Bridestones Moor

Bridestones Moor has been managed for nature since 1943 when the National Trust was bequeathed  the 165 acre estate including the small farm of Low Staindale.

The Times reported that “this is a wild and beautiful region, the haunt of curlew and grouse, with lovely stretches of heather, attracting many visitors for its own sake as well as to see the bridestones2‘National Trust Acquisition’ (1943) Times, 08 Apr, 6, available: https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/CS101792904/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=80c2bdec [accessed 06 Oct 2021]..

The Bridestones are the dozen or so tors of Corallian siliceous sandstone which are more resistant to the effects of the weather than the surrounding calcium carbonate which have slowly dissolved by the action of rainwater.

As the moor has not been intensively managed for the production of grouse nor by over-grazing by sheep, it is an exceedingly rich diverse habitat. However, self-seeded conifers from the contiguous Dalby Forest need to be periodically pulled out, and the ever encroaching bracken too needs to be controlled. Best equipped to trample and break up the bracken rhizomes are a herd of hardy cattle.

Some plants such, as Juniper, are pioneers requiring a minimal covering of vegetation in order to germinate. Under ‘natural’ conditions, these areas of disturbed ground could come about by episodes of intensive browsing and trampling by migratory native herbivores3“MOORLAND RESEARCH REVIEW 2000-2005”. Edited by Martin Hammond. North York Moors National Park Authority 2007.. The introduction of cattle on open moorland is an attempt at replicating this pioneering ecology.

I’m not sure exactly what breed these cattle are. The rest of the herd were a variety of colours. Likely contenders are Black Angus, Galloway or Luing. All these hardy cattle breeds are lighter and more nimble than the lowland continental ones. They are more able to cope with the rough terrain of the uplands, less likely to get stuck in boggy ground, and have a tendency to explore and browse trees and shrubs [Scottish Forestry – 6.2.2 Selecting species and breed of livestock]

  • 1
    Gov.scot. (2018). Scottish Forestry – 6.2.2 Selecting species and breed of livestock. [online] Available at: https://forestry.gov.scot/woodland-grazing-toolbox/grazing-management/grazing-regime/selecting-species-and-breed [Accessed 7 Oct. 2021].
  • 2
    ‘National Trust Acquisition’ (1943) Times, 08 Apr, 6, available: https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/CS101792904/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=80c2bdec [accessed 06 Oct 2021].
  • 3
    “MOORLAND RESEARCH REVIEW 2000-2005”. Edited by Martin Hammond. North York Moors National Park Authority 2007.

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