Woodlands And Wildlife

Our South Pennine woodlands have been managed over centuries so it is difficult to imagine what a genuine wildwood would resemble. Broadhead Clough high above Cragg Vale adjacent to the moorland fringe is owned by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and is a site of special scientific interest. Here fallen wood and dead wood is a key element and supports over sixty species of moss and liverwort.

Elsewhere Oak and Ash predominate, these were often restocked with Beech. Sycamore is also very common with birch scrub in many pioneer or upland sites. Managed woodland such as Hardcastle Crags will include significant stands of Scots pine or other conifers such as Norway or Sitka Spruce for timber or amenity value . Of the woodland that remains in private ownership within the South Pennines much of it is seriously neglected or over mature. Sometimes felling is necessary to break up the age structure of the woodland and open up the canopy and hence encourage light to promote ground flora.

Yellow archangel or Dog’s Mercury – Mercurialis perennis are both botanical indicators of ancient woodland.
Hardcastle Crags is famous for its Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta. They need the critical balance between light and shade that can be derived from managing the woodland canopy.

Where bluebell thrives outside woodland, in bracken, for example indicates the possible extent of former woodland.

Other important woodland species include :

Herb Robert – Geranium robertianum, Wood Avens – Geum urbanum, Hedge bedstraw – Galium mollugo, Lords and Ladies – Arum maculatum, Foxgloves – Digitalis purpurea and Hairy St John’s wort – Hypericum hirsutum.