The mixed woodland at Hardcastle Crags is managed to encourage natural regeneration of native broadleaved species. Fallen trees and standing deadwood are left to provide habitats for invertebrates, birds and bats.
Species-rich hay meadows can be found high on the valley sides, close to the Widdop Road. The meadows are cut in late summer after the plants have flowered, allowing the seed to be collected. Types of birds and insects commonly found on meadows include the skylark, twite, meadow pippet, and various types of beetle.
Ponds and rivers
Mill ponds from a past industrial age now provide aquatic habitats for invertebrates, fish, amphibians and birds. The fast flowing streams of Hebden Water and Crimsworth Dean Beck flow through Hardcastle Crags too.
This ancient semi-natural woodland is a mixture of native broadleaf trees (including oak, birch and alder) and planted areas of beech and pine. A rich variety of plant life can also be seen, with species such as great woodrush, bilberry, bluebell, wood sorrel and climbing corydalis.
Fungi, bryophytes and lichens
Lichens and bryophytes (liverworts, mosses and hornworts) thrive in this area because of the high humidity in the deep valleys. There are also numerous fungi, with over 400 species noted by local naturalists.
- Roe deer in the early morning or evening.
- Northern Hairy Wood Ants and their huge nests.
- The Great Spotted Woodpecker up in the trees.
- Newts around the Millpond, and sometimes in the boiler room.
- Bats emerging from their roosts at dusk around Gibson Mill.
- Dippers on the stepping stones.
- Common frogs and toads breeding in the ponds and boggy areas.
- Herons flying under the bridge at Gibson Mill.