The Flora and Fauna of the Yorkshire Three Peaks

15 November 2018

Since the establishment of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in 1954, much of the park hasn’t changed since. In some cases, the area has seen improvement in terms of biodiversity. Much of the UK, meanwhile, has been in a steady decline. What do you picture when you think about Yorkshire? Rustic farms populated entirely by sheep, the peat bogs and heather-coated moorland. While this is all part and parcel of Yorkshire, there’s a lot more life in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks than meets the eye.

Plants in the Yorkshire Three Peaks

Plant life is surprisingly diverse in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. The wide variety of soil types and climates means that a wide variety of flowers, grasses and bushes can flourish. Alongside the ubiquitous Wild Heather that covers the peaty soil, you can find wild bilberries and cranberries, with cloudberries and cowberries at higher altitudes. Other plants include the bizarre insectivorous Sundew and the Hare’s Tail Cottongrass.

The areas of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks more suitable for animal grazing are termed Hay Meadows. Usually dominated by grass, there are some species that flourish in these areas of nutrient-poor soils. Upland hay meadows are characterised by a suite of species, including Sweet Vernal-Grass, Wood Crane’s-Bill, Pignut, Great Burnet and Lady`s Mantles. They also provide an important feeding habitat for a wide range of bird and insect life.

While much of the Dales is doing better than the rest of the UK, the impact of climate change, disease and humans is making these areas less fertile.

wild bilberries

The Animals of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks

Farm animals like sheep and cows will make up most of the fauna dotting the Dales. However, wild species of birds, mammals, insects and reptiles call the Yorkshire 3 Peaks their home too. When it comes to birds, you may see Buzzards on the hunt, Curlews probing the ground for insects and worms, the distinctive Red Grouse, the haunting Raven, and the common House Sparrow.

Wild mammals include various rodent species, such as Squirrels, Hares and Dormice, and Mustelids like the Otter and Badger. While relatively hard to spot, Adders can be found if you look hard enough, while various butterflies can be seen fluttering around.

Unfortunately, with the destruction of their natural habitats, their numbers are decreasing. Without help, these animals may disappear from the Dales.

If you want to keep the Dales pristine for future generations, consider getting involved in nature conservation projects listed here. Or if you are getting involved in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks this year, we simply ask that you are respectful of the local area, making sure to take your litter home with you and disturbing the flora and fauna as little as possible.