Great Fryup Dale
The Bell heather in this part of the North Yorkshire Moors begins to make a recovery and is in full bloom by this time of the year. The hardy plant is one of three types of heather that can be found at Great Fryup Dale and all over the North Yorkshire Moors. Cross leaved heath which is a light pink and bell shaped in appearance and prefers the boggy damp areas which are plentiful on the moor. Ling with its small pink flowers and Bell heather, the dark pink verity and is usually the first to flower at the end of July.
And something i always wondered was “why do they burn the heather on the moor”. The heather provides food for birds including the Red Grouse and other ground nesting birds. Sheep also chew on the fresh stems so it seemed little sense in burning it. However an uncle of mine who owns a local farm and is heavily involved with maintaining the North Yorkshire Moors explained that, as the heather grows over the years it becomes extremely tough and woody with very few leaves for animals to feed, ” no good to man nor beast ” the local saying goes. So it is burned systematically, patches at a time. Often in the winter when the moor is wet and there is less chance of fire getting out of control damaging the rich Peat soil below, and of course they will be no birds nesting which would always be the main concern.
The result of the area burning is there will be a diverse mix of long heather for nesting. And fresh shoots of new heather for sheep and grouse to feed on, which is what can be seen here, on the moor top at Fryup looking down into the valley below.