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Emperor moth caterpillar Emperor moth caterpillar in moorland vegetation

What to do to enjoy wildlife

The Yorkshire Dales is a great place to see wildlife. There are hay meadows in the valley bottoms and rivers, lakes and the heather moorland on the tops. From early spring through to the autumn you should be able to spot many of the birds which frequent the area such as the curlew with its evocative call, the lapwing with its drunken flight or the red grouse up on the moorland.

Top five ideas

  • See and hear birds such as the curlew and lapwing
  • Visit the peregrine viewing point at Malham Cove
  • Visit an open farm to meet the animals
  • Walk through a hay meadow in summer time
  • See the endangered red squirrel

Farm animals

You can see farm animals at one of the open farms – Hesketh Farm Park and Holme Open Farm – roaming in the fields or unconstrained up in the hills. There are Swaledale sheep throughout the Dales, Rough Fells in the Howgills and some rarer breeds such as the Wensleydale. There is also a range of hardy cattle breeds including shaggy Highland Cattle and the distinctive Belted Galloway. Then there is Kilnsey Park where you can meet a variety of animals, many wandering around the estate, or have a go at catching your first fish.

Red squirrels

The red squirrel is the only native species of squirrel in the country. It is now under serious threat from the larger grey squirrel. Snaizeholme near Hawes is one of 16 Red Squirrel Reserve Woodlands in the north of England. The coniferous woodland is an ideal habitat for red squirrels. The public viewing area lies in the heart of the Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve. It offers an excellent chance of getting superb views of the creatures.

Woodland walks

Grass Wood near Grassington is a Nature Reserve. The best time to see it in flower is late spring and early summer. It is a good place to see and hear woodland birds such as the tree pippit, wood warbler, pied flycatcher and redstart and to see butterflies on dry, calm days. It is a short walk from the village of Grassington along the River Wharfe or via part of the Dales Way.

Freeholders’ Wood at Aysgarth has a woodland trail to guide you through the trees. The wood runs alongside the famous Aysgarth Falls.