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News Update April 2020

8th April 2020
Well, the world we thought we knew just a few weeks ago, feels like a distant memory to many of us now. The chill of winter blossoming into the richness of spring, while many of us are only able to glimpse the changes and a different chill pervades.

Covid-19 has changed how we live – we are learning about how to do more, by doing less. My mum keeps repeating to me how ‘she is not doing anything to help’. That, I tell her, is something in itself. Stay still. Allow the people who run our essential services to do their jobs. Give them space, and time, and capacity, to support us. In that stillness, we are beginning to see so much more of the details around us. Many families are facing the challenges of educating their children from home and trying to continue with ‘business as usual’.

Among so many things to be concerned about, there have been glimpses of beauty and nature – in humans and landscapes. People are worried. People are frightened for their loved ones. Yet, now is the time to pay attention. We are drawn towards each other through staying apart. Many of us are experiencing kindness from strangers. We watch wildlife from windows. See the blossoming of spring. Those more active among us find calm in tending to gardens and walking in our neighbourhoods. Children are playing on quiet roads and noticing changes in their surroundings. For some, being bound to the house and isolated is not so strange.

As each of us find our own ways to cope in these new circumstances, and adjust to this new perspective, we are finding new ways to communicate, to share affection and to work together in staying apart.

As our members will know, our Countryside Conversation and Annual AGM event was due to take place on the 25th April. This event has been cancelled in line with the government guidelines. We intend to re-arrange the AGM for later in the year. We have sent out a hard copy of the Annual Review 2019 document to our branch members. We always look forward to the AGM as an opportunity to catch up with some of our members, and find out what they have been up to. With this event now postponed, we would love even more for you to get in touch to let us know how your ‘lockdown’ is going.

Do you have a new Favourite Place, discovered through exercising in your neighbourhood? Have you been watching a particular plant come into bloom from your window? Please do post your favourite Lockdown places. We would love to hear about them.


One of the most challenging aspects of our new ways of living has been the restrictions on travel to the countryside and other open spaces. It has thrown into sharp relief some of the inequalities and difficulties in supporting everyone to access open spaces.

Marion, one of our trustees, lives on the edge of Ilkley Moor. We were conscious that many people who enjoy this and other outdoor spaces have been missing out on the changes in the season. We have been trying to reach a balance of sharing some of Marion’s observations on her walks on the Moor without rubbing salt into the wounds of those who would like to be there too. We have been posting some of her photographs, showing the shift in season, on our Twitter account @cprewestyorks. Please do follow along to see More from the Moor, or share your pictures with us. We have used some Marion’s Ilkley Moor photos in this update.

It is good to see people managing to get out for some exercise people are in walking distance from open spaces. It is always worth remembering that we share these spaces with other wildlife and that this time of year is when the grouse and other ground-nesting birds are nesting. It is especially important at this time of year to keep dogs on leads when out walking.

I have witnessed how swiftly nature fills the gaps that our current lack of human activity leaves. I hope that when we get through this current and exceptionally difficult time, that we are reminded to share our resources with more grace.

A reflective state of mind has also prompted our Planning Consultant and resident writer Andrew Wood to ponder on the role of the countryside, through the perspective of his ‘lockdown’ experience. As a society, as CPRE and as individuals we all have a responsibility to look ahead. And that fits well with our plans to have a conversation about a countryside fit for the 21st Century. With our event now postponed, we are looking at other alternatives ways to have this conversation.

We are continuing to explore the landscapes of West Yorkshire through our Ways of Seeing magazines. The latest issue was due out shortly. Due to the exceptional circumstances, we have delayed the publication to allow us time to include a degree of reflection on the situation created by the Corona Virus. We hope to get Issue #4 published for May. We hope that you have been enjoying the stories so far. If you have a way of seeing West Yorkshire that you would like to share, please do get in touch.

We are wishing you all health and kindness throughout these challenging times. We will continue to plan our next steps, staying at home to help the NHS, and looking forward to working with you for a better and brighter future.