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‘Chalkshire’: Britain’s Most Northerly Chalk Outcrop

Chalk is a defining feature of the landscape in East Yorkshire and eastern North Yorkshire – whether it is visible or beneath our feet. It gives character to our coastline, makes distinctive uplands and provides a rich and diverse habitat. Running through this landscape is a complex system of springs, streams and groundwater which sustains and promotes life through and beyond this hidden landscape gem. 

The largely unrealised significance of our chalk landscape provides a compelling reason to bring together a wide range of interested people and organisations to have a conversation about this unique landscape and how we value, manage and interact with the water, heritage and wildlife within it. 

This conversation started at a launch event held in April 2019 which attracted over 110 people and was built upon at a stakeholder engagement workshop in November 2019 where 85 delegates explored the key themes of economic development, community, biodiversity, heritage and water and geology in the context of the chalk landscape. To date, these events have enabled novel links between business and community, including farming, higher and further education, rural SMEs, U3A groups and land owners as well as links with local government and national bodies such as Historic England and The Woodland Trust. 

Although progress on developing Chalkshire has stalled somewhat due to the pandemic and the massive changes in the working lives of many people, monies have recently been secured through the Environment Agency’s Water Environment Improvement Fund to carry out a development phase which will focus on the key areas and themes identified during engagement events held last year. 

Work has just begun on investigating three key landscape areas as case studies. Site walkovers and surveys looking at the sites as they are now will be related back into the historic elements of the landscape areas, along with some opportunity mapping of their future potential. The three areas include the feeder chalk streams flowing off the West Wolds scarp into the Derwent; the Thorpe Hall estate in Rudston; and a suite of dew pond sites on the high Wolds. The last two areas also explore the link to the Gypsey Race chalk stream and its landscape significance in an otherwise dry landscape.

This latest phase of work is due to run until March 2021 and will culminate in a report that will summarise the findings and put forward ‘next steps’ with the overall aim of showing how a landscape-scale initiative such as Chalkshire could work in reality whilst highlighting the linkages across different disciplines and sectors, all of which are connected by the chalk geology of the region.

For further information, please contact Jon Traill, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at: 


Ultimately, with strong community backing and cross-sectoral interest, the aim of Chalkshire is to bring significant investment into our area through an ambitious programme of work that will support the priorities set out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. 

‘Chalkshire’ is the flagship project of the Hull and East Riding Catchment Partnership, which is part of a national network of Defra-sponsored partnerships that promote a catchment based approach to river management. 

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Chalkshire Chalk Stream
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Chalk Cliffs
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Chalkshire Biodiversity
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Chalkshire Wolds Valley