Category Archives: North York Moors

A pheonix tree

In a hidden corner of Bransdale in the North York Moors, there is a quite remarkable tree. A multi-stemmed, partially collapsed Small-leaved Lime (Tilia cordata).


According to a biological survey carried out by the National Trust, it’s very unlikely to have been planted here and so, is of particular significance.


  • The species is found in places which have had a long ecological continuity such as ancient woods, old hedgebanks and on crags and cliffs.
  • It is mainly a southern species, a relict from warmer times.
  • It reaches the northern limit of its British range in Yorkshire and the Lake District, so this tree is one of the most northerly native specimens!
  • It is generally only capable of natural regeneration by vegetative means; it is therefore unable to colonise new sites.
  • However, the tree having now regenerated by layering (due to a recent collapse of the original tree) means a new generation of small-leaved lime have been created.


Roseberry Topping – Steps TIMELAPSE

Over the past few months at work I have been helping to replace the old flight of steps which make up part of the main visitor route at Roseberry Topping. The old steps, winding their way up through Newton Wood, had deteriorated significantly – with the majority rotten and/or damaged and therefore dangerous and difficult to negotiate. In total, 188 new steps have been put in, no mean feat!

A new hedge at Roseberry Topping

In October last year I was successful in a grant application to the North York Moors National Park as part of their Traditional Boundary Scheme.

The application focussed on planting a new hedge, following a 700 metre stretch of the National Trust’s boundary at Roseberry Topping.

With over 4,200 trees to plant, the task was no small undertaking. At the start of January, with help from National Trust volunteer John, we started on the first section, quickly getting to grips with the hedge planting routine yet barely scratching the surface of what needed to be done.

The first section of hedge after being measured out in 1 metre sections


And the planting begins…

We needed some extra hands!

I called on the help of a range of volunteers from different organisations to help us complete the hedge.

Some facts and figures:

  • 29 different volunteers helped plant the hedge, with time given from the North York Moors HOBS group, a Ordnance Survey work party and our very own National Trust Midweek volunteers and Sunday volunteers
  • That equates to about 318.5 hours of hard work from volunteers, or 49 work days
  • With help from 3 members of staff, a total of 461.5 hours of individual work was undertaken
  • We planted over 4,200 trees, put in 4,200 stakes and wrapped around 4,200 spiral tree guards over 700 meters of our boundary
  • That equated to 86 bundles of trees, 17 bags of stakes and 17 boxes of guards, hefted up and over muddy footpaths to site, that’s without the additional tools necessary for the job
  • 2,940 Hawthorn, 420 Blackthorn, 252 Hazel, 210 Dog Rose, 126 Guelder Rose, 126 Field Maple, 126 Crab Apple and 20 Sessile Oak were planted
  • All materials for the project cost just over £2,000
  • We also created 20 habitat piles close to the new hedge using brash taken from existing trees in the hedgeline, which will allow light into the new trees but also provide additional valuable habitat
  • And finally, to keep us going we ate two batches of Alan’s Peanut Slice, some of Gill’s Potato & Pesto Roll, Chris’ Banana Loaf, Margaret’s birthday Fruit Loaf, along with a box of Fox’s Biscuits, a box of Cadbury Roses and a box of Nestle Quality Street. I thought I was putting on weight…

At any opportunity, I think it’s important to praise the help the National Trust receives from volunteers. As always, we couldn’t do what we do without you.

North York Moors National Park HOBS group


Ordnance Survey work party


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National Trust weekend volunteers


Through snow, rain and sunshine, smiles, groans and laughter, hard graft, thorned fingers and heavy calorie consumption – we finally completed the hedge in early February, just over one month after John and I started.

Alan, from the North York Moors National Park HOBS group had the honour of planting the last tree

And so, what was the reason for planting the hedge?

Traditional field boundaries, specifically dry stones walls and hedges, are a major part of the landscape character of the North York Moors National Park. The purpose of the National Park’s scheme is to encourage these to be managed or restored.

Specifically with the hedge at Roseberry Topping, there is evidence of a previous, older hedge having been in place along part of the current boundary, with a number of mature, sparsely grown Hawthorn trees along its way. We wanted to re-instate this historic feature.

Also, the wildlife value of creating a new hedge will be considerably huge, creating shelter, food, nesting spots and valuable habitat for a huge range of species – from flowers and insects, to birds and small mammals. It will also form a wildlife corridor, allowing species to move between different habitats and allowing the continuation of viable populations.

Finally, with the hedge being alongside a public footpath, we can take a walk alongside it and enjoy it individually, seeing it establish over the coming years!


Moth trapping!

Last week I was out in the depths of night with some of my colleagues doing a spot of moth trapping within Newton Wood at Roseberry Topping. We were joined by Dr Robert Woods, Conservation Officer for INCA (Industry Nature Conservation Association).

In total, 44 different species of moth visited our trap. Moth overload. Of those, particularly interesting were as follows.

The largest find of the night, a Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)…

Probably the commonest of our hawk-moths. Here posing on one of our legs and flashing its hindwings, showing a contrasting ginger patch, which is normally hidden. As its name suggests, the larvae often feed on poplar trees.

Our other hawk-moth find of the night, the locally common Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus)…

This beautifully coloured moth (PINK and GREEN) gets its English name from the caterpillar’s fanciful resemblance to an elephant’s trunk!

Another locally common find was a Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolabraria)…

The English name of this species is derived from the patches of hindwing which resemble, as again the name suggests, a scorched wing. Very distinctive once you notice it.

An intriguing find was the Peppered moth (Biston betularia)…

Peppered moths side by side

This is a common and widespread species but its evolution over the last two hundred years is very interesting. Originally, the vast majority of peppered moths had light colouration, which effectively camouflaged them against the light-coloured trees and lichens upon which they rested. However, due to widespread pollution during the Industrial Revolution in England, many of the lichens died out, and the trees which peppered moths rested on became blackened by soot, causing most of the light-coloured moths to die off due to predation. At the same time, the dark-coloured, or melanic moths – of the same species – flourished because of their ability to hide on the darkened trees.

Since then, with improved environmental standards, light-colored peppered moths have again become common, but the dramatic change in the peppered moth’s population has remained a subject of much interest and study. This has led to the coining of the term “industrial melanism” to refer to the genetic darkening of species in response to pollutants.


The most significant find was at the very end of our toils, whilst we were packing away – a Blomer’s Rivulet (Discoloxia blomeri)…

This a nationally scarce species, occurring sporadically throughout England and Wales in deciduous woodland habitats. It is regarded as important from a conservation perspective, both in its own right due to its nationally scarce status but also as a representative of a group of moths which are specialised feeders on elm at the larval stage.

So overall, a very good result from our first evening of moth trapping. Not only did it help us get more familiar with moths in general and their importance to us but we also got off to a good start in finding some of the species on our properties and had some fun in the process.

* NOTE to others. If you ever venture out into woodland at night to do some moth trapping, take some insect-repellent with you! We survived an onslaught of midges in the process of our mothing, resulting in some severe post trapping itching…

Fat hand!
Species List for Newton Wood, Roseberry Topping (NZ575127) from Moth Recording on  5.7.12
Taxon Vernacular Authority Individuals Status
Pandemis heparana Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Tortrix viridana Green Oak Tortrix Linnaeus, 1758 1 Common
Chrysoteuchia culmella Garden Grass-veneer (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Thyatira batis Peach Blossom (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Idaea aversata Riband Wave (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Xanthorhoe montanata Silver-ground Carpet ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Colostygia pectinataria Green Carpet (Knoch, 1781) 1 Common
Perizoma alchemillata Small Rivulet (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Discoloxia blomeri Blomer’s Rivulet (Curtis, 1832) 1 Nb
Plagodis dolabraria Scorched Wing (Linnaeus, 1767) 1 Local
Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Biston betularia Peppered Moth (Linnaeus, 1758) 2 Common
Alcis repandata Mottled Beauty (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Campaea margaritata Light Emerald (Linnaeus, 1767) 1 Common
Laothoe populi Poplar Hawk-moth (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Deilephila porcellus Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Local
Pheosia gnoma Lesser Swallow Prominent (Fabricius, 1777) 1 Common
Eilema lurideola Common Footman (Zincken, 1817) 1 Common
Agrotis exclamationis Heart and Dart (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder (Linnaeus, 1761) 1 Common
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing Linnaeus, 1758 1 Common
Lycophotia porphyrea True Lover’s Knot ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Diarsia mendica Ingrailed Clay (Fabricius, 1775) 2 Common
Diarsia brunnea Purple Clay ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 9 Common
Xestia triangulum Double Square-spot (Hufnagel, 1766) 1 Common
Anaplectoides prasina Green Arches ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Polia nebulosa Grey Arches (Hufnagel, 1766) 8 Common
Lacanobia oleracea Bright-line Brown-eye (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Rusina ferruginea Brown Rustic (Esper, 1785) 1 Common
Euplexia lucipara Small Angle Shades (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Apamea monoglypha Dark Arches (Hufnagel, 1766) 1 Common
Apamea lithoxylaea Light Arches ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common
Apamea crenata Clouded-bordered Brindle (Hufnagel, 1766) 1 Common
Apamea epomidion Clouded Brindle (Haworth, 1809) 3 Common
Apamea remissa Dusky Brocade (Hübner, 1809) 1 Common
Oligia fasciuncula Middle-barred Minor (Haworth, 1809) 1 Common
Autographa gamma Silver Y (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Migrant
Autographa pulchrina Beautiful Golden Y (Haworth, 1809) 1 Common
Rivula sericealis Straw Dot (Scopoli, 1763) 1 Common
Hypena proboscidalis Snout (Linnaeus, 1758) 1 Common
Herminia grisealis Small Fan-foot ([Denis & Schiffermüller], 1775) 1 Common