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Bilton Conservation Group was founded by local residents on 19th May 1982 to protect and maintain the rural environment of this, the oldest part of Harrogate.  A community was first recorded here, in the heart of the Old Knaresborough Forest, in 982 AD. Harrogate’s original name was ‘Bilton-with-Harrogate’, before the Victorian town of the 1850’s swallowed up Bilton as its suburb.

The group has worked for almost 30 years with other community groups; Knox Valley Residents’ Association, the Scouts and Guide movements, The Army Apprentice College (and its successor The Army Foundation College), local schools, the Woodland Trust, National Probation Service, Nidd Valley Road Runners, Youth Justice Service, Harrogate District Naturalists’ Society, ‘Open Country’ and others – to restore footpaths and woodland, build ponds, clear ditches and watercourses, install bird boxes and improve wildlife habitat throughout the Nidd Gorge and Bilton Fields.

The wildlife has returned, wild flowers flourish, many thousands of trees have been planted and almost 200 acres of prime woodland and riverside has been bought by public subscription and put in the hands of the Woodland Trust.

The Bilton Conservation Group continues to serve the community by its traditional conservation activities – bird boxes, bat boxes, habitat improvement, pond digging, footpath work, guided walks (given), slide-talks (given and received), school field trips, wildlife recording, fundraising, tree planting, mass bulb planting (roadside verges), amphibian breeding/release programmes, botanical recording and wild flower restoration programmes.

The group is a member of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, the Nidd Gorge Advisory Partnership for Conservation and a Friend Member of the Environmental Law Foundation. We are non-profit making and have no affiliation to any political party.


Members of the public frequently contact us enquiring when our volunteers will resolve this or that problem in our local countryside – from litter and dog mess to overgrown footpaths and vandalism.

Whilst these enquiries are helpful, since they sometimes raise issues we may be unaware of, at present the group only has a limited number of volunteers to do the work.

It would be helpful to know what more support is out there amongst the wider public, as well as our loyal membership, to tackle some of these tasks.

Whatever your skills or interest we would like to hear from you.

Many Thanks  – The Committee