Looking after Hardcastle Crags

Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire

Every time you buy a coffee at our cafe or pay for car parking, that money goes straight back to looking after Hardcastle Crags. Find out how we look after the woods and Gibson Mill.

Looking after nature

With 160 hectares (140 acres) of unspoilt woodlands and more than 15 miles (24km) of footpaths to look after, there's plenty to keep our team busy. Our rangers are always busy repairing fences, paths, sign posts and picnic benches.

Repairing a footbridge at Hardcastle Crags
Volunteers and rangers repair a footbridge damaged by a storm
Repairing a footbridge at Hardcastle Crags

Sometimes trees get damaged too. Our team make sure they're safe.We're also embarking on an ambitious project to plant more than 4,000 native trees at Hardcastle Crags. These will improve the habitat for wildlife including insects, birds and mammals.

Planting trees in the woods at Hardcastle Crags
A ranger and a volunteer stand either side of a young sapling being planted
Planting trees in the woods at Hardcastle Crags

We're really lucky to have many rare plants and animals in the woods at Hardcastle Crags. We have special birds like the redstart and the pied fly catcher, the northern hairy wood ant as well as roe deer. Our team take part in nature surveys as well as building nest boxes to help our woodland visitors. We've also been restoring the meadows around Hardcastle Crags. We have some incredibly rare types of fungus that only grow when the grasslands have been carefully managed.

Scarlet waxcap fungi
Scarlet waxcap fungi
Scarlet waxcap fungi

Looking after Gibson Mill

Gibson Mill is a beautiful historic building, but it needs care and attention. It was one of the UK’s first mills to power the Industrial Revolution. The mill was built around 1800 and driven by a water wheel to produce cotton cloth.

The mill is the first renewable place looked after by the National Trust that’s completely off the grid. This means we're not connected to mains power, water or the sewage network. 

Checking the batteries in Gibson Mill
A man in a National Trust fleece reaches up to check large battery packs on a wall
Checking the batteries in Gibson Mill

As well as the day to day maintenace that goes along with a building of this age, our team also have to maintain all the special features that allow us to be off the grid. This includes lighting the wood-fuelled boiler every day to power the hot water for the Weaving Shed Cafe, maintaining our battery system, and looking after our special toilets (powered by worms).