Planting for the future

Alasdair Fagan – Woodland Creation Officer

I believe that most people like the idea of trees being planted – as long as they are in the ‘right place’. Small, negligible seeds unfurling to create little, delicate saplings growing on and upwards into woody giants that dominate a landscape.

But why would we purposefully plant trees?  Here are some of the benefits that tree planting/woodland creation can provide.

Habitat

Each individual tree provides a habitats. Wooded habitats are some of the most diverse habitats in England; with many birds, mammals, insects and plants specialising in woodland environments these habitats are critical for biodiversity. Creating even small areas of woodland has the potential to greatly increase the number of species in almost any landscape.
Lesser? redpoll (woodland/wetland bird). Copyright Liz Bassindale, Howardian Hills AONB.

Lesser? redpoll  – this RSPB Red status bird has suffered severe population declines in the UK. It relies on wet woodland species like birch and alder.

Connectivity

It is important to look at woodlands from a landscape scale. Connectivity is the word used to evaluate how connected/joined up otherwise isolated fragments of habitat are. It is always a big advantage for tree planting if it helps to connect existing woodland areas and so allows woodland species to move freely across the landscape.

Newly planted woodland near Skipster Hagg Woods. Copyright NYMNPA.

Newly planted woodland near Skipster Hagg Woods, Appleton le Moors. The word Hagg suggests the land here has long been wooded. This new planting is an extension of an existing native woodland, which should improve connectivity through the landscape.

Water quality and retention

It is now widely accepted that planting trees and woodlands has benefits for the management of water catchments. Woodland filters sediment and nutrient run off from the land if planted between the source and a watercourse, and so can greatly improve water quality. Also when trees are planted along a river catchment they can help to slow down the flooding effects of heavy rainfall events by increasing the porosity of the soil. Water is more readily absorbed into the soil, thanks to the roots of trees, before being released into water courses of the catchment.

Bank stabilisation

Just as trees can slow down the movement of water they can also minimise the movement of landforms. The roots of trees help bind and stabilise river banks and hill sides. Trees hold landforms together minimising erosion and the displacement of soil, the effects of which can in some cases be devastating.

Small scale riparian woodland planting. Copyright NYMNPA.

Small scale riparian woodland planting in the Esk Catchment. The opposite bank is slumping and loosing soil resource into the water. 

Shelter

Trees and woodland copses carefully located on a holding can provide useful shelter for livestock and gamebirds. It has been demonstrated that shelter provided by trees has resulted in significant reductions in cold, wet and windy weather lamb losses.
Highland Cattle on Levisham Estate. Copyright Ami Walker, NYMNPA.

Highland Cattle on Levisham Estate taking advantage of the the woodland cover on a hot day.

Climate Change

One of the causes of climate change is the release of greenhouse gases (e.g. carbon dioxide) into the earth’s atmosphere trapping heat. Trees produce energy to live and grow by using sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide through photosynthesis; a process which produces oxygen. So trees are using up Carbon Dioxide, storing carbon and generating essential oxygen.

Amenity 

As well as providing a land management tool, the presence of trees and woodlands can have positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of people. Trees and woodland are intrinsic to many landscapes, particularly so in the North York Moors. Woodlands provide amenity value as local cultural assets that can last for generations if looked after properly. Imagine the feeling of personal achievement in planting a new woodland that will grow and mature into the future, making a living mark on an evolving landscape beyond the constraints of a human lifetime.

View from Chimney Bank down into Rosedale. Copyright NYMNPA.

View from Chimney Bank down into Rosedale. Trees in the right place can really compliment the landscape and add amenity value from notable viewpoints.

The National Park Authority is looking for landowners and partners to create new woodland across the North York Moors. Funding is available for deciduous woodland planting projects of 1 hectare (2.5 acres) and above; the funding can cover the total costs of planting and establishment. If you are interested and would like more information please contact me by email or ring me on 01439 772700.

Going with the flow

Anne-Louise Orange – Ryevitalise Programme Manager

Following the success in securing Heritage Lottery Fund money to support the development of our Ryevitalise programme, the team are now in place and working towards a Stage 2 application*.

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnerships programme is for schemes led by a partnership of local, regional and national interests which aim to conserve specific areas of distinctive landscape character.

River Rye at Lower Locker, Snilesworth - copyright Liz Bassindale, HH AONB.

The Ryevitalise landscape incorporates the main upper Rye catchment, made up of the upper valleys of the Rye including the River Seph and the River Riccal. The Ryevitalise programme aims to protect and enhance the area’s natural and cultural heritage, resulting in a more natural, better functioning and better understood landscape.

River Rye in Duncombe Park - copyright NYMNPA.

We’ve got a remarkable abundance and variety of priority habitats and wildlife; a number of rare and priority species are strongly linked to the river valleys, including one of only three known UK populations of Alcathoe bat. The catchment is also a national hotspot for veteran trees – iconic and irreplaceable features of both our natural and cultural heritage.

River Rye - crow foot beds in the Vale of Pickering - copyright.

Ryevitalise projects will cover four themes:

  • River Riccal at sunset - copyright Rosy Eaton, Natural England.Water Environment, investigating aquatic habitats of the Rye and rare and threatened species;
  • Water Quality, working with land-owners and managers to reduce pollution;
  • Water Level Management, working alongside our delivery partners to harness natural processes to manage the sources and pathways of flood waters; and
  • Reconnecting People, improving the understanding of the river landscape by telling the story of its evolution and encouraging people to protect their heritage.

The new team – that’s me and Alex Cripps, Catchment Restoration Officer – are keen to hear from anyone with an interest in the Rye catchment. We will be consulting with partners, local landowners and wider communities over the coming months as we develop the projects we want to deliver, ensuring we incorporate peoples’ ideas and knowledge under the four themes. We look forward to meeting with/talking to as many people as we can as we develop our Stage 2 application.

Aerial view of River Rye and Nunnington Hall - taken by NEYEDC.

*The Stage 2 application will be submitted to Heritage Lottery Fund in the autumn of 2018.

Heritage Lottery Fund logo

From Beck Hole to Brazil

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Progamme Manager

This Exploited Land has a wealth of stories to tell. These stories from the past can be traced on the landscape today and have tracks stretching out beyond the North York Moors.

For 30 years from 1836 the trains along the new Whitby to Pickering railway had to overcome the 1:15 incline at Beck Hole. The carriages were initially horse-drawn but when the trains came up against the steep gradient of the incline between Beck Hole and Goathland the only way up and down was pulling and holding the carriages on a system of wire ropes. Steam power took over from horses in 1845, but trains still had to negotiate the incline by means of winches. Winches are intrinsically dangerous; a fatal accident occurred in 1864. The delays, problems and dangers of using the incline motivated the construction of a more practical deviation line in 1865. This allowed steam locomotives to travel along the complete line for the first time, and this is the current route of the North York Moors Railway.

2015 LiDAR image - NYMNPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above is a detail of the TEL Lidar survey undertaken in the development phase of the TEL Scheme. The defined line at the top shows the route of the current NYMR Whitby-Pickering Railway. The less defined line through the centre shows the route of the Beck Hole Incline.

So what happened to the ‘abandoned’ Beck Hole incline which connects the TEL landscape to Brazil and to innovations in railway technology that changed the ways railways worked through the 20th century…

In 1872 a 685 metre length of 3’7” (narrow) gauge track was laid on the disused Beck Hole Incline and successful tests were carried on a fell-system locomotive built by Manning & Wardle of Leeds. A fell-system uses a third rail to provide the necessary extra power and control when travelling up and down intense slopes. Manning & Wardle narrow gauges were exported around the world to Europe, Africa, the Indian sub-continent, Australasia and South America – so this short stretch of the Beck Hole Incline may have had an impact on the wider world opening up mountainous regions to exploitation.

Four fell-system locomotives were purchased from Manning & Wardle for use on the Cantagallo Railway in Brazil. This was Brazil’s first mountain railway linking Niterói to Nova Friburgo and allowed coffee to be shipped down from the mountains and out to the coast for export.

Back in the North York Moors, late in 1908 the railway line from Grosmont to the foot of the incline was re-opened for an Autocar service which ran in the summer months until the outbreak of the war in 1914. The North East Railway’s Autocars used early experimental petrol engines that generated electricity, and so are predecessors of the diesel and electric trains which took over the railways through the 20th century. The excursion/day trips by Autocar to Beck Hole saw tourists and visitors making use of industrial remains within the declining industrial landscape at the time.

Part of the Beck Hole Incline today – now the Historic Rail Trail. Copyright NYMNPA.

The site of the former railway station at Beck Hole at the base of the Incline – shown by the stone edge. Copyright NYMNPA. The Beck Hole Incline is now the route of the Historic Rail Trail footpath between Goathland and Grosmont. Walking down the incline today it is hard to imagine how it worked and what it looked like in its hey-day. It is perhaps even harder to imagine how this now tranquil part of the North York Moors is associated with changes in railway technology and how Beck Hole can be connected to Brazil.

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Making a contribution

Over the years the National Park have had a number of grant initiatives allowing us to provide grant to support projects that help achieve National Park purposes and duties and to conserve the special qualities of the North York Moors. Some of our grant schemes tend to be targeted which means we usually approach the land manager and offer the grant (for instance, to enhance habitat connectivity), and others are open to application and awarded through a competitive process.

So at the beginning of a new financial year with a new round of grants available, it’s these schemes, the ones generally open to application, which are described below.

Our Traditional Boundary Scheme provides grant assistance (up to a maximum of £2,000 per holding per year) towards the cost of rebuilding drystone walls* and plantingDerelict hedge - copyright NYMNPATBS hedge planting - copyright NYMNPA/restoring hedgerows. Traditional field boundaries are an important cultural element and landscape feature of the North York Moors. They also act as effective wildlife corridors. For more information – contact us.

Collapsed drystone walling - copyright NYMNPA

TBS restored drystone walling - copyright NYMNPA

There are lots of historic buildings in the National Park which are of great value both in terms of the landscape and cultural heritage, so we want to help ensure that as many as possible are kept in good repair. Around 3,000 buildings are specifically listed for their special architectural or historic interest. Historic Building Grants are available for Head House, before repair - copyright NYMNPAHistoric Building Grant - Head House, after repair - copyright NYMNPArepairs to Listed Buildings on the Authority’s “at risk” register. Grants are 50% of the cost of eligible works, up to a maximum of £7,500.

 

There are also 42 Conservation Areas in the National Park. These are areas within villages which have been designated because they are of particular historic or Modern downstairs window - Robin Hood's Bay - copyright NYMNPAConservation Area Enhancement Grant - downstairs window replaced, in keeping with historic character - Robin Hood's Bay - copyright NYMNPAarchitectural importance. Conservation Area Enhancement Grants are available for re-instating lost architectural features such as windows and doors and using traditional roofing materials on historic buildings, within Conservation Areas. Grants will be 50% of the cost of eligible works, up to £1,500 per project.

For more information on either of these two Building Conservation grants – see here.

Our Local Distinctiveness & Tourism Fund aims to raise the profile of the North York Moors and promote its local distinctiveness. Grants are awarded to projects in the National Park area and surroundings which increase awareness of the North York Moors brand. Ideas need to utilise the area’s local distinctiveness and at the same time ensuring that any increase in visitors has no adverse impacts. For more information – see here.

We’ve also got our Community Grant offering grant of up to £3,500 (up to 70% of total project costs) to local community groups for small scale projects which meet one of the following priorities:

    • environmental benefits e.g. recycling project or wildlife habitat improvements;
    • cultural heritage and local history conservation e.g. restoring a village monument or archiving data;
    • community facility improvements e.g. disabled access for a community building or improvements to a play area.

Projects need to show clear community benefit and value for money. This particular grant has a short application window – for 2016/17 we need to receive applications by 30 June 2016. For more information – see here.

The Community Grant is now into its fourth year. We’ve assisted a variety of functional  projects over that time, one of which was the setting up of the Farndale Film Club by providing grant towards the purchase of equipment. We’re very grateful to the Club for the following report on its first year which shows just how beneficial local community projects can be with just a little grant assistance.

Farndale Village Hall Report for North York Moors National Park

Grant awarded summer 2014 for Film Club equipment and costs – £2,791.60

Farndale Village Hall - copyright Farndale Village Hall CommitteeThe Village Hall committee were very pleased to be awarded the grant to enable us to start our own community Film Club. The equipment and licences were bought in the early part of 2015, and installed by a community member with technical, IT and audio-visual expertise, and one of our trustees who is a qualified electrician and computer expert.

Our first screening was on the 1st May 2015. The film was ‘What we did on our holidays’ – a British comedy, which was a real success. We had 24 people attending, and had organised refreshments, crisps and chocolate bars. Feedback from attendees was excellent. The blackout blinds worked really well in summer to keep the hall dark. The sound system was great, and the big screen made it feel as though you really were at the cinema!

We decided to hold monthly screenings. Information about the screenings is given in our member’s community newsletter, on an email circular, and on posters inside the hall. Members are regularly asked what films they might want to see and all suggestions are welcome.

Farndale Film Club - copyright Farndale Village Hall CommitteeWe have had a wide range so far of films, including comedies, a western and recent films like Gravity and The Imitation Game. We have held eight general monthly film nights for members, which have had 142 individual attendances.

We also held a screening of a new independent film ‘Addicted to Sheep’ in October. This was a licensed film and we were able to publicise and promote the screening, and charge for attendance. We decided to charge £3.00, really just to cover the costs of the film (£150). We also sold ice creams, snacks and drinks. Overall at this film, we had 60 people attending, and contributed over £100 towards our 1st year costs. Everyone who came said they had had a really good evening.

The Farndale Kids Club is also taking advantage of the equipment, and so far have shown three films – ‘Paddington’ in June; ‘Hotel Transylvania’ at a Halloween party in October, and ‘Elf’ in December. The children had a brilliant time. At these films we had overall attendance of 71. The children made themselves comfortable on rugs and cushions on the floor, and had ice creams and snacks.

So overall, we have held three films for the Kids Club, eight films for the usual members club, and held an ‘open’ screening. Overall attendance of the 12 films has been 273.

In the summer, we made another grant application to the Two Ridings Community Foundation – Grassroots Fund towards funding for some more comfortable seating, and were pleased to have the grant agreed in September. We have since purchased 30 new upholstered and padded chairs for use at the film club, and so far members have been very pleased with them. They are a big improvement on the old plastic chairs we had.

Farndale Film Club - copyright Farndale Village Hall Committee

Since we started, we have covered the overall equipment and first year’s costs of the Film Club – largely through your grant, also the income from our recycling Bags Collection, from members’ donations, and through snacks and soft drinks donations at the screenings.

All the people who have so far come to the Farndale Film Club and Kids Film Club have been very positive about having a local venue where they can see films. Comments have been made about how good it is not to have to travel miles to see films, and also how nice it is to spend time with neighbours and friends in a different arena. For some of us, it is the only time we have been to a cinema in many years! Thank you again for your generous grant, it is much appreciated by all.

Gill Aconley, Committee Member, Farndale Village Hall

James Thurtell, Chairman, Farndale Village Hall

*And talking of film, our Agri-Environment Team spent a few hours recently learning the basics of drystone walling in order to better understand this traditional craft. Here’s what happened…

Agri-Environment Team endlessly practising drystone walling at Sutton Bank - copyright NYMNPA

A to Z – an exaggeration of Es

E

EBENEZER CHAPELS

There are a number of Ebenezer Chapels in the North York Moors. These were generally built during the 19th century in the evangelical revivals in response to changes across society bringing uncertainty and upsetting traditional beliefs and controls. Being geographically ‘separate’ to some extent the North York Moors has tended to be on the edge of conventional authority and control; it has a long history of non-establishment religious belief. With influxes of people to work in the booming industry in the North York Moors non-conformist denominations flourished – such as the Primitive Methodists and Strict Baptists. Chapels were sometimes given the name ‘Ebenezer’ because it means ‘rock of help’ (a good name for a stone built building) and reminds the congregation of God’s protection for his repentant people.

Ebenezer Chapel, Rosedale built 1872  - http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3198945

EELS (Anguilla anguilla)

The European eel has an amazing lifecycle – use this link to access a great illustrative video put together by the Zoological Society of London.

The European eel is a critically endangered species fish species which was once common in the rivers of the North York Moors. Its numbers have declined by over 90% since the 1970s due to a number of cumulative factors such as barriers to migration (such as weirs), pollution, overfishing, a parasitic nematode (worm), and also changes in climate. The presence of eels is often used as an indicator of water quality in a river.

European eels - http://europeaneel.com/european-eel/

Dr Frank ELGEE

Frank Elgee was born in North Ormesby near Middlesbrough in 1880 – his father worked as a book keeper for one of the town’s Iron Masters. He suffered a litany of childhood diseases which limited his formal education and culminated in him being sent home from hospital to die at the age of 17 – but this didn’t happen. With a body somewhat confined and debilitated by his bad health his mind flourished and grasped at everything: history, literature, philosophy, languages, astrology and in particular local natural history and archaeology. As his health improved somewhat he applied himself to practical investigation in order to draw his own rational conclusions, heading off into the hills and moorland of the North York Moors. He became the Assistant Curator at the newly opened Dorman Memorial Museum in 1904 and he began to write.

Photo of Dr F Elgee from A Man of the Moors: extracts the Diaries and Letters of Frank Elgee edited by Harriet W Elgee, 1957His first and now most famous book was ‘The Moorlands of North-eastern Yorkshire; their
Natural History and Origin
’ which after much self-doubt and revision was finally published in 1912. He and his family relocated in 1920 to Commondale within the North York Moors – surrounded by the moorland that so stimulated him. He became Curator at the Dorman Museum in 1923. He continued to research and write leading, probably inevitably, to his health breaking down on a number of occasions, although as his wife recorded he continued to write from his sick bed. He was recognised by the awarding of a Doctorate in Philosophy from Leeds University in 1933.

Harriet his wife, who always provided stirling support, gave Frank Elgee a heartfelt epitaph after his death in 1944 – ‘his labours had been Herculean; his physical strength was nothing but frailty; his monetary resources were meagre…he stands for the triumph of mind over body, of spirit over matter…a scholar-saint of the Yorkshire Moorlands, as having entered fully into his rights of pre-eminent domain as their genius loci, unto whom all is revealed’.

Below is an extract from A Man of the Moors: extracts from the Diaries and Letters of Frank Elgee edited by Harriet W Elgee, 1957. It is interesting to consider whether what Frank Elgee saw and experienced over 100 years ago, can still be seen and experienced today.

Wooded slopes in Baysdale 2008 - copyright NYMNPA

Jan 19 1908 In Baysdale

  A misty, frosty morning becoming brilliantly sunny at mid-day. Went up Baysdale Beck beyond the Westerdale-Kildale road. Along the slopes the cowberry is extremely abundant, even growing among bilberry which only here and there preserves its leaves, the square wiry stalks standing up like thistles. Trees grow along the beck slopes and include oak, birch, holly, hawthorn, and one small juniper bush, the first I have seen for several years.

 Under heather growing on blocks of sandstone two or three small Lepidoptera [butterflies] were found, whilst under a stone Zonites alliarius [snails] were noted.

 Along the streams are one or two old slag heaps evidently made in olden days when the ironstone of the Ellerbeck Bed was worked.

 In the afternoon I walked as far as Howl Syke and back. From the railway bridge there is a fine view of the Lealholm moraine and Cunkley Gill, and it is clear how the Esk has been deviated by an ice barrier at this place, the level at which it began to cut down being considerably higher than the lowest point of the moraine.

 To me the Moorlands of Cleveland [northern part of the North York Moor] have been a source of physical and intellectual development. On them I have found that health which the town cannot give; and they have forwarded, and I hope they will continue to forward, my intellectual career.”

There is a memorial stone to Frank Elgee on Blakey Ridge, erected by the Natural History and Archaeological Society of Yorkshire in 1953.

Frank Elgee Memorial - http://www.hidden-teesside.co.uk/2013/07/25/frank-elgee-memorial-blakey-ridge/

ENCLOSURE ACTS

Since medieval times, here and there land often farmed under an ‘Open Field system’ had been enclosed and holdings established out of owned and tenanted fields. During the 17th century the practice of using an Act of Parliament to enclose land took off. Enclosure was a way for landowners to make the most of their assets and at the same time expedite investment to increase productivity – hence the 18th century ‘agricultural revolution’ in England.

Enclosure enhanced agricultural productivity and meant more and more land was able to be managed/cultivated for agricultural use. It therefore had a big effect on the landscape, as the area of cultivated ‘improved’ land grew, and stock numbers increased considerably. Many (but not all) of the ‘traditional’ boundaries such as hedgerows and walls that divide up the countryside and are so valued today, came about due to Enclosure – as well as demarcating ownership divisions the boundaries were needed to manage stock. The enclosed field systems with square or rectangular parcels of land are still visible if fields have not been subsequently amalgamated, particularly around villages where individual villagers received a division of the previously ‘common’ land. In contrast the remains of ridge and furrow can also still sometimes be seen – for instance on aerial photographs – revealing the ploughing regime of a previous ‘Open Field system’.

The effects of Enclosure on local communities is still widely debated, and are bound up with the effects of the industrial revolution taking place around the same time. Productivity increases alongside the introduction of machinery meant less labour was required on the land, and parts of the population left without any or too little enclosed land needed to seek a living elsewhere not withstanding the lure of a more regular industrial wage. Increased productivity of farmed land was then even more important – in order to feed a growing urban population, without the wherewithal to feed themselves.

There were so many individual bills coming before Parliament regarding Enclosure that the first General Enclosure Act was passed in 1801 which did away with the need for private bills. The final General Enclosure Act of 1845 included a number of exceptions like village greens, but otherwise was the legal consummation of the ‘inclosure and improvement of commons and lands held in common’ in England.

In the North York Moors, as in other areas, there remain a number of un-enclosed ‘Commons’.

EUROPEAN PROTECTED SPECIES

These are European Protected Species*, found in and around the North York Moors, which are protected by European law across the European Union. In addition national law protects other species that are thought to be particularly important.

European otterEuropean otter http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/discover/rivers/wildlife-on-the-river/otter

Great crested newtGreat crested newt - http://www.adas.uk/Service/edna-analysis-for-great-crested-newt

All bat species (currently 10 species in the North York Moors – soprano pipistrelle, noctule, brown long-eared, common pipistrelle, Nathusius’ pipistrelle, whiskered, Brandt’s, Daubenton’s, Natterer’s bats and Alcathoe).Alcathoe Bat http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/uk_bats.html

Killarney fern Killarney fern http://www.british-wild-flowers.co.uk/T-Flowers/Trichomanes%20speciosum.htm

Bottle nose dolphins, Harbour porpoises, Whales – Fin, Minke, Sei, Pilot and HumpbackSei Whale - balaenoptera_borealis-karin_hartman_nova_atlantis_foundation - from http://uk.whales.org/species-guide/sei-whale

*Doesn’t include any lichens, fungi or birds which are protected through seperate legislation.

EXTENSIVE FARMING

Extensive farming – as opposed to intensive farming – is a term used to describe the farming of areas of land that are managed using less inputs relative to the area of land being farmed. Upland areas of the UK, like most of the North York Moors, are normally farmed extensively, due to the physical limitations of the climate and soil resulting in lower productivity. The majority of these upland farms consist of extensive livestock grazing of natural and semi-natural vegetation.

Extensive farming - muck spreading in Fryup Dale - copyright NYMNPA

Accepting that yields cannot be as high as in lowland areas and so minimising inputs can profit the surrounding environment. Inputs change the environment – and this can in the extreme include the acidification of land and the eutrophication of water systems.

Extensive grazing benefits many plants, insects and birds and so provides a higher biodiversity than in both intensively grazed fields and in ungrazed fields. Extensive farms generally run less livestock per hectare than intensive farms. This is due to the lower growth rate of plants in upland areas with minimal inputs and so fewer stock can be supported. Fewer stock avoids the chance of overgrazing, and in catchment areas minimises the siltation ending up in rivers.

Feeding livestock hay from unimproved (i.e. no inputs) hay meadow habitats instead of silage from improved grasslands gives a purpose to maintaining upland hay meadows, and some people suggest the end product – i.e. meat – therefore tastes better. One of the downside of a more ‘natural’ system is that the livestock takes longer to reach maturity; this can be offset somewhat by selling the meat at a premium for this improved taste. The premium can also be justified to consumers with the idea of helping to conserve the upland hay meadows as a by-product of raising the livestock that way.

Elements of extensive farming can also assist more intensive farming. When planting insect pollinated arable crops (usually an intensive process), it has been shown that managing the lower yield edges and corners of arable fields as habitat buffers can increase overall crop yield on a farm. This can be explained by the increased presence of pollinators attracted by the cornfield and wild flower plants growing in these edge habitats without damaging inputs.

EYEBRIGHT (Euphrasia sp.)

This is a common plant on short (e.g. grazed) grassland/heathland habitats. It has small white/mauve flowers with purple/yellow markings and ‘frilly’ petals. It is semi-parasitic because it collects nutrients off the roots of neighbouring grasses and plants, demonstrating in its own small way the vital interconnections that make up biodiversity.

Its common name came from the traditional use of a tonic made from the plant to treat eye ailments. Like most plants it can also have detrimental (poisonous) effects.

Eyebright has numerous species and hybrids hence the general binomial Latin name given above – with a generic name Euphrasia first but with sp. instead of a species name second to indicate the particular species is unknown/unidentified.

Eyebright (Euphrasia sp) - copyright NYMNPA

Previously on the North York Moors A to Z … A, B, C, D

Falling leaves divulge our industrial past

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer

One of the tasks that we undertook during the just completed Development Phase of the This Exploited Land (HLF Landscape Partnership) programme was to try and establish a better understanding of the landscape character of the programme area.

Map of TEL area - submitted October 2015. By NYMNPA.

Understanding, analysing and describing the character types of the landscape includes some obvious ‘easy hits’ – wide open moorland, farmland, river corridors, enclosed wooded valleys. In each of these different landscapes in the This Exploited Land (TEL) area industrial archaeology has left a significant legacy.

For example, the industrial archaeology features are relatively straightforward to see in Rosedale. Alongside the well-known monumental kilns on both sides of the dale, it is possible to make out the flattened ‘terrace’ that marks out the line of the Rosedale Railway, and the ‘inclines’ that mark out the tramways bringing the ironstone from the mine entrances to the calcining kilns for processing. Whilst there are features that are unmapped (or which we are not quite sure how they actually ‘worked’) the industrial archaeology of Rosedale is easy to see in the landscape and so help to present the story of the dale’s industrial past. Rosedale East landscape - can see the surviving monuments and earthworks. Copyright NYMNPA.

But imagine that Rosedale was not an open moorland setting, but was rather in one of the enclosed wooded valleys. All that was easy enough to make out is suddenly very difficult to see and without seeing the features it is very hard to read the story of past industrial exploitation.

This is the case with the Murk Esk valley between Goathland and Grosmont, which today contains a mixture of broadleaved and conifer woodland, including Plantations on Ancient Woodland sites (PAWS) indicating there has been woodland on the site for a long time. But in addition, from c. 1840s – 1890s the valley was a scene of heavy industry including mineral extraction (ironstone and whinstone), calcining and ironworking (at Beck Hole and Grosmont), and associated domestic life.  This includes ‘key’ sites such as Beck Hole Ironworks, Grosmont Ironworks, Combs Wood, Blue Ber Wood and Holme House mines. Much of this industrial past is now ‘lost’ or hidden beneath the trees and it is very difficult to isolate, access and interpret the significant remains that are within the areas of dense woodland.

Murk Esk Valley. copyright Stephen Croft NYMNPA.

I’ve walked the route from Goathland to Grosmont with my children several times and they like the trees, really enjoy the river, but they don’t ‘see’ this as a historic place – it doesn’t have ‘easy’ to see ruins or landscape features – rather all they see is the trees, and these are somehow ‘old’ and must have always been there. The natural environment has subsumed the historic environment. As such the significance and value of the Murk Esk valley and the vital importance it played in the development of the ironstone industries and railway technologies is very hard to understand.

Industrial remains within Murk Esk woodland. Copyright NYMNPA.

Industrial remains within Murk Esk woodland. Copyright NYMNPA.

LiDAR

LiDAR survey employs a laser based instrument which transmits high frequency laser pulses and records the reflected signal which can be used to generate very accurate topographic map data even beneath woodland canopy. LiDAR is one of many ‘remote sensing’ technologies that are used by archaeologists to survey sites from the air – a ‘teched-up’ development from conventional aerial photography.

LiDAR has been used with spectacular results for archaeological discoveries around the world such as Angkor Watt, Caracol and here in the UK in the New Forest National Park (amongst many others). As it enables a landscape-scale approach it is particularly suited to documenting archaeological landscapes and features in a number of other HLF Landscape Partnership Schemes such as TEL. Although much of England is already covered by LiDAR data held by the Environment Agency (who need to understand topography and land use, including creating flood models and assessing coastal change) – the currently available coverage in the Murk Esk valley wasn’t available in sufficient density to make this useful as a tool for identification of the archaeological features beneath trees.

TEL LiDAR coverage map, coloured based upon broad elevation, showing the LiDAR survey area over the Murk Esk and the TEL data limits bordered in red. Bluesky/NYMNPA.High density LiDAR surveys enable us to ‘see’ beneath the trees and other vegetation where the laser beam has passed between the branches of the trees and been reflected from the ground beneath. So we commissioned our own survey of the Murk Esk valley to be undertaken in ‘leaf-off’ conditions – in the very short window between the leaves falling of the trees and vegetation and the new buds and growth forming – therefore increasing the possibility of the laser beam passing through the branches to the ground beneath. During the end weeks of winter I was spring-watching with increased nervousness in anticipation of the perfect combination of ‘timing’ and ‘weather’. Fortunately our survey was undertaken on the 9 March 2015.

 

Murk Esk LiDAR coverage in grey-scale overlain upon Google Earth map using virtual shading to highlight relief (with lighting from the south-east ) and in multi-shaded format in which virtual lighting from different directions is coloured differentially to enhance feature visibility. Bluesky/NYMNPA.We have now started to use the results to give us a much better understanding of the landscape character of the Murk Esk valley. The survey has demonstrated that the TEL landscape still contains significant unknowns, and there is a wealth of historic and natural heritage information that can be discovered, amalgamated and better understood. The verification of these results, mainly through ground truthing, will be a central element of the community archaeology and volunteer programs delivered through the TEL programme should HLF funding be secured for its Delivery Phase.

LiDAR - Beck Hole Ironworks - a number of industrial structures are served by sidings from the railway line. Bluesky/NYMNPA.

Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 25 inch map 1893 - Beck Hole Ironworks - a number of industrial structures are served by sidings from the railway line. © and database right Crown copyright and Landmark Information Group Ltd. All rights reserved North York Moors National Park Authority 100021930 2015 LM000373 2015.Aerial photography 2009 - Beck Hole Ironworks - a number of industrial structures are served by sidings from the railway line. © GeoPerspectives 2009. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With our industrial past revealed by the falling leaves last winter, the scale of the ‘unknown’ is surprising particularly given the relatively recent past represented by the histories of early railways and iron making in the North York Moors. The past is still there to be discovered.

Shared learning

Roy McGhie – Conservation Project Assistant

I’ve taken over the role of Conservation Project Assistant from Kirsty who left the National Park Authority earlier this year for pastures new.

Roy McGhie - learning to scythe at Ryedale Folk Museum - copyright Roy Hampson

I have had a fairly diverse career so far. I am a qualified primary teacher, have worked in business and manufacturing, and have spent more time studying than I care to think about! I have always had a passion for the natural environment, and volunteered whenever and wherever I could. A recent move to North Yorkshire enabled me to retrain in this sector, and now I find myself working for the National Park Authority, which is a dream come true. I love being able to meet the people who manage the land in the National Park, helping them to conserve and enhance the North York Moors in a way that is beneficial to both people and the environment. So far I’ve been largely concentrating on turning Traditional Boundary Scheme (TBS) applications into agreements to help restore boundaries that are so important to the landscape character of the North York Moors.

North York Moors National Park landscape - copyright Roy McGhie, NYMNPA

Amidst my TBS efforts, a couple of weeks ago John (Land Management Adviser) and I attended the annual Farm Liaison Officers conference hosted by the South Downs National Park. This event is an opportunity for agri-environment staff from all 15 of the UK’s National Parks to meet and discuss common issues and difficulties that we face, as well as to find areas of best practice which we can take back to our own National Parks. Whilst the job titles differ from Park to Park it was clear that what we all shared was a passion for working with land managers to achieve mutually beneficial conservation goals.

The first full day was filled with site visits – even if the specific habitats and species we saw were sometimes different to those in the North York Moors, the issues around land management and competing pressures are similar to those we face here.

Tom Tupper - South Downs NP, Farm Liaison Officers Meeting 2015 - copyright Roy McGhie, NYMNPAThe first day started with a visit to Bignor Farm near Pulborough. Here, Tom Tupper, a local landowner, introduced us to the chalk grasslands, known as downlands, that make up much of the iconic character of the South Downs. During World War II the South Downs lost about 80% of its grassy downlands, partly to intensive agriculture for food production, and partly to military training. Today, only about 4% of the South Downs remain as chalk downland.

Tom also took us to Bignor Roman Villa, which has been in his family’s stewardship since it was re-discovered over 200 years ago. The site is renowned for having some of the best Roman mosaics in the country, both in terms of detail and preservation. Our stop at the villa allowed us to discuss the intricacies of preserving monuments alongside the public (and often financial) requirement for interpretation and access. There are similar issues at Cawthorn Camps, a Roman site on the North York Moors.

Roman Villa - South Downs NP, Farm Liaison Officers Meeting 2015 - copyright Roy McGhie, NYMNPA

We visited Peppering Farm on the Norfolk Estate. The Estate is currently in a Higher Level Stewardship agri-environment agreement, but carries out more conservation work than it receives money towards, for instance in regards to reversing the decline of the Grey Partridge. This highlighted the ongoing issues that arise from trying to balance landscape enhancement with the need for productive practical agriculture. We also saw a restored dew pond. Dew ponds have been dated as far back as Neolithic times, and are a source of much debate as to how they traditionally filled up with water. Landscape archaeology suggests they were used for watering cattle and were lined with clay to hold the water. As we saw, they are always a popular haven for wildlife. There are number of such ponds in and around the North York Moors.

Dew Pond - South Downs NP, Farm Liaison Officers Meeting 2015 - copyright Roy McGhie, NYMNPA

We also visited Pepperscombe on the Wiston Estate. Here we were introduced to the Steyning Downland Scheme which aims to reconnect people, particularly children, with the countryside around them. The Scheme partly came about because of increased visitor pressure on the South Downs Way, which runs through many farms and fields, as well as mountain biking and dog walking issues. Today there are Trustees and a steering group to represent the needs of the local community, which has seen a designated area created for bikers, the establishment of a team of local volunteers to monitor the plant life, and the opportunity for school children to enjoy creative educational days out on site.

Cattle are used to graze the scrub. The photo below shows the effect just a small number

Conservation grazing - South Downs NP, Farm Liaison Officers Meeting 2015 - copyright Roy McGhie, NYMNPA

of cattle can have. The area on the left in the foreground was grazed by just six Dexter cattle for only 3 weeks. The area on the right in the background is a new area of scrub the cattle have just moved in to. The difference is remarkable. Dexter cattle are the smallest of all European cattle breeds, and can be particularly suited to conservation grazing with public access because the animals are less intimidating to members of public than larger breeds.

South Downs landscape - South Downs NP, Farm Liaison Officers Meeting 2015 - copyright Roy McGhie, NYMNPA

On the second day, we were back in doors talking through shared subjects such as funding opportunities under Rural Development Programmes and transition from the current national agri-environment schemes (Environmental Stewardship) to the new Countryside Stewardship scheme. Overall the conference proved to be very informative, and I think we all took away knowledge that will help us with our work with land managers to enhance the qualities of each of our wonderful National Parks.

Criss crossing the landscape

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

The landscape and land managers in the North York Moors have benefited from grants totalling £64,400 through the 2014/15 round of our Traditional Boundary Scheme. The grant supported the restoration of hedgerows and drystone walls which aren’t being picked up through national agri-environment schemes. The work builds on that carried out in 2013/14 which was the first year of the Scheme. This year’s funding has enabled the restoration of over 2,600 square metres of traditional drystone wall and over 2,800 metres of hedge planting, coppicing and laying.

Hedge laying - Kirsty Brown

Hedge laying is traditionally carried out in the autumn and winter when the plants are dormant. Importantly this also avoids the bird nesting season. A rural craft which has been widely practised for hundreds of years across Europe, hedge laying has largely disappeared apart from in  a handful of countries including the UK. It involves partially cutting through the upright stems of shrubs, bending them down and weaving them around stakes driven into the line of the hedge. There are around ten different regional styles of hedge laying within the UK including a ‘Yorkshire style’ which is traditionally very narrow, laid flattish and no more than three foot in height.

Hedge laying is obviously more skilled and time consuming than hedge cutting and coppicing, and has been dying out as a traditional craft. But the availability of targeted support funding and an awareness and appreciation of the benefits of hedgerows as wildlife corridors, habitats and food sources, as well as landscape features, is assisting the survival and re-burgeoning of hedgerow management skills like laying. And don’t think that drystone walls are second best to hedgerows in terms of biodiversity and wildlife. Walls can provide corridors for species movement and homes for a world of biodiversity from saxifrages to spiders to slow worms etc. Fortunately we have a number of skilled hedging contractors as well as drystone wallers working in the North York Moors and the wider area, maintaining boundary structures and practising their craft.

Rebuilt drystone wall - Kirsty Brown

I would like to thank all the land managers and contractors who have undertaken work to restore and reinstate valuable boundaries in the North York Moors this year. Various dry stone walls in the National Park are believed to demarcate boundaries going back to the Iron Age or earlier, with some on the coast being noted from Viking times, while some of our hedgerows are remnants of ancient woodland margins. In addition to supporting our local farms and benefiting wildlife, up keeping our walls and hedges has economic elements too employing local contractors and making the area more appealing to visitors. The National Park Authority is keen therefore to do what it can to support the continuation of these traditional boundaries and despite considerable cuts to our core funding, we are still hoping to be able to offer the Traditional Boundary Scheme again in 2015/16 (keep a look out on our website).

Drystone walls in the NYM landscape - Kirsty Brown