Grassington audio trail
This Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority mp3 trail will take you on a voyage of discovery through 10,000 years of history around Grassington. Thanks to Natural England and the local farmer you can freely explore much of the land this trail runs through because it is covered by an Environmental Stewardship Scheme funded by Natural England allowing open access. The conservation of the landscape and its features is one of the main purposes of environmental funding that farmers have benefited from over the last 20 years. This farmer in particular is looking after the walling pattern, historic features, permanent grassland, woodland and limestone grassland found on his farm.
The farmer has agreed to maintain a certain number of walls on the farm in solid, stock proof condition. This maintains the unique and ancient pattern of walled enclosure that you can see from this access area. The historic features within the access area are not allowed to be damaged by agricultural operations, therefore preserving them within the landscape. The higher grassland fields around the access area are managed as permanent grassland with low levels of fertiliser used. This encourages certain species of wild flower to grow and restricts the stronger more dominant grasses from inhabiting the fields.
One of these higher grassland fields is Lea Green which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), designated for its species rich limestone grassland flora and limestone pavement. The farmer is sensitively managing this field to allow the limestone-loving wild flowers and grasses to flower and set seed during the summer months. The farmer has to reduce livestock numbers during this period to allow this to happen. This in turn creates habitats that butterflies and other insects absolutely love. On a calm day during the summer, you will see the nationally rare Northern Brown Argus butterfly which needs a specific plant to lay its eggs on - the northern rock rose. Lea Green is grazed by cattle and sheep. Cattle are ideal for grazing these high limestone pastures as they prefer to eat the longer coarser grasses - this creates more open areas within the sward where seed from flowering plants can colonise. Sheep prefer the shorter grasses found around the limestone rock outcrops and only a small flock is allowed to graze Lea Green during the spring. They are taken out of the field for the rest of the year to allow the flowering plants to bloom.
If you walk through Lea Green and join the footpath through Bastow Wood, this area is being managed to encourage downy birch, ash and hawthorn scrub to develop. This creates a natural edge to Grass Wood and also another area for butterflies, other insects and fungi to flourish. This area is not grazed by livestock, and rabbit numbers are being controlled to allow natural regeneration of tree species to occur. Bastow Wood is also an SSSI and grazing requirements for this site are being monitored within the Environmental Stewardship Scheme. It is a fine balance between allowing natural regeneration of tree species to occur and maintaining the open grassland areas .
You will need to download the map we have provided because some of the stopping points are quite hard to locate unless you know what you are looking for. We also always recommend that you bring an Ordnance Survey map if you are going for a walk in the National Park. Grassington is covered by Explorer OL2. You will need footwear suitable for rough, muddy ground and waterproofs are also a good idea. Find out more about what to take and how to be safe on a country walk by reading the Countryside Code.