THE ironstone industrial legacy of the North York Moors will be protected after the Heritage Lottery Fund gave £2.8 million in funding to a major new project.

Pioneering railwaymen, ironstone miners, steelmakers and railwaymen created a unique landscape in remote valleys across the moors during Victorian times.

The new scheme, entitled ‘This Exploited Land’, will tell about the heritage's importance in a sweeping arc of land stretching from Goathland and Grosmont through Eskdale to Kildale, Rosedale and Rosedale Abbey.

It will also encourage rare wildlife, ancient woodlands, wild daffodils and the special species of the River Esk.

York Press:

East Mines, stone kilns and chimney. Picture: Paddy Chambers

With match funding from the North York Moors National Park Authority, the David Ross Foundation and other partners, the total budget for the project will be £3.5million, and it will involve 46 individual projects across the area between 2016 and 2021.

These will include the conservation of iconic structures, such as ironstone kilns in Rosedale and mines in Kildale, the reconnecting of habitats and restoration of ancient woodlands, the removal of fish barriers along the River Esk, and work to encourage children to connect with and learn more about the landscape.

A spokeswoman said ring ouzels - mountain blackbirds - were an example of how the former industrial heritage had shaped the landscape for wildlife today. "These birds are associated with the belt of land on the moorland edge around the disused railway and kilns in Rosedale," she said.

"This species is a national conservation priority so by preserving this historic landscape and bolstering the habitat by providing more berry-bearing shrubs, the ring ouzel population will increase, helping to halt national long-term declines."

Andy Wilson, park authority chief executive, said the lottery funding would help ensure the story of the landscape would be a source of inspiration and pride for years to come.

"This is wonderful news for the national park and we’re very excited about starting the projects and working with the TEL (This Exploited Land) executive and local community to deliver on our vision.”

Geoff Taylor,vice-chair of the TEL Executive Group, said: "We are now enabled to preserve the extraordinary efforts of pioneering Victorian railwaymen, ironstone miners and steelmakers for future generations and that is a source of great pride. Local history groups play an increasingly important part in the life of our communities and they will take heart from this.”