Matt Neale is the Area Manager of the North of the Park and is officially based at Yoredale. His area covers the parishes of Bainbridge, Hawes, High Abbotside and Low Abbotside in the north of the National Park. It's the section of Wensleydale above Aysgarth.
Matt Neale is responsible for developing and setting rights of way targets, area management and overall responsibility for health and safety. Matt also managers the Area and Access Rangers for his area.
Area Rangers Nigel Metcalfe (Wensleydale) and Michael Briggs (Swaledale) are the main point of contact for local communities. Nigel and Michael work with Parish Councils and other community groups to find funding and deliver projects that conserve or enhance the area. They also take the lead on larger access projects.
Access Rangers Paul Sheehan (Lower Wensleydale), James Firth (Upper Wensleydale), and Ian Broadwith (Swaledale), are responsible for maintenance of the rights of way network, including replacing signage, repairing bridges, clearing vegetation and helping landowners with stiles and gates.
Matt says: 'Much of my work is supported by a great team of Dales Volunteers, who reliably give up much of their time to help us achieve our purposes. We also have the assistance of a team of 52 trained Dales Volunteers, who help with a wide range of activities including carrying out practical work and path surveying.'
We thought we would take advantage of Matt's knowledge of the area and asked him a few questions:
How long have you worked for the Authority?
I have worked for the YDNPA since 1992.
Please give brief details of any particularly interesting projects that are currently being undertaken in your area:
The Swale Trail is an exciting cycle based project, which will give families and those less confident with riding technical bridleways a great opportunity to explore Swaledale on bike. The trail will hopefully be open by Easter 2018. I am also really pleased that the Authority is addressing the issue of wildlife crime, particularly the illegal raptor persecution that takes place in this National Park.
What do you enjoy most about working for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority?
The variety of the work that we get involved in and the range of folks that I get to meet. There are some great characters in the hills!
What is your favourite place to visit in the your area?
High Seat summit cairn above Mallerstang Edge is a great place – superb views west across the Howgills towards the north Lakes as well the rest of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This place is right on one of the great watersheds of northern England, with the River Ure, Swale and Eden all rising within a mile or so.
Do you have a favourite walk/activity you enjoy in the Dales?
Fell running – there are some great places to go, especially if you get your map out and explore some of less visited areas. There is some very arduous ground, that makes a good challenge. I’m no racking snake though, more of a plodder who likes a bit of distance in a run….
Phone: 01969 666220
Mobile: 07818 048759
Post: Dales Countryside Museum, Station Yard, Hawes, North Yorkshire DL8 3NT