Seventy years ago this year the Peak District National Park became the UK’s original national park, designated on 17 April, 1951.
With the foundations set by a group of pioneering ramblers some 20 years earlier and the work of campaigners, the Peak District eventually paved the way for what would become a UK network of 15 national parks enjoyed today.
It was set up to protect the landscape’s natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage, to promote understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities, and to foster the economic and social wellbeing of local communities.
Seven decades on, the Peak District will share its birthday accolade alongside the Lake District, Snowdonia and Dartmoor national parks throughout 2021.
The celebration comes as more people than ever are believed to be visiting national parks as communities seek a ‘green recovery’ from the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief executive Sarah Fowler said: “The Peak District National Park has been here for everyone for seventy years inspiring the lives of thousands of residents and millions of visitors.
“Whilst no-one could have anticipated the global circumstances in which we find ourselves looking forward to this remarkable milestone, it is perhaps holding a mirror to the Peak District’s ground-breaking early years as people sought sanctuary within the open spaces that contrasted with our daily and urban lives – just as we are now.
“However we are able to celebrate – either in person or through the inspiring digital spaces available to us in 2021, I’m sure everyone will want to reflect on the difference our national parks have made throughout the country.
“We remain not only a UK family of cherished places but a global network of protected landscapes enjoyed by communities across the globe.”
Set in the heart of the UK, the Peak District National Park is now a living landscape home to around 38,000 residents, and attracting 13 million visitors a year – its proximity to countless towns and cities often finding it regarded as the most ‘accessible’ of the national parks in Britain.
The 70 year platinum anniversary date is Saturday 17 April, 2021, however, everyone is invited to celebrate throughout the year.
A series of pandemic-proof activities is available for people to join in:
70 years, 70 remarkable people
Celebrations have already begun online with the launch of ‘70 People for 70 Years’.
Read feature profiles of historic figures who were key to setting up the Peak District National Park through to inspiring personalities who are bringing the joy of national parks to the masses today.
Registered charity the Peak District National Park Foundation launched in 2019 to inspire people to explore, enjoy and support the National Park with the aim of raising £70,000 for projects across the area.
The charity is supporting conservation and access projects including: Peak District Junior Rangers, Moors for the Future Partnership, South West Peak Landscape Partnership, Miles Without Stiles, the Monsal, High Peak and Tissington Trails, Stanage North Lees estate, Peak District Mosaic, Accessible Derbyshire, Ranger led Health Walks, Fit for Work, Ride Sheffield and Peak District MTB volunteer Dig Days, and a series of Year of Green Action projects.
Poet and recording artist Mark Gwynne Jones is creating a series of audio artworks to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Peak District National Park. Chapter 1: Burning Drake and Chapter 2: Snow! are available now. Chapter 3: Kinder Scout will be released in April.
Voices from the Peak is a poetic soundscape of word and sound featuring the atmospheres, wildlife and stories of this strange and beautiful land of contrasts. Headphones recommended!
The Peak District is one of a family of 15 UK National Parks, some of which are also celebrating their 70th anniversaries this year: Lake District (May 9), Snowdonia (October 18), and Dartmoor (October 30).
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