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ECOnet Partnership

The Dovecote Peckforton completed
28PanelAtBickerton
WI assisting kids hedge planting

The Sandstone Ridge ECOnet Partnership supported over 162 local projects between 2005-09 through an annual grant aid programme. The main focus of enhancing wildlife at a landscape scale also helped to restore historic features, improve access for local people and visitors, raise the appreciation of the area, support traditional rural skills and encourage active participation in the local environment.

Over £635,000 was provided in grant aid by Cheshire County Council over the four years, attracting over £1.8million in investment from other sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cheshire Rural Enterprise, private funds and volunteer time. Key outputs included:

  • Creating or restoring over 90ha of biodiversity action plan target habitats
  • Restoring/planting over 20 km of hedgerow — the equivalent distance between Helsby and
  • Bickerton.
  • 1.9 km of new or improved access routes
  • 2 'easy access' routes installed at Bickerton and Helsby Hill (National Trust properties)
  • 6 interpretation panels installed
  • New guidebook for the Sandstone Trail supported
  • Assisted in the creation of the Cuddington link in the Delamere Horse Riding Loop
  • Environmental projects at 4 local primary schools (Eaton, Kelsall, Delamere and Bickerton) and encouraging pupils to be actively involved in hedge planting schemes on neighbouring farms
  • Enhanced educational access facilities — Support given for specially adapted trailers at Depmore Farm, Kingsley (70 educational access visits in 2008) and Meadowbank Farm, Broxton to take school groups and others around the farm.
  • Creation of education rooms in former barns at Castleside Farm, Beeston and Meadowbank Farm.
  • Over 800 metres of drystone walling repaired using local sandstone
  • Restoration of a 19th century dovecote associated with Peckforton Castle
  • 6 Iron Age fort reconstruction drawings
  • Restoration of a parkland lake and 2 mill ponds
  • Conversion of a derelict smithy building to a bunk barn

The progress made during these four years was continued through the 'Habitats and Hillforts Landscape Partnership Scheme' supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (2008-12).