the National Parks and AONBs.

If you’re a business and interested in learning more about our Dark Skies Festival and how you can benefit, visit the North York Moors Tourism Network


Mike Hawtin, Outdoor Activity Tourism Officer

Find out more

In the North York Moors and Howardian Hills areas, we will be working in partnership with the North York Moors Tourism Network to deliver the project. More information on the Network is available here, including how to join the mailing list, or contact us directly.


European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development logoFunding for this project has been secured from the Rural Development Programme for England, funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD): Europe investing in rural areas.

While this project does not allow the onward distribution of funds, such as providing grants to local businesses, we operate our own Tourism and Local Distinctiveness grant scheme for businesses located within the North York Moors, Coast & Hills area. 

We are expecting that some ideas generated through this project's activities will be able to access this grant scheme. Find out if your idea is eligible here.