Wildlife at Hardcastle Crags

From bats to beetles and skylarks to bluebells there's ​plenty to be discovered as you explore.


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.

Hay meadow

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.


Roe deer are the largest mammals found here and are easily recognised by their characteristic white rumps. The valley is also home to eight species of bat, including pipistrelle, whiskered, Natterer's and noctule.


Herons, dippers and wagtails can often be found by the river. Rarer birds such as the green woodpecker, redstart, grey wagtail, bullfinch, willow warbler, wood warbler and song thrush can also be seen around the site.
A bird nest on a moss blanket.

Heart shaped nest 

A regular clear-out of nest boxes by National Trust volunteers at Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire, revealed heartbreak for one pair of empty-nester birds.



Many invertebrates are associated with decaying wood, so Hardcastle Crags provides an ideal home for a number of significant species, including fungus beetles, rove beetles, moths and ants. See how many you can find.

Plant life

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.

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