Bradford Botany Group

Baildon Moor Visit

10th July2013



A group of 14 gathered in the car park on the eastern side of Baildon Moor for this evening trip. The sun was trying to break through after an overcast, breezy and cooler day, punctuating what was otherwise the first real heatwave in these parts since 2006. Harry began by giving a potted history of the area, pointing out the small settlements of Sconce, Low Hill and Moorside, the three ‘lost villages of Baildon’, nestling in the small valley on the NE side of the moor. The area had been the site of small-scale mining of coal and ore and we were to see the remains of bell pits on the moor later. Harry told us of local equestrian nobility in the form of Grand National winner ‘Aurora’s Encore’ and the legendary Harvey Smith and then we were off at a gallop across the moor.

Bog Asphodel with Cotton Grass

The grasses of this acid moor were at their peak. Occasional incursions of yellow oat grass allowed comparison with the more abundant false oat grass. Both common perennial hair grasses, wavy and tufted, were also compared. Red and sheep’s fescues and mat grass were seen as expected but a couple of surprises comprised the garden shrub, snowy mespil or ‘Juneberry’, and hemp-agrimony, a plant I have encountered on upland moors occasionally. There were good stands of bilberry, quite stunted in stature but already bearing edible fruit. Several of the group partook. Harry recommended the walk over the moors to Ilkley and distant patches of cottongrass could be seen against the dark moor .


We came across several flushes, where jointed and sharp-flowered rushes could be compared, although interest gravitated to what Neil might call ‘proper flowers’, chiefly in the form of common spotted-orchid. These interesting areas were separated by long tracts of bracken. Our pace picked up to a canter. Harry pointed out a single site for climbing corydalis. This delicate scrambling annual can grow to over one metre in favoured Pennine locations, on acid soils. Then we came upon the most interesting wet area of all. A large patch of bog asphodel was coming into bloom, not yet at its best. There was also round-leaved sundew and cranberry, the latter with fruits, not quite ripe. Crowberry was also coming into fruit. Marsh pennywort was dotted around the flushes


We turned NE and descended to the edge of the moor below Sconce Crag, before taking the path back to Hawksworth Road, which we crossed, continuing towards Hazel Head Wood at the eastern extremity of the access land. The track formed a boundary between the moor and farmland, boosting the species list with farm escapes. The usual suspects included several willowherbs, nipplewort and a patch of ground elder, attractive when in flower but perhaps not one for the garden! More welcome would be the white-flowered variety of hedgerow crane’s-bill, a garden escape.


It was approaching nine o’clock as we entered the home straight through a former quarry, adding goat willow to the tally. The setting sun now glowed brightly. It had been a fascinating trot around the moors and Harry’s local knowledge had been invaluable. I would think it’s odds on that he’ll be leading trips for us in future, joining the stable of reliable leaders on whom we count to make the summer field trip programme a success.