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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 23 June 2007
Listen to this programme in full
boat in lapworthlock
Former Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker, visits the market town of Helmsley set on the edge of the North York Moors and the Duncombe Park Estate.
 The town of Helmsley is very much part of the tourist trail between Thirsk and Scarborough. Matt discovers the impact tourism has had on the management this large agricultural estate and the tenants who live on work there.

Forty years ago Helmsley was a small sleepy town with no gift shops and just a couple of hotels that catered for shooting parties and those passing through. Now it's become a honey pot tourist town that is heaving during bank holiday periods, and hotels, guest houses and gift shops have sprouted up everywhere, with second home owners and retired townies sending house prices rocketing.

Matt starts his day by visiting the impressive 18th century house, built for the Feversham family who have owned the estate since 1695. Matt meets Ian Saggers who's managed the estate for over thirty years and Tim Tollis who's the forestry manager. Around 1,700 acres of the estate is devoted to woodland, 70% conifers and 30% broadleaf. Since the house and garden have been opened up to the public, it’s vital that the trees are maintained to be safe to visitors. Tim is also responsible for caring for the record number of ancient and veteran trees that grace the parkland.
To gain a clearer view of the estate, Matt wanders down the path to the Helmsley Riding Stables, now based in Lord Fevershams old stud yard, to meet the current owner Christopher Barker. The Barker family have run the riding stable in Helmsley for over two hundred years, but always as tennants to the estate. As Christopher and Matt take a ride across the park, Christopher explains how his family recently decided to move the yard out of the town itself As the volume of traffic has increased so dramatically it had become increasingly dangerous to tourist riders and horses alike to try to ride through the town out into the park.
Helmsley Walled Garden is a beautiful five acre walled garden in the heart of North Yorkshire, England. Dating from 1758, and set against the spectacular backdrop of Helmsley Castle in the grounds of Duncombe Park, the garden is gradually being restored to its former glory. Originally built to supply the Duncombe estate with fruit, vegetables and cut flowers, it was abandoned in the 1970's until, in 1994 extensive restoration was started to bring it back to life as a fully working kitchen garden. As the restoration expanded Helmsley Walled Garden Ltd. was formed, in 1997, as the first step to the project's charitable status, which was granted in February 1999. The garden now employs three full-time gardeners and has the support of an enthusiastic group of volunteers. About 40,000 visitors come each year to explore the paths and vine house and admire the magnificent towering walls covered in more than 250 varieties of clematis and old-fashioned fruit trees. Other original features include the central dipping pond and 250-year-old HL hinges on the garden side doors. Visitors are able to wander anywhere in the garden; visit the propagation house; discuss the plants with staff and volunteers and picnic on the lawn. The manager Ann Hill shows Matt around and explains that without the tourists visiting the town the walled garden would never have become the success it is.
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