Upper Wharfedale what to see in summer

Wharfedale footpath at Strans Wood

The summer is when Upper Wharfedale is full of life and you can see the classic Dales landscape, shaped by hundreds of years of farming culture, looking at its most vibrant. Fields full of colourful wild flowers, hill sides lush and green with trees and scrub woodland, and on the fell tops buzzards gliding on thermal air.

The hay meadows are a farmers in-bye land.  In spring they are used for lambing, but now in summer the ewes and lambs are up on the fells and the meadows are ‘shut up’ allowing them to grow. On a walk through the fields at Cray or Yockenthwaite you’re likely to see cranesbill, devil's-bit scabious, common knapweed, pignut, bird's-foot trefoil, salad burnet, and three species of orchid; common, fragrant and butterfly. These fields aren’t just important for wildflowers and the insects and birds they support, but in July they are cut and used as winter feed for the farmers animals. As the hay meadows are such an important habitat and crop please stay on established footpaths.

Flowers in abundance
A close up photograph of hay meadow showing red clover, sheep's sorrel and common bird's-foot-trefoil
Flowers in abundance

June is a great time of year to see butterflies, and good places to see them fluttering by are woodland edges and fields. You might see common blue, large white, peacock, tortoiseshell, fritillaries and northern brown argus. Some of these butterflies, like the northern brown argus, are rare and the limestone habitat is very important for them to survive as the caterpillar feeds on the rock rose, which we monitor yearly.

 

Brown Argus butterflies are just one of the types you may find on your walk
Brown Argus butterflies in the wood, in Lavenham, Sufolk
Brown Argus butterflies are just one of the types you may find on your walk

Mid to late summer is a great time to spot bats. In the evening, at twilight, take a walk down to Buckden bridge and you might catch a glimpse of this winged mammal silhouetted against the dusk sky. They feed on insects like midge fly and moths; the pipistrelle bat can catch and eat over 3000 insects a night.

 

A common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) flies overhead
Common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) in flight over silver birch branch
A common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) flies overhead

You can join us on a guided bat walk in August to view these nocturnal woodlanders, learn more about them and listen to their conversations using bat detectors. To find out more please see our events list.