Michael found a delightful leaflet, ‘Discover Moorland and Wildlife,’ in our local library. It is produced by the Hawk and Owl Trust, and I’m sure many will share our enthusiasm and enjoy the moorland trek.
Pull on your boots, and record the wildlife found along this trail. It’s marked by six coloured posts.
Start at the Jugger Howe layby off the A171 Scarborough to Whitby road, one mile south of the Flask Inn and Cafe (toilets for customers). No dogs please, as they can disturb wildlife.
White post: Begin at the white post along a concrete track laid during World War Two. To your right are two bronze age burial mounds called howes. Can you spot three varieties of heather? Look for the common blue butterfly and bright red six-spot burnet moth. Where the track is less acidic, seek common spotted orchids. Watch out for adders and slow worms.
Red post: Passing the red post on your left, keep
directly ahead as the concrete becomes a track. Listen for skylarks and meadow pipits. A merlin may hunt small birds over the heather. Red grouse and sheep feed on heather shoots. “Go back, go back” is the unmistakable call of the grouse. Beside
the track are purple violets – the favoured food of the small pearl-bordered fritillary caterpillars.
Pass on your left the 400m target trench used for firing practice in World War Two.
Reaching the top of the steps leading down to Jugger Beck, enjoy the view. Is a kestrel hovering, or swifts gliding? A sound like two stones being knocked together is the call of a stonechat.
Green post: Pause here to identify the songs of whitethroat, and willow warblers, and chiff chaff. Yellowhammer, redstart, chaffinch and tits may be heard.
Yellow post: Turn right and as you approach the yellow post you’ll smell the bog myrtle used to flavour gale ale. Dragonflies and common hawker may be spotted along the alder-edged beck. A plopping sound may indicate a water vole. Retrace your steps back to the green post. Now turn right to follow the valley path. Sharp eyes may spot a common lizard basking, or an iridescent green tiger beetle on the path.
Be careful in areas of wet mire, characterised by nodding heads of cotton grass, the springy Sphagnum bog moss and cross-leaved heath.
Summertime brings a blaze of bright yellow flowers of the bog asphodel and pale purple heath orchids. Admire a patch of sundew - an insect-trapping plant.
From a pond, the croaking of mating frogs or toads may be heard in springtime. At your knee-level look for small heath butterflies and small and large skippers.
Blue post: Ascend the steps, and half way up the slope, halt at the blue post. As you take a breather, can you hear a mewing call? This may be the sound of soaring buzzards. When you reach the next slope, stop to enjoy the view towards Castlebeck Woods. Now you’ve reached the top, follow the path to the right. Having crossed over the bridge, look back to see the opposite end of the straight target trench.
Black post: As you pass the black post, look across the heather to your left. This wet area is favoured by waders including snipe and curlew. Look out for perched reed buntings and wheatear.
Having reached the hard standing used by military
vehicles, looking from the left corner, can you spot twayblade orchids in among the grass?
Follow the concrete along to the red post where you turn right back to the layby and your starting point.
[In winter, snowbunting, crossbill and continental thrushes are to be found.]
Distance: 4.3km (ie 2.48 miles). Allow two to three hours.
Refreshment: Flask Inn and Cafe, and Falcon Inn. Public toilets (nearest toilets for customers).
Wear: Suitable clothing and enclosed shoes/boots/wellies.
No dogs – sorry Tigga!
Transport: Arriva bus X93 or private transport.