Have your say.

A carpet of bluebells surrounded by young and mature trees.

We are planning some work in the woodland here at Hardcastle Crags and we want to hear what you think.

The aim of this plan is to provide a ten year programme of woodland management to meet the Aims and Objectives of the NationalTrust here at Hardcastle Crags.

You can find the draft plan and supporing information by following the link below;


The consultation phase is open from 18/11/16 to 06/01/17.

Background to the Woodlands at Hardcastle Crags

Most of the woodland at Hardcastle Crags was planted in the 1870s as an attractive approach to Lord Savile’s shooting lodge at Walshaw. There are also small remnants of semi-natural and ancient woodland and some later conifer plantations. The main appeal lies in the great diversity of tree specieswithin the woodland. With the exclusion of livestock natural regeneration is increasing. The woodlands are covered by a Tree Preservation Order.

The nature conservation value of Hardcastle Crags is high in the context of its location (on the millstone grit of the Southern Pennines) supporting a range of species which are uncommon or rare in the area. This is mainly due to the deep, humid wooded valleys which provided some shelter from the air pollution which affected the region in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

The woodlands are of regional importance supporting a good range of plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals. The ground flora is typical of acid woodland with the richest areas associated with the streams and flushes. There is a low diversity of vascular plants, which is dominated by grasses with bracken in the more open parts. A number of uncommon species, mostly ferns, have been recorded. These are associated with the crags and riverside cliffs as well as man made structures such as walls and bridges. The woods are of particular interest for the bryophyte and lichen flora that thrive because of the high humidity in the deep valleys. The fungi are also of interest and have been well recorded by local naturalists with over 400 species noted.

A Northern Hairy Wood Ant at Hardcastle Crags
A close up of a Northern Hairy Wood Ant at Hardcastle Crags
A Northern Hairy Wood Ant at Hardcastle Crags

The northern hairy wood ant dominates the invertebrate fauna of the property; their large nests are widely distributed through the woodland. At least three closely associated species are found with it, indicating a native population. The 1987 Biological Survey also found invertebrate fauna associated with relict ancient woodland or wood-pasture. A good variety of woodland birds have been recorded including many nationally scarce species. There is also a good range of mammals including bats, roe deer and badgers.

Hardcastle Crags (not just the NT ownership) is by far the largest block of woodland in the surrounding area. It lies at the heart of the Calder Ward with a population of over 12,000.
National Trust holdings are open access, with approximately 25 kilometres of maintained footpath through the woodland, with approximately 2/3 of this total being statutory rights of way. An estimated 100,000 visitors a year use the site for recreation, mainly walking based activities.

The archaeology of Hardcastle Crags is predominated by industrial remains of a variety of forms and dates. The most obvious of these is Gibson Mill, a cotton mill constructed about 1800, with its associated waterworks, workmen’s cottages and other domestic and service structures. Another aspect of the industrial archaeological resource is a large collection of charcoal burning platforms, spread throughout the property. These may, or may not, be associated with a third set of industrial features –evidence for iron smelting, arguably of medieval date –identified in the earlier decades of the 20th century.

Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags
Gibson Mill seen through trees in Autumn at Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags