VILLAGES and rural areas will benefit from national lottery funding that will preserve and celebrate the region.

The Fellfoot Forward scheme, encompassing the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty, has received more than £2 million for the four-year project.

Its scope will reach Hallbankgate and Castle Carrock as well as further south towards Penrith.

Tom Speight, chairman of the advisory board, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for people like me, who live in this very special and relatively underdeveloped corner of the AONB, to help my community dig deeper into our heritage and landscape.”

“Hopefully it will empower us to research, share and learn together, and draw on the expertise from professionals to help us to do that – and the potential for real legacy is huge.”

Projects within the scheme will focus on school programmes, enhancing local wildlife habitats, archaeological work, and broader species conservation.

It is hoped that work on the first project will begin in February.