Sharing Our Heritage - The Green Path Through Flora project

In 2016 we secured Heritage Lottery Funding to explore the heritage and natural history of the ancient green path that runs through the Fairfield Nature Reserve. This footpath has been used by Lancastrians and visitors to the city for hundreds of years.

The Fairfield Association have always been committed to pooling and sharing our knowledge and perceptions of the area and its rich past, and through the Green Path Through Flora project, we sought to capture and map the footpath’s history and the stories and memories local people had of it and the surrounding area.

One output of the project has been the design of a leaflet incorporating an annotated map of the reserve highlighting the Green Path, for visitors to download. A paper version of this leaflet has already been distributed to 2000 local houses, as well as being available in the Visitors Information Centre and many other places around the city centre:

 Fairfield Association Leaflet (with map)

Another output has been the transcribing and summarising of recordings of people who have recounted their memories of the Green Path and land adjacent to it. The remit was widened to include all the land now managed by the Fairfield Association.

Many thanks to all those who have taken the time to share their stories so far - we look forward to including them on the website as they become available. If you have any memories that you would like to share please use the Contact Us page to get in touch.

Recollections of the Green Path area:

 Recollections of farming the area | Accompanying Map
 Recollection 2
 Recollection 3
 Recollection 4

As part of celebrating the reserve and disseminating its heritage, we have also carried out the following activities:

  • held creative writing workshops and a showcase evening;
  • set up, and continue to maintain, a photographic record of 34 distinct viewpoints of the reserve, showing changes across the seasons and years;
  • created a 'History of the area' page on the website, detailing archaeological finds and other facts of local interest;
  • developed a 'Green Path' app that enables visitors to get contextualised information about the reserve;
  • held a number of community events, including a lecture at the Storey Institute in December 2016, exhibitions and volunteering opportunities in old farming techniques (click the + symbols below for photos and further details):
Sharing Heritage Exhibition, July 2016

At a community celebration to mark 20 years of the Fairfield Association, we asked people to bring along photographs and personal recollections. Around 400 people attended and we attached photographs and memories on post-its to our display boards. If you have memories or photographs dating from the early days of the Fairfield Association, please get in touch via the website.

 Sharing Our Heritage leaflet

Town Centre Exhibition 2017

This exhibition ran for longer and attracted a wider audience. We made contact with many new people, some of whom had grown up in the area and have since contributed stories to our archive of green-path-memories. Approximately 300 people came to view our photos, video footage, map and accompanying stories. Our map and leaflet were particularly useful in orienting people who had never visited the area and the video footage provided by the drone was also very popular.

Volunteer Hedging and Scything Workparties (ongoing)

Between October 2016 and March 2017 our hedgelayers achieved approximately 250 man-hours of work. Well-laid hedges are an important means of attracting birds and small mammals and also help to make the green footpath attractive for those who walk along it.

This year, confronted by the unwanted growth of thistles and rushes, some of our volunteers have taken advantage of our Sharing Heritage grant to learn how to scythe and the grant has also paid for a additional scythes. Having volunteers who are able to scythe helps us to remove rushes and hence to provide a patchwork of vegetation, which is more useful for our cattle and the wetland birds which are a feature of the area around the green path.

Storywriting with Schools

Two Lancaster schools, the Ridge and the Ryelands Community Primary schools, took part in four story workshops in the summer term as part of our Heritage project. Two classes from each of the schools joined Storyteller Tony Finn for a morning of stories and activities, to stimulate and fire their imagination for their own story-writing and telling and to be inspired by our wildlife, its folklore and the ancient trackway through the reserve that has been travelled by medieval monks and the people of Lancaster over the centuries.

The children listened to stories of birds and beasts, goblins, hidden treasure and magic apples!

After a few warm up word-play and tongue-twisting exercises, the children worked in small groups with one of the accompanying adults who had come with the class; exploring the orchard, its sights, scents and sounds and searching for their own ‘secret place’. The children then shared their experiences and were encouraged to use new words and include actions in their descriptions. With amazing imagination the groups began to put together the ‘bones’ of a story, fact or fiction, to take back to school where the stories would be completed.

Tony and his assistant Trisha visited the year 6 class of the Ridge school a couple of weeks later and were entertained by some extremely imaginative stories so obviously inspired by their visit to the Fairfield Orchard and the green path!

This project has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund focusing on 'Sharing Our Heritage'. Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to organise exhibitions, take aerial photos, develop an app and publicise the fascinating history of our local area on our website.