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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', is a £166,000 partnership project that sees 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 just under two years (until August 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 nature 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 half way through the project and delivering many of the actions outlined in the Plan. We've already coordinated the third and biggest Dark Skies Festival so far and have a number of activity friendly initiatives that businesses can sign up for. If you're an accommodation provider, 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.

Starmakers initiative 

The North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks have recruited a band of potential Starmakers or astro-guides to meet the booming interest in stargazing and the night sky. The Starmakers initiative will provide practical and theoretical training on astronomy, aimed at navigating the night sky with the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes. The training will also help develop presentation skills with guidance on how to run an astro-tourism event in the local area, whether that’s the National Parks or the two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the Howardian Hills and Nidderdale.

In return for the free training the Starmakers will deliver or support a small number of sessions free of charge, working with accommodation providers, attractions and local communities to host ticketed astronomy events throughout the Dark Skies Festival.  

The training will be completed by the end of autumn 2018 so the first tranche of astro-guides can help support the fourth Dark Skies Festival in February 2019. The festival will take place across various locations within the National Parks and AONBs between 15 February and 3 March.

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.