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Our history

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 respect, protect and enjoy.

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’.

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.

Friends of the Peak District

As well as being the local CPRE branch, we also fulfill an important role on behalf of the Campaign for National Parks (CNP). We represent CNP in dealings with the Peak District National Park Authority, and we do this as ‘Friends of the Peak District (FPD)’. We removed the membership option for FPD in 2020, and now all of our work, right across South Yorkshire and the National Park is supported by the membership of, and donations and legacies to, CPRE PDSY.

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 at or phone 0114 312 2002 for further information.