Because the valleys in this area are so narrow and steep-sided, the farms are mostly high up on ‘the tops’ on the shoulders of the hills between the woods and the moors. Sheep are grazed on the heather moorland and on the pasture near the farms. Beef cattle are also reared on the high meadows, along with some dairy herds. The meadows are cut for silage and hay in the summer, which is used to feed stock during the winter.
Some of the land formerly used for agriculture is now used for horses and ponies instead. A few farms keep rare breeds, such as alpaca and llama, but only on a very small scale. Roe deer live in the woods, occasionally venturing up onto ‘the tops’ to graze on the pasture. Early morning is the most likely time of day to encounter them on your walks. Badgers, foxes and stoats have all been spotted in the locale, the latter sporting white coats in winter. Frogs live down by the river and in boggy spots higher up on the hills.
The moors are surprisingly rich in birdlife, including summer migrants such as golden plover, curlew, lapwing and even the occasional oyster catcher, who return each spring to breed, as well as residents such as skylarks and kestrels. The moors also used for grouse-shooting, so pheasants and grouse are a common sight up here and some are venture down to lower levels as well. For more information on birds, please click here.
Bog cotton flowering on moorland during summer
© Text and images copyright Lesley Jackson