Snaizeholme Field Trip September 26th 2013
Red squirrels, part of our countryside for 10,000 years, used to number 3.5million in the UK. In the 19th century the larger grey squirrel, introduced from North America spread relentlessly, out competing the red for food and spreading a deadly virus which left the greys unaffected. Snaizeholme is one of a handful of sites in NE England which is being managed to encourage the reds. After a longish drive and a short walk we had amazing photo opportunities of these delightful animals scampering about eating and ‘squirreling’ away the nuts which we had brought for them.
At the reserve there is a feeding station and information about how tree species such as Larch and Scots Pine are being planted to provide the cones which the reds prefer to eat. Sycamores are weeded out as they attract the greys to cross the buffer zone created by the wild fells of Widdale. Stick piles encourage stoats and weasels to nest as they help to keep rabbit numbers down.
Once we had all filled our cameras’ memory cards with cute squirrel photos we drove to Ribblehead for lunch. Whernside and the viaduct looked stunning in the sun, so quickly delete several squirrel photos!
The drive down Ribblesdale showed off Ingleborough and Pen y Ghent equally well and as we had time, Will introduced us to a hidden gem. An industrial archaeology site, the huge Hoffman lime kiln, just outside Settle, the back drop to which is a vast quarry wall where Raven and Peregrine breed.
Tea at the Ye Olde Naked Man Café in Settle and we were back in Harrogate for 5.30pm.
This is the last of the field meetings which Will Rich is organising after many over the past few years. Many thanks to him for so many successful trips. Colin Slator has taken over the planning for this coming year and I hope there will be continued support for what will be a great itinerary. Will is still going to drive the minibus when he is available, so watch this space!