‘Change is in the air’: a stay at a rewilding project in Yorkshire

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The Broughton Estate dates back to a time when wolves still roamed England. Now they are working to restore this ancient landscape – and provide a sanctuary for guests to recharge

When Roger Tempest inherited Broughton Estate at the age of seven, tadpoles flowed from the taps and the main house was so exposed to the elements that in winter the billiard table gathered a light dusting of snow. The family dined in hats and gloves. The land had been given to his ancestors in 1097, in the aftermath of the Norman invasion, when wolves still roamed England. For almost a millennium, these 3,000 acres on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales have mirrored the history of our land: the enclosures, the persecution of predators, deforestation, modern agriculture and the gradual eradication of the wild. Today, Broughton is part of a new conversation about land use that could rewrite the book on what England looks like.

Roger is the 32nd generation, and that weight of history came with a certain responsibility. Astronomically expensive to run and managed by people not predisposed to management, many English estates were being dissolved. But when Roger came of age, he was determined to save the place. It was the late 1980s, and the fax machine was enabling offices to be set up in places hitherto unimaginable. He built a business park in the crumbling barns which breathed new life into the place. Today it houses 52 companies with more than 700 employees. With the estate solvent, other changes became possible, to the extent that it was recently described by Alastair Driver, director of Rewilding Britain, as “the most rapidly transformational” rewilding project in the country.

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