OPPORTUNITY is still available to take part in one of the most spectacular festivals championing the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. And autumn and its magnificent colours is an ideal time to indulge.

This year's Flowers of the Dales Festival has offered the chance to explore the Yorkshire Dales countryside with events including a woodland photography workshop, fungal foray and guided walks designed to make the most of this special time of the year.

Now in its ninth year, the celebration of wildflowers and nature in the Yorkshire Dales has seen more than 33,000 people take part in events led by passionate experts and enthusiasts.

Coordinated by local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) and sponsored by Parkfoot Holiday & Park Homes, the 2017 festival showcases some of the region’s nationally and internationally important habitats which support many native species of wildflowers, insects, birds and mammals.

Flowers of the Dales Festival aims to celebrate the glorious range of wildflowers, their habitats and the species they support.

It also gives everyone an opportunity to appreciate and understand the importance of conserving them.

YDMT’s Flowers of the Dales Project Officer, Leah Cardus, said: “We are very lucky to have such a rich and vibrant landscape on our doorstep.

"The festival offers people of all ages a chance to learn something new and gain a greater appreciation of the special landscape and the wildlife that thrives here - autumn is a great time to get involved.

"We’re very grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their ongoing support which helps to make this annual Festival possible.”

Upcoming events include an arts and crafts exhibition in Gargrave Village Hall, between October 19 and 22 where work by local artist will be on display, often inspired by the local landscape flora and fauna.

Young families looking for half-term activities might consider the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ‘Bats and Beasties’ events, with a museum trail and Halloween crafts at the Dales Countryside Museum, in Hawes, between October 21-29.

Also still available is a salmon walk at Stainforth Foss where it is hoped to spot the magnificent fish on Tuesday, October 24, the following day, Wednesday, October 25, people can explore the variety of fungi at Ingleton National Nature Reserve and on Saturday, October 28, there is a chance to enjoy an autumnal walk in Wensleydale. organised by the Yoredale Natural History Society.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “Our players have raised £1,226,332 for Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust to date, enabling the team to deliver many varied projects, including the annual Flowers of the Dales Festival.

"The wide range of events provides opportunities for people of all ages to explore the natural environment, be inspired to visit the countryside and perhaps learn something new.”

The full programme includes events ranging from guided walks and bumblebee talks, to family-friendly nature trails and bug hunts, to identification courses, hands-on conservation activities, arts and crafts.

The Yorkshire Dales has a remarkable variety of wildflowers thanks to its internationally important habitats.

With wildflower-rich hay meadows and pastures, open heather moorland, ancient woodland, moorland fringes and unique limestone pavement, it makes the Yorkshire Dales one of the most important protected areas in the UK.

It is a stronghold for many rare or nationally scarce plants and animals which conservationist stress must not be taken for granted.

Many species and ecosystems were in danger of disappearing due to threats like habitat loss and climate change and it was important to act now to help protect them for future generations, they urge.

Since 2009 more than 33,000 people have enjoyed taking part in the festival which offers a host of fun and exciting events. These events are run by a wide range of organisations and individuals.

To date the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust has helped to deliver a range of inspiring projects worth more than £28 million in the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding areas.

These projects cover areas as diverse as countryside apprenticeships, supporting local businesses, education and outreach, restoring woodlands and wildlife habitats, and conserving heritage features.

The full festival programme can be downloaded from www.ydmt.org/festival.