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Conservationists - famous moor may not be a moor for much longer

[Thursday 22 June 2006]

CONCERNS are being raised that Ilkley Moor - a world famous West Yorkshire beauty spot - may not be classed as a moor for much longer.

Made famous around the globe by the traditional Yorkshire county anthem 'On Ilkley Moor Baht'at', the 1, 670 acre expanse above the spa town is becoming overgrown with Bracken - it is now estimated to cover twenty percent of the moor.

Bracken threatens Culew habitat on
Ilkley Moor

The weed, which is the bane of all moorland managers, can grow up to six feet tall and deprives other plants and grasses - common on the moor are heather, crowberry, bilberry and sedges - of the light they need to flourish. Bracken also releases compounds into the soil that can prevent other species from growing.

Ilkley Moor is also the only site in West Yorkshire where chickweed wintergreen and a number of fern varieties can be found.

Conservationists are now becoming concerned that the spread of Bracken could lead to the area failing to meet the definition of a moor - and thus to its renaming as Ilkley Hill.

The areas of grass being overrun by Bracken are important dwelling habitats for birds such as the lapwing and curlew. For this reason Bradford Council, which owns and manages the moor, has already carried out some Bracken control by cutting and crushing the weed, a method that eliminates the need to use pesticides.

The council now intends to step-up its control of Bracken by reintroducing native species, as well as working with other conservation groups. Discussions are also underway with neighbouring land owners and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to expand a stewardship scheme across the whole of Ilkley and Rombalds Moors.

  • 'On Ilkley Moor Baht'at' is the unofficial county anthem of Yorkshire and tells the story of a young man courting a woman called Mary Jane on the moor without a hat (baht'at). He eventually succumbs to the cold and freezes to death.

    For the full lyrics, visit www.ilkley.org

Your views:

  • The idea of renaming Ilkley Moor simply because of the bracken, incenses the vast majority of normal thinking people. Every single person I speak with asks the same question; who pays you to dream up such idiotic ideas?

    The idea emanates from the same bunch of insane extremists who are trying to impose their nonsensical ideas on the British public eg. the much ridiculed 'straight banana! Whether it be Political Correctness, The Green Party, Friends of the Earth or any other of these fanatics, they all belong to the same institution and as such really should be institutionalised...a Mental Health Institute!

    Interestingly, the dictionary definition of a moor is a tract of land...containing bracken. If you have nothing better to do with your time, are you also going to rename Sheepwash, near Osmotherley; I am sure they don't wash sheep there any more...or Clifton Moor, York, or maybe Alwoodley, Leeds or even Woodlands Avenue, Tadcaster plus the inumerable number of similar places?

    Do you not realise that an authemtic technical definition is one thing but trying to rename a locality simply due to that definition is ludicrous and will and should,lose you support. Each and every generation has its own problems to solve and personally, I am far too busy trying to combat everyday problems in order to get through my life, than to worry about silly purile issues that may or may happen in years to come.

    A.D. Dover - Tadcaster

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