York & North Yorkshire

Hackfall woods wins Europa Nostra conservation award

Hackfall woodland near Ripon. Copyright: The Woodland Trust
Image caption The restoration of the gardens has taken five years

A North Yorkshire landscaped garden has become the only British winner of a major European conservation prize.

Hackfall, near Ripon, received the 2011 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage at the Europa Nostra Awards.

The award was given for the restoration of the 18th Century woodland garden which is run by the Woodland Trust.

Restoration work, funded by a £1m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, was completed in 2010.

The garden, which is set in a 350ft (107m) gorge on the edge of Grewelthorpe, was acquired in the mid-18th Century by John Aislabie who was responsible for the gardens at nearby Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

His son, William, transformed the area into a wilderness of grottos, fountains, waterfalls and temples.

'Truly special'

The Woodland Trust took over in the 1980s and, working alongside the Hackfall Trust, has restored the gardens to their original 18th Century beauty.

Apart from the HLF grant, the project also received support from the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Yorventure, through funds generated by Yorwaste Ltd, and the North Yorkshire Aggregates Grant Scheme.

Image caption Visitors can now enjoy restored water features and woodland walks

Paul Mosley, from the Woodland Trust, said the award was "rewarding" for all involved in the project.

"We're grateful to all the funders, professionals and volunteers that have given their time and money to turn Hackfall into something truly special," he added.

Architects, ecologists and hydrologists worked to reveal the original design of the gardens, recreating dramatic vistas, restoring follies and bringing lost ponds, paths, cascades and weirs back to life.

Elena Bianchi from the Europa Nostra Awards said that the jury had been "captivated" by the authenticity of the restoration work.

"England is renowned throughout Europe for its wealth of landscaped gardens and woodland walks.

"The spectacular example of Hackfall, with its romantic follies and breathtaking water features, had been lost for nearly a century."

The award will be presented to the Woodland Trust and Hackfall Trust at a ceremony in Amsterdam in June.

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