More about our Moorland

Prevent uncontrolled moorland fires

Uncontrolled deep seated fires are devastating to everything special about the moors; important wildlife, the rare heather habitat, the beautiful landscape, the carbon locked up in the peat soils, the quality of water out of your taps and the socio-economic glue of our rural communities.

  • All wildfires are caused by human carelessness. Smouldering cigarette ends, discarded bottles and dropped matches are all dangers.
  • Camp fires and BBQ's, even gas stoves, on open moorland are illegal.
  • Be aware that periods of hot, dry weather pose a high risk of wildfire and open access moorland may be closed. Local signs will be posted to warn you of the dangers.
  • Please help and call 999 if you see an unattended fire on the moors and alert the nearest dwelling.

So why can and do gamekeepers carry out controlled burning? To encourage fresh shoots of heather where it has grown old. This light surface burning, carried out under special rules, between 1st October and 15th April, provides food for sheep and red grouse. In contrast, uncontrolled fires destroy the ground beneath for decades.

Leave gates and property as you find them

Please respect the working life of the countryside, as our actions can affect people’s livelihoods, our heritage and the safety and welfare of animals and ourselves.

  • Gates – they may have been left open on purpose so that stock can reach food and water or to speed up vehicular access from time to time. Use commonsense when deciding to close one or not.
  • Dry stone walls – please don’t attempt to climb over these even if it looks as if they are partly collapsed. They are the signature of our very unique dales landscape.
  • Historic sites – there are many relics of the industrial era up on the moorland – please respect them and avoid climbing on them. They are part of our heritage.
  • Stiles – these are very narrow in this area of the dales so please take care not to dislodge any stones and take care when releasing the sprung loaded gates. Sheep will attempt to get through if the gates are damaged. Swaledale sheep are extremely agile.

Consider other people

Respect is the name of the game. Moorland creates year round jobs for shepherds, water bailiffs, gamekeepers and moorland regeneration contractors – all of whom contribute to the conservation of moorland and its thriving wildlife.

  • Gamekeepers - they play a crucial role in controlling rats, foxes, stoats, weasels and crows which prey on moorland birds. You may see predator traps and gamekeepers out with a firearm (sometimes at night too) – both are there to protect the birdlife. Please appreciate that gamekeepers are doing their job.
  • Grouse Shooting season – 12th August to 10th December. The moorland is vast but occasionally you may encounter a shooting party (except on Sunday). Indicators are vehicles parked up on moorland tracks, red flags, lines of people (beaters) walking across the moor or gunshot sound. Please respect them and keep away – many are local people who are all being paid.
  • Aerial spraying – this happens occasionally from mid July to mid September and is used to keep the bracken (fern) at bay which spreads quickly. You will normally see the helicopter based near Grinton YHA when this is taking place. Try and keep out of the areas during spraying.
  •  Large scale machinery – is rare on the moor but is used occasionally for heather reseeding or grip (drains/culverts/ditches) blocking – this is environmentally beneficial and carried out to exacting conservation standards. For more information – see Further Information

Be Safe - Plan Ahead

Hard work - walking through heather is tough and beneath the rugged heather are lots of holes, mines and pits. Sticking to paths and tracks will save many a twisted ancle and be prepared for cold and wet weather. It comes in fast and unpredictably on tops. A map and a compass will keep you out of trouble if the mist decends

Education for All

The Keeper  - Part One

The Keeper - Part Two

The Keeper - Part Three

The benefits of grouse moors: Interview with Natural England. Click here to watch.


Natural England’s Chief Executive, Dr Helen Phillips said: “Heather moorland, brought about by centuries of management for sheep and grouse, plays an essential role in maintaining the wildlife richness and much loved heather clad landscapes of Northern England. Natural England appreciates the very significant benefits that current best practice management on these grouse moors delivers and we applaud the members of the Moorland Association for their continued careful guardianship of these special places."

Back to Page 1

Swaledale & Arkengarthdale Business Forum (SABF)

 Click to go to the ERDF website            
Website by Purple Creative Studio

Courtesy of Leni Hatcher and the National Trust's Outdoor Nation Project