Our Moorland 

Britain has 75% of the world’s remaining heather moorland which provide safe havens for important and rare ground nesting birds such as curlew, lapwing, merlin, golden plover and black grouse.The moorland is not, in fact, wild - it is managed and, as such, needs your help and respect in order to protect and enjoy it.

What’s it used for? – to graze cattle and sheep and for wild red grouse to breed. Red Grouse are very special - they are only found in the UK and nowhere else in the world. Grouse shooting drives much of the vital investment needed to manage these moors and keeps them looking beautiful.

It is also a huge part of this rural community providing much employment and bringing in revenue to the local community.For some great information about this amazing sustainable conservation story – see the 3 Keeper videos listed below.

Did you know? Patchwork quilt effect; grouse need to eat fresh shoots of young heather plants, but for their nests, they need older, bigger plants to give them shelter from the wind and to hide from predators. They don't need to travel too far between their bed and their dinner table so small patches are carefully burnt across the moors. These small patches make room for new heather and other plants to grow. After many years the old heather is burnt before it gets too straggly for the grouse to nest in. The mixture of different aged heather, shrubs and mosses is  ideal habitat for lots of moorland wildlife.

The Countryside Code states:

  • Keep dogs under effective control
  • Prevent uncontrolled moorland fires
  • Protect plants and animals and take your litter home - leave no trace of your visit
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Consider other people

What does this mean ON THE MOORS?…

Keep dogs under effective control
Vunerable ground nesting birds such as lapwing, curlew, red grouse and merlin can be frightened off their nests, allowing their eggs to chill and die, or separate young chicks from their mothers, leaving them vulnerable to hungry predators.

If you take your dog onto the heather moors above the Dales, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals or other people by keeping it under effective control. This wording means that you:

  •         Keep your dog on a lead or...
  •        Keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it is doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command.
  •       Ensure it doesn't stray off the path or area where you have a right of access.
    This is the open access sign - 

Special dog rules often apply on moorlands, so plan ahead for your dog walks and always look out for local signs to protect important and rare wildlife and farm animals.
Due to the importance of heather moorlands as a wildlife habitat, dogs may not be allowed at all. You can plan your walks and check for dog restrictions by phoning the Open Access Contact Centre on 0845 100 3298 or look on www.naturalengland/openaccess. Look for local signs before setting off on moorland with your dog. If dogs are allowed, the access rights that normally apply to 'open access' require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July, to help protect ground nesting birds. Open Access areas are the areas with yellow wash on OS Map Explorer Series (1:25000 scale) and apply to most moorlands.
It's a legal requirement all year round on moorland to keep your dog on a lead around the grazing sheep and cattle for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. The farmer is permitted to shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog's owner. Because your dog cannot 'run free' on moorland, or may not be allowed at all, please consider alternative dog friendly walks - especially between March 1st and 31st July.
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Swaledale

Courtesy of Leni Hatcher and the National Trust's Outdoor Nation Project