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Map Staffordshire Moorlands Derbyshire Dales High Peak Peak District Area

About Peak Pathfinder

Changing the Face of Rural Enterprise in the Peak District



The Peak District Rural Pathfinder has completed its three-year programme to encourage enterprise amongst businesses and communities in rural areas.

The Rural Pathfinder, which was led by Derbyshire Dales District Council together with the Derby and Derbyshire Economic Partnership, set up new initiatives designed to help rural communities become more enterprising. 

A key discovery of the Pathfinder was that whilst there was a wealth of business support services available, many businesses, communities and individuals were unaware that such help existed or didn’t know which organisation provided which service.

To resolve this, the Pathfinder developed a Protocol Agreement, signed by more than 18 public sector organisations, across the East and West Midlands and paved the way for the development of Peak Directions, www.peakdirections.co.uk. This website provides user-friendly information, support and guidance for businesses and community groups in the Peak District. Since its launch in April 2007, over 280,000 site visitors have benefited from the service.

In addition over 13,000 copies of a range of Pocket Guides have been distributed across the Rural Action Zone, covering advice on everything from engineering to the creative industries.

Pathfinder Successes

Councillor Lewis Rose OBE, Chair of the Peak District Rural Action Zone and Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, said

"The Peak District Rural Pathfinder has undertaken a considerable amount of work to improve access to the services that support business and enterprise.

It has been a new and refreshing way of delivering rural services in the Peak District.


David Wheatcroft, Chief Executive of Derbyshire Dales District Council and Chairman of the Peak District Rural Pathfinder Officer Group, added:



The challenges we now face are to ensure that learning from the Pathfinder lives on, and that our collaborative way of working is embedded in local and regional structures in the future. I also hope that, on a national level, our key messages are taken forward to ensure benefits from the Rural Pathfinders are felt for many years to come.”

A beneficiary of the work of the Pathfinder was the new Peak District ‘Rural Hub’, which locates eight organisations together under one roof. The Rural Hub is based at the Agricultural Business Centre (ABC) in Bakewell and opened in January 2008. It provides a comprehensive range of public, private and voluntary sector services.

Speaking on the culmination of his work, Rob Jones, the Peak District Rural Pathfinder Officer noted:

"Working on the Pathfinder initiative has been a very enjoyable and memorable experience. I am confident that the projects put in place by the Pathfinder and its partners will benefit communities and enterprise in ways not thought of before.

The key to future successes will be to ensure our learning is built into local and regional ways of working, and to encourage other areas to follow the Pathfinders lead”

The Pathfinder has ensured that all of the initiatives set up over its lifespan are sustainable and are able to adapt to meet local needs as required.

DEFRA Pathfinder

The Peak District Rural Delivery Pathfinder project was one of eight Rural Delivery Pathfinders set up by DEFRA.

The eight rural Pathfinders were

  • Peak District Rural Action Zone (lead by Derbyshire Dales District Council)
  • Shropshire County Council
  • Lancashire County Council
  • Fens (jointly Cambridgeshire and Norfolk County Councils)
  • Humber (East Riding of Yorkshire County Council)
  • Dorset County Council
  • Hampshire County Council
  • West Durham (Durham County Council)

Peak District Rural Action Zone

The aim of the Peak District Rural Pathfinder was to encourage enterprise amongst business and communities within the Peak District Rural Action Zone.

The Peak District Rural Action Zone i

was the rural arm of the Derby and Derbyshire Economic Partnership and covers Derbyshire Dales, High Peak and parts of Staffordshire Moorlands and the Weaver Ward in East Staffordshire.

Derbyshire Dales District Council acted as the accountable body for the Pathfinder which received funding from the East Midlands Development Agency and Defra.

The Pathfinder Officer was based within the Rural Action Zone support unit in Bakewell, Derbyshire.

The Rural Hub, owned by Derbyshire Dales District Council and co-ordinated by Derbyshire Dales Council for Voluntary Service, is home to the Peak District Land Management Advisory Service, Social Services and Primary Care Trust Farming Health support. In addition, it houses Derbyshire Dales Council for Voluntary Service, East Midlands Business and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber, as well as Derbyshire Dales District Council’s First Stop Shop.


Pointer List of Members with Logos, Links and Details


About Peak Directions

The website has descriptive links that signpost support and information to assist enterprise in the Peak District.

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