Our history

Ethel and Gerald Haythornthwaite

Ethel Haythornthwaite was the founder of our charity. Together with her husband Gerald, they saved areas such as Edale, Mam Tor, Blacka Moor and the Longshaw Estate. They were pivotal in establishing the Peak District as Britain’s first national park in 1951 and Sheffield’s Green Belt in 1938. They prevented a racing circuit near Dovedale and stopped a motorway through Longdendale. They strived to ensure responsible quarrying, where the balance of economic need and landscape protection is matched. Following their deaths, the financial legacy they left this charity allowed this vitally important work to continue.

Continuing their work

As we approach our centenary year, the need to continue the work they cared so passionately about is as real as ever. We are experiencing the biggest shake-up of the planning system since 1947. We are facing the impact of an unstable world economy, which affects not just our charity’s income, but those of the communities whose livelihoods are integral to a thriving countryside. We are becoming more aware of the effect that climate change is having on our landscapes and wildlife.

Our work is vital, but sadly, it isn’t cheap. To continue it in the future we need more support from people who are passionate about the Peak District and South Yorkshire countryside, to help us generate sufficient income to maintain this work.

You can help

Please consider making a donation or becoming a member.

Some highlights from our history

 1924   We began as Sheffield Association for the Protection of Local Scenery.
 1927   We became a branch of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England
representing Sheffield and the Peak District. There was no statutory planning
control, no Green Belt, and the Peak District was not a national park.
 1931   Our first big success came when we raised funds to buy the Longshaw Estate
and save it from development. We handed it over to the National Trust for
future preservation.
 1932   The first Town and Country Planning Act was passed, and six years later
Sheffield introduced the very first plans to protect countryside from urban
 1938   Sheffield established the first Green Belt in the country, slightly pre-dating
 1951   Dues in major part to our lobbying and influence, the Peak District became the
UK’s first national park.
 1955   We stopped a 200 mph racing circuit being built just north of Dovedale.
 1977   We helped save Longdendale/Woodhead Pass from a motorway.
 2005   Created multi-£million scheme to remove ugly electricity poles and wires in
 2008   Saved Stanton Moor from devastating quarrying.
 2010   Prevented illegal quarrying from further damaging Longstone Edge.
 2012   Secured £500million to underground pylons in NPs.
 2013   Secured Traffic Regulation Orders for Long Causeway, Chapel Gate and the


Find out more

If you want to find out more, and you represent a club, a group or an organisation looking for an interesting speaker, please get in touch about our speaker service.

We can come out and give a talk to local groups and societies about our important work protecting the countryside locally; or about the Peak District Boundary Walk.

We can tailor a talk to between 30 minutes and an hour. We ask for a minimum of a £75 donation.

To find out more, or to book a speaker, please email us or ring us for further information

We’re working for a countryside that’s rich in nature, accessible to everyone and playing a crucial role in responding to the climate emergency. With a local CPRE group in every county, we’re advocating nationwide for the kind of countryside we all aspire to: one with sustainable, healthy communities and available to more people than ever, including those who haven’t benefited before. We stand for a countryside that enriches all of our lives, nourishing our wellbeing, and that we in turn nourish, protect and celebrate.

We’ve worked for almost a century to support and promote the countryside, and we’ll be doing this for generations to come. That’s why we call ourselves ‘the countryside charity’.

Speaker service
Archive project
Quernmore landscape