Warcop Fell and Army Training Area
Warcop Training Area is situated in Cumbria, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and covers approximately 24,000 acres (9,715 hectares), of which more than half is MoD freehold land, with the balance being held on lease or by licence. Large areas are used for grazing sheep on both the high and low fell.
Warcop was established in 1942, as a tank gunnery range, urgently needed to prepare for the coming invasion of mainland Europe. Most of the armoured formations which took part in the D-Day landings trained here. In the ensuring years, generations of tank crews came to Warcop, and armoured vehicles are still frequently to be seen. In 1960 the area became an all-arms facility, catering for artillery and infantry units as well as the ATR (Armoured Training Regiment) at Catterick. However, with the ATR’s demise in 1994, the training emphasis at Warcop changed, and about £2m was spent that year to construct 6 new ranges, and to refurbish existing range facilities, to ensure the concurrent training of 5 platoons with a total strength of up to 240.
Infantry recruits train for a week at a time, and the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) is at Warcop for at least 31 weeks a year, and there is also increasing pressure from many other regular users, mainly for the live firing of a wide range of weapons.
Warcop includes many conservation designations: the whole training area, including Stainmore, lies within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with the exception of the southwest corner beyond Hag Lane. There are also areas within the Appleby Fells and Upper Teesdale Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which forms part of the Moor House-Upper Teesdale Candidate Special Area of Conservation.
At Warcop, training takes place 7 days a week and for virtually the whole of the year. Night firing is also permitted on most days except for Sundays. For safety reasons, therefore, public access is restricted to public rights of way during non-firing days only: live shells and mortar bombs, some dating from the Second World War, are still found on the ranges during clearance operations. Access is permitted on the public rights of way on 12 access weekends per year, which are publicly notified 12 months in advance.
Photos by Simon Ledingham.
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