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Events help community understand and conserve the heritage of Ilkley Moor

During June The Friends of Ilkley Moor provided opportunities for the local community to learn about and help conserve the heritage of Ilkley Moor.

On Saturday the 5th June a guided walk to discover the birds of Ilkley Moor took place; organised by the FoIM, with experts from the Wharfedale Naturalist Society informing people about the birds which were heard and seen on the day.

Ilkley Moor forms part of the South Pennine Moors Special Protection Area (SPA) designated under the European Union Bird’s Directive for its internationally important breeding birds.

In the past surveys showed the following species were present on Ilkley Moor: merlin, short-eared owl, golden plover, common sandpiper, dunlin, twite, snipe, wheatear, whinchat, redshank, ring ouzel, curlew and lapwing. This event was developed to enthuse the local community to help collect records for bird species on Ilkley Moor.

The plants event took place on Saturday 12th June, led by Tracy Gray, Project Officer for the FoIM. The event was organised so that people could discover the plants, grasses, mosses and lichens which can be found on Ilkley Moor.

The group walked along the lower slopes of the moor, up to the upper tarn, down to the lower tarn and then across to a wetland area to be shown the plants characteristic of dry heaths, marshland and open water bodies. Plants discovered in the dry heath were heather, cross leaved heather, bilberry, bracken, lemon scented fern, lichens, gorse, rowan, hazel, oak, ash, and birch trees and the grasses of Yorkshire fog, crested dogs tail, cocksfoot, sweet vernal grass and meadow grass. Also seen were yarrow, nettle, dock, birds foot trefoil and tormentil. In the marsh area the group were shown flowering rush and compact rush, bog asphodel, cranberry, bog cotton, sphagnum moss, meadowsweet, sedges and sundew (the UKs native caniverous plant!). In the upper tarn the group discovered water horsetail, marsh violet, marsh pennywort and willow trees. It was a sunny day, and the dragon flies were out too, adding flights of colour across the water.

As well as admiring the plants the group also learnt about the ecology, conservation of and management of these habitats.

On Saturday 19th of June the Stanza Stone walk took place – A trail of discovery to learn more about the Stanza Stones: a poetry trail constructed in 2012 with the help of Ilkley Literature Festival. Several stones, which contain engraved poems composed by Simon Armitage are on Ilkley Moor. This circular walk of 3 miles started and finished at the Craiglands Hotel in Ilkley, walking up to the Beck Stone and across the Rocky Valley to WhiteWells; then back to Craigland’s hotel where the group enjoyed tea and scones.

And lastly the FoIM’s regular volunteers have been out each week this month undertaking habitat management on Ilkley Moor for the benefit of wildlife conservation and helping to restore and maintain footpath networks. With a big thank you to the team of volunteers from Adept Civil and Structural Consulting Engineers, who undertook their team day on the moor; and helped restore a footpath in Hyber’s Ghyll Woodland.

Everyone had a great time on the events and volunteer workdays and look forward to attending more events from this year’s events and learning programme.

The events programme and heritage walks can be downloaded from the FOIM website

The FoIM have received funding from VCS Alliance to lead some events on Ilkley Moor this year, specifically aimed at over 65’s who have had to spend a lot of time isolating this year due to Corvid-19. The events will offer opportunities for this age group to gently get back into outdoor activities, in a supportive manner, for health and social benefits.


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