Next Generation of Countryside Custodians

logo: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

Over the last decade, many young people from across the Yorkshire Dales have completed bespoke rural apprenticeships, courtesy of local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT).

During this time the scheme has been through several incarnations, and has been known by a number of different names, but the aims have always remained constant:  

Woodland learning (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)
Woodland learning (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)

To provide young local people with a potentially life-changing opportunity to gain the qualifications, experience and rural skills needed to manage the Yorkshire Dales landscape sensitively and sustainably.

Jo Boulter, project co-ordinator at YDMT, said: “Opportunities for young people in the Yorkshire Dales can be limited, so it's a real pleasure to be able to help secure exciting local employment and personal development opportunities for our trainees. By providing financial support and expert advice to a range of local businesses wishing to employ an apprentice, we’re able to help them grow their organisation whilst passing on their knowledge and skills. It is an important investment in the next generation of custodians for this fantastic rural landscape, and I hope the project will continue to go from strength to strength.”

The apprentices gain hands-on work experience over two years through placements with local employers, complemented by part time college study for a Level 2 Diploma, and specialist certificated training courses, such as chainsaw and brush cutter use, off-road driving, habitat surveying and tree planting, to name just a few.

The apprenticeships have led to many success stories over the years, with many of the young people finding themselves well placed to forge ahead on their chosen path of personal development, whether that be further education, or a fulfilling career in environmental conservation and countryside management.


Zach Thompson (far left) – one of the tractor team at Dinsdale  Moorland Services (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)
Zach Thompson (far left) – one of the tractor team at Dinsdale Moorland Services (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)

Case Study - Zach Thompson

An apprentice with Dinsdale Moorland Services from 2010-2012.

Zach came into the scheme at the age of 18 with 7 GCSEs and a diploma in countryside management, specialising in game keeping. Although this was similar to the course being offered, it was sufficiently different to be able to offer him a place. His placement at Dinsdale Moorland Services gave him a wide variety of opportunities including travel to jobs in Wales, Northern Ireland, Bristol and Warwickshire.

As well as gaining his Level 2 Diploma in Environmental Conservation, Zach collected the following certificates: Health & Safety, First Aid, Pesticides PA1, PA2 and PA6, Chainsaw CS30 and CS31 and B & E Trailer test. He also attended a fencing dayand a woodland management day.


Zach’s job included heather regeneration (seeding, brash spreading, gully blocking etc), bracken spraying, the installation of paths, tracks and parks, creation and restoration of lowland mires and the building of mountain bike tracks.

After completing his apprenticeship Zach continued working at Dinsdales for a time.

Now Zach is self-employed and using the skills and experience he gained through the scheme to provide a variety of countryside management services across the region.

Arkady Bogg-Hargroves repairing a gate (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)
Arkady Bogg-Hargroves repairing a gate (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)

Case Study - Arkady Bogg-Hargroves

An apprentice with Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority from 2013-2016.

Working with Rangers, Arkady carried out a range of practical tasks, including maintenance and restoration of rights of way (paths, fences, walls, gates, stiles, signs etc) as well as working with volunteers, school groups and the Young Rangers.

Having completed his Level 2 Diploma in 2015, Arkady was one of three students who went on to complete a Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Environmental Conservation - a first for both YDMT and Craven College who had not offered this qualification before.

As well as gaining his Level 2 & 3 Diplomas in Environmental Conservation, Arkady collected the following certificates: Health & Safety, First Aid, Pesticides PA1 and PA6, Brushcutter, Chainsaw CS38 and CS39, ATV driving and B & E Trailer test. He also attended a mountain rescue scenario training day and an outdoor group leadership day.


When his placement with the National Park Authority came to an end, Arkady received glowing reports from his managers and colleagues. Comments included: “The bar has been raised so high - Arkady will be a hard act to follow.”

Thanks to the wealth of experience gained through the apprenticeship scheme, Arkady received multiple job offers. He has recently taken up a position at Webbers Forestry which will allow him to specialise in his favoured field of arboriculture.

The Future

YDMT will be working with 20 more young local people, aged 16-24, over the next four years through the new ‘Dales and Fells Trainee Scheme’.

Mountain rescue scenario training (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)
Mountain rescue scenario training (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)

Building on the success of previous schemes, YDMT will offer exciting two-year apprenticeships with employers including Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Conservefor Ltd, Marsden AES Ltd, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Garden Doctors, Sedbergh School and Horton Landscaping.

Initially the charity is looking to recruit ten young people by July, ready to begin apprenticeships by September 2016. Ten more placements will be available in the future with a start date of September 2018.

These opportunities are available through two new programmes: Stories in Stone which is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund thanks to National Lottery players, and Green Futures, part of Our Bright Future - a forward-thinking social movement of 31 projects funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.

For more information please contact Jo Boulter at Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust:
tel: 015242 51002 email: web:

First published in CJS Focus on Countryside Skills (traditional & modern) with Field Studies Council (FSC) on 23 May 2016