Bradford Botany Group

Attermire and Langcliffe Local Nature Reserve

July 26th 2014



Our venue today for the 18 members who turned up on a hot summer’s day was Attermire Local Nature Reserve, situated on the limestone scars above Langcliffe village near Settle. It is an important archaeological site as well as of botanical interest, with hut circles showing human settlement over a prolonged time period and Victoria Cave which yielded bones of now extinct mammals. All this was explained to us by our leader, Mike, together with details of our intended route and botanical highlights to come.


We started on a pleasant path through pastures, a chance to check our grasses - sweet vernal, Yorkshire fog, common bent and tufted hair-grass predominated. As we climbed higher, more calcareous conditions prevailed, with crested hair-grass and glaucous sedge, then blue moor-grass. Small limestone outcrops added colour with thyme and bird’s-foot trefoil, together with the rock-loving wall-rue and brittle bladder-fern.

Holly Fern

Higher up, we were pleased when the slope levelled out - now we were on a sort of well grassed over limestone pavement. Occasional flowers of mountain pansy and spring sandwort were spotted, and eagle-eyed David found a few moonworts still present, although now past their best. A more defined section of pavement yielded one of the real rarities of the reserve - the holly fern. Although more of a montane plant to be found in the Scottish Highlands, Lakes and North Wales, it has just a few relict populations in the limestone pavements of the Dales and upper Pennines. Green spleenwort, twayblade and dog’s mercury also populated these grikes. We lunched on Ben Scar summit, enjoying the welcome breeze and views over to Pendle and Bowland.


We then descended to a completely different habitat - a soligenous mire, to add lots of new plants to our day’s tally. The wetter conditions were also an attraction for the local residents, i.e. the highland cattle, which were obviously enjoying the plants as much as we were, but for different reasons. Nevertheless, the overall impact of them is beneficial to prevent overgrowth of vegetation and maintain the habitat for a more diverse range of species.


The bird’s-eye primroses had gone over, but just coming into flower was grass-of-parnassus, a worthy successor as the season advances. Another white flower in full bloom was knotted pearlwort. There was lesser spearwort, various sedges to identify, few-flowered spike-rush, lesser clubmoss, butterwort, marsh arrow-grass, marsh willowherb, water mint - and plenty more to keep us interested.

  The mid-afternoon heat made us lethargic as we followed the path uphill towards Victoria Cave. However, a couple of autumn gentians (fellworts) spotted on the path-side re-stimulated our interest, and on the nearby screes were the limestone loving ferns - rigid buckler-fern and limestone oak-fern to admire on our way back to the cars.