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Destination Partnerships Moors and Dales

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

The EAFRD Growth Programme for 'Destination Partnerships Moors and Dales', was a £166,000 partnership project that saw the North York Moors National Park working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and Nidderdale and Howardian Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Running for two years (until August 2019), the project supported nearly 400 businesses and boosted 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
  • Developing and/or promoting digital food and nature trails, new events, experiences and activities
  • Working with businesses to make them more cycle, wildlife and/or dark skies friendly

The project included 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 was 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 delivered many of the actions outlined in the Plan. We have a number of activity friendly initiatives that businesses can sign up for and are continuing post-EAFRD support. If you're accommodation, café/ tea room or an activity provider interested in attracting visitors to enjoy cycling, dark skies, nature or other outdoor activities then find out how we can help.

Another development that’s underway is a ‘Care and Share’ initiative to promote responsible and considerate use of public rights of way by the growing number of off road cyclists and runners. This initiative seeks to help educate new and existing users on how to care for the environment as well as ensuring sustainable, safe enjoyment of the outdoors for all.

Dark Skies Festival 2020

The fifth Dark Skies festival will take place across various locations within the National Parks and AONBs between 14 February and 1 March 2020. The programme has been finalised and there's over 140 events organised with lots of enthusiastic businesses. For more the information please visit our Dark Skies Festival page.

Following the booming interest in stargazing and night sky, ever fuelled by the annual festival, the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Park recruited a band of potential Starmakers or astro-guides. The 'Starmakers initiative' equipped around 20 volunteers with practical and theoretical training on astronomy. The training also helped develop presentation skills with guidance on how to run an astro-tourism event in the local area and assist astronomy experts. The free training ultimately aims to increase resources to deliver astronomy events across both National Parks and two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the Howardian Hills and Nidderdale.  


Emily Watson, Visitor Development and Marketing Assistant

Find out more

In the North York Moors and Howardian Hills areas, we work 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 was 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 did 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. 

Ideas generated through this project's activities saw a number of businesses able to access this grant scheme and put their ideas into practice.