Up on the
Upper Teesdale is one of the richest grasslands in the country. At Herdship
Farm , livestock takes a backseat and wildlife comes to the fore. There are guided
walks around the farm and everywhere you turn there is something different to
accounts for 70% of the British Isles exerting a significant influence on wildlife.
farmers were encouraged to grow as much as they could but that was bad news for
birds, plants and animals.
Chemicals were poured onto the land, hedges
removed and grassland turned to crops.
Not in the wild and untamed North Pennines - the very backbone
of England - as bleak as it is beautiful.
And though it might look like
a wilderness the upper reaches of Teesdale contains one of the richest grasslands
in the country.
From a distance it looks like any other farmland - but
take a closer look and it is farmland with a difference.
deserts devoid of life - this is a rich man made habitat, bursting with flowers
At Herdship Farm - livestock takes a backseat, and the wildlife
comes to the fore.
The farm works hard on grassland management to maintain
the delicate balance that allows wildlife to thrive here.
There are guided
walks around the farm - there is even a leaflet to help you on your way - and
everywhere you turn there is something different to see.
The high rainfall
and altitude give this place its own distinctive feeling.
But it is what is under the ground that makes this place really
This is called sugar limestone. Three hundred million years ago,
hot rock from the earth's mantle burst through the limestone, baking it and changing
The soil is crumbly, rich in calcium supporting some amazing
plant life including the rare Spring Gentian, a delicate blue flower, and the
The soil, together with the way the pastures have been
managed for generations has provided the ideal home for wildflowers and herbs
the plants attract the insects and the insects bring in the birds.
Herdship Farm is one of the best farms in England for bird watching
especially for Lapwings with their striking black and white markings.
love the moist soil which retains its springiness into early summer, enabling
them to dig for worms.
Look out for the Common Sandpiper, the Grey Wagtail,
the Redshank with its long red legs, and the Curlew.
A good place to see
them is by the side of a stream - keep still, be patient and watch a great display
In the summer birds feed on the abundance of flying insects. Look
out for the brown coloured Meadow Pipit which lives on the bankside of streams.
Photographs courtesy of Herdship Farm and