This Wild Land

Yorkshire Dales National Park

In this year’s programme we have a session dedicated to upland Britain. Taking three different perspectives, we will give a flavour of the wonder and the complexity surrounding these high profile (forgive the pun) landscapes.

For some, the uplands of Britain represent a forbidding wildness. Away from the safety of the tamed and fertile lowlands exists a different reality, one that is awesome, beautiful, scary, dangerous, mysterious…. best admired from a car on a bank holiday. For others, mountains and hills are playgrounds where our physicality and skills can be tested to the limit. Ropes, books and tents form the kit list for some, guns and dogs for others. And then there is wildlife, the rich assemblage that encompasses the tiny, hidden and secretive life that exists at ground level, to the impressive and muscular, like deer and eagles. When we look to the future – the uplands are where a re-wilded Britain might take hold. Wolves, lynx, wildcats may, once again, roam the land and our imaginations.

Today, the uplands are the focus of conflict. The illegal killing of birds of prey mars the sport of grouse shooting. Forestry blankets precious habitat, windfarms cause the death of bats and birds. How do we manage our uplands to be beneficial to all? Can we find a path through the anger and distrust – the conflict of interests? Our panellists are:

Dr Isla Hodgson (Mediating between wildness and other interests: Conservation in uplands)

John Altringham (Bats and caves: Discovering kingdoms beneath our feet)

Sir John Lister-Kaye (Highland tiger: Restoring an icon of wilderness)

It promises to be a fascinating session.

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