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Bishop Nick ascends Pen y Ghent

Botanist Judith Allinson recalls the (early) morning spent climbing Pen y Ghent (21 June 2011)- and then highlights important conservation points about the Diocese.

Mossy Saxifrage

See photos and description Bradford Diocese Website.

For large versions of pictures on this page see Bishop ascends Pen y Ghent

Bishop Nick's blog entry : "Getting Wet"  

 

How should a new Bishop
get to know his Diocese?



On foot of course.


Bishop Nick, new bishop of Bradford Diocese took advantage of today  21 June, the longest day of the year to visit many places and started by setting off for the summit of Pen y Ghent at 5am from Horton school.

The forecast (and arrival) of rain did not deter the group of 17 people who donned waterproofs and set of .. upwards. The walk would be over 5.5 miles long and involve climbing from 232 m at Horton to 694 m (2,277ft)  at the summit.

On the way up we find some Blue Moor-grass on the limestone rocks. (The picture on the right was actually taken in March of a plant that is young and still blue.) Our North Craven Area is a key area for this grass. People come up all the way from London to see this grass.. It is on the cover of the new BSBI Grasses book. It provides food for sheep.

Then we climb upwards through the millstone grit band of rock. No Blue Moor-grass here.

Do we make it to the summit?

Yes we do --

To find a small group has gone ahead and made coffee and flapjacks for us.


On the way down the bishop points to some sheets of white flowers on the cliff, and asks:-

"What are they?"

Later we find some by the wallside. It is Mossy Saxifrage! (see the picture at the top of this posting). This is a plant that is rare in the south and east of Britain (see map)


Nearly at the bottom and we find the grass Yorkshire Fog and the important plant Red Clover

Why is it called "Yorkshire Fog?"

The regrowth of grass after a haymeadow has been cut is called the fog.

Why it should be called Yorkshire Fog I know not... it was certainly very foggy up on Pen y Ghent this morning.

And what is special about Red clover?

  • You can pull out the individual flowers from the head, and suck the base - They taste sweet - they contain nectar to attract insects
  • They provide nectar for bees. One main reason the bees are decreasing is that there are far few wildflower fields for them to collect a variety of nectar and pollen.
  • Clover roots have nitrogen fixing bacteria. these take nitrogen gas from the air (air is 78% nitrogen) and make it into fertilizer so the clover and other plants grow better.

At Colt Park Meadows 10 miles away on Ingleborough, Lancaster University researchers are carrying out experiments in whcih they are adding clover to the meadow to see if more carbon will be retained in the soil as humous.


We arrive at the main road by 8am ready for Bishop Nick to go to Feizor for breakfast at the excellent cafe there and to do (wet) dry stone walling with the farmers... and many more activities during the day till evening-time in Bradford.

 

What is special Nature Conservation - wise about the Bradford diocese?

The Bradford Diocese contains a lot of area that is "Site of Special Scientific Interest" (i.e. of high wildlife conservation value.) Almost half the diocese is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (including a sizeable area at the NW that is in Cumbria). The shaded part of the map of the diocese (which will shortly appear below) is taken from the BAP plan for Yorkshire. It shows that about 20% of the YDNP is SSSI - hence over 5% (maybe almost 10%) of the diocese is SSSI. That is fantastic!.

Special features include the areas of limestone pavement (which are important on a European level) and the arctic alpine relic plants on such places as Pen y Ghent cliffs. Nearby Malham Tarn has a Raised bog and fen and wetland aea that is of international importance.

Distribution maps of many upland plants and animals show we are on a dividing line for Britian - ome plants occur NW of the diocese but not SE of the diocese. .. and similarly they occur NW of here .. in the Lake Diastict, northernPennines and Scotalnd but not in the south of England.

We should look after the wildlife in our diocese.

But is our wildlife under threat?

Plantlife have shown that on average most counties in Britain have been loosing 0.5 to 1 native wild species over the past 100 or 150 years. This is also true for "West Yorkshire area" and for the "Plants of Mid West Yorkshire". (I counted the species described as lost in the two botanical surveys for our area) (See the book The Atlas of Plnats of Mid West Yorkshire

Let's protect our wild plants better for future generations - but also let's individually get to know them better.

Below is a Map of Bradford Diocese. the Yorkshire area is shaded pale grey and the SSIs in it are shaded dark grey. SSSIs in Lancshire and Cumbria are not shaded.

The SSSI map from Yorkshire was taken from the "A Biodiviersity Audit of Yorkshire and the Humber" by the Yorkshire and Humber Biodiversity Forum- This was produced several years ago - the nearest I can find to it now is the Yorkshire and Humber Biodiversity Strategy

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