I’ve been away for a few days for a family wedding in Edinburgh. It was a slightly strange but very happy event with few guests (six of us) and where the wedding breakfast was held in the open air, by the Scottish Parliament looking up at Arthur’s Seat, drinking champagne and eating take-away pizza. But some noisy fledged Peregrines and their parents did several fly-pasts to add their congratulations.
En route either north or south it would have been remiss not to pop in to some driven grouse moors as we went the pretty way through Nidderdale, the Yorkshire Dales NP, North Pennines AONB and then south via Langholm and Forest of Bowland AONB.
It’s not a great time for seeing wildlife on the moors, mid July, but some of the meadows were quite pretty with buttercups and Meadowsweet.
There was a chipping Snipe on this in-bye above Swaledale and a pair of Oystercatchers with chicks and Curlews bubbling further down the valley.
The aim was to head up the road to Tan Hill, glancing to the west (left) at a moor where a couple of Hen Harriers have disappeared in the past, but an over-ambitious Argos delivery van was stuck on a hairpin just across the Swale from the B6270 so we had to carry on to Kirkby Stephen and re-route.
We headed up the Tees and crossed over to the Wear at St John’s Chapel via a Black Grouse-less Langdon Beck, but we saw a Peregrine in the land of the Prince Bishops.
I glanced up towards Bollihope and remembered the conversation of almost a couple of years ago when the locals in a pub were talking of the link between the grouse shooting of the Crown Prince of Dubai and the races at Newcastle. At present, racing is behind closed doors with no general public and very limited access even for owners so the shoot-race social double is looking a bit unlikely. Maybe by 4 September, the next Newcastle meeting, things will have loosened up a bit and the fifty quid notes will find their way into local shops as they do when the sheikhs are in town.
We took the western route home via Langholm Moor.
I was quite shocked to see how grassy the area now is, and the number of self-seeded conifers dotted across the moor.
The sooner the community buy-out rescues this site, the better.
We returned to England via the edges of Kielder Forst and then to Bowland where I had to stand on the bridge over the Wyre. I often make a detour to stand here. It’s partly because it is down the hill from one of the best views in England, over Morecambe Bay and the Lake District (but not yesterday when it was misty, although there were some commuting Lesser Black-backs heading for the coast from the moors (see here)) but it’s also because it was really there, thinking on that bridge, that I became more certain that a ban of driven grouse shooting was what was required, and was worth campaigning for (see Inglorious, pp184-198 for the full context but particularly 187-88).
There were more Pheasants than Red Grouse on the moorland road away from the bridge, but there weren’t many of either. Still, it’s July. Not the best time to see the wildlife of the moors.[registration_form]