Making a difference

Conservation grazing is a good way to encourage wildflowers

The Belted Galloway cows are not only enjoying their retirement, they're having a big impact on the flora of the hill. Wildflowers are popping up everywhere.

We introduced the girls to May Hill a few years ago and we haven't looked back since. Combined with the regular cutting of the bracken, the hill is getting more and more colourful every year.

Wildflowers

A few years ago, you could only see bluebells in the field above the water tank. They've now spread across many other areas. If you're out for a spring walk, they're a real treat.

Bluebells
Bluebells
Bluebells

It's not just the bluebells that are benefitting from the belties munching activities. The well established wild daffodils on top of the hill are also spreading.

Yellow rattle flowers that were a rare sight seven years ago are now common. Heath bedstraw is also now so well established it can appear as though there's been a shower of hail.

In 2007 the team of volunteers recorded 31 clumps of heather. Amazing, just ten years later they mapped 109 clumps, with many merging to form larger mats.

Ling heather
Ling heather
Ling heather

The cows are having a big impact on the oddly named lousewort too. It's now becoming increasingly common and flowering well.

Orchids

As the cows do their thing and the grassland improves, orchids are slowly starting to appear. One green-winged orchid was seen on the hill top this year but last year three dozen spotted orchids where counted.

Common spotted orchid
Common spotted orchid
Common spotted orchid
" It's amazing to see the difference the belties are having on the hill. I don't think I've ever seen it so full of flowers. Although the girls are retired, they're definitely working hard"
- David Armstrong, Lead Ranger and Project Manager