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Askham Bog YWT North Yorkshire

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Cold and frozen in Jan 2008.
Mark Coates
Cold and frozen in Jan 2008.

Site Location Details

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Site Details

Askham Bog is remarkable survivor of the ancient fenlands of Yorkshire and is Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's oldest nature reserve. It occupies the site of an ancient lake, left behind by a retreating glacier 15,000 years ago - the low hill to the south of the Bog, along which the A64 road runs, is the terminal moraine from that glacier. Since Roman times it has been used by local communities as a source of peat for fuel, resulting in a mosaic of habitats and a legacy of ditches, probably originally used for peat extraction. The edges of the Bog are kept base-rich by water draining from the moraine and harbour the greatest diversity of plants and insects, including marsh orchids, marsh violet and meadow thistle. The colony of gingerbread sedge in Far Wood is the largest in England and some of the royal ferns are huge and probably very old. The site was once renowned for water beetles and though some rare species still occur, many were lost when the adjacent Challoner's Whin was used as a municipal dumping ground early in the 20th Century. However, the moth fauna is still exceptional, with rare species such as the fen square-spot. Birds are abundant, including Woodcock, Buzzard, Willow and Marsh Tits, Grasshopper and Reed Warblers. In winter huge twittering flocks of Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin feed on birch and alder seeds. Roe deer and foxes are seen regularly and the pond is a great place to watch Water Voles, while overhead many dragonflies including the spectacular emperor can be seen on warm summer days. In 1946, the Bog was purchased by the famous sweet manufacturers Francis Terry and Arnold Rowntree and the Yorkshire Naturalists' (now Wildlife) Trust was formed to receive it as a gift: Askham Bog therefore holds a special place in the history of nature conservation in Yorkshire. Decades of active management, including cutting meadows for hay and grazing by Exmoor ponies, have restored in biodiversity.

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