A hay meadow strewn with vibrant wildflowers is an iconic image that many people associate with the Yorkshire Dales. Sadly today only a tiny percentage of these meadows remain.
Meadows for wildlife
Visually stunning and teeming with wildlife, species-rich hay meadows are of high nature conservation and landscape value. A traditionally managed meadow can support up to 120 different species of wildflowers and other plants, as well as many species of invertebrates, bats, mammals and birds. Hay meadows are a vital habitat for bees but many species of bumblebee are in decline and some have already become extinct.
Meadows for culture
Hay meadows are also an important part of our rural and cultural heritage. A meadow is a settlement’s living link to the past and may be older than the oldest building, so the loss of a hay meadow constitutes the loss of an historical place as much as a wildlife habitat and landscape feature.
The future of our meadows
Over the last fifty years or so, some 97% of meadows in the UK have been lost, largely due to modern, intensive farming methods.
The Yorkshire Dales still have some of the best hay meadows in the UK which is why YDMT, in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, has been working hard to conserve and restore these complex ecosystems and protect the wildlife they support.
The Hay Time project initially ran from 2006 to 2011, but we secured further funding to carry on the work until October 2014. Now the project is continuing thanks to generous supporters who have donated to the Hay Time Appeal.
Visit a MeadowVisiting a meadow in full bloom is a seasonal treat for all the senses, with brightly coloured flowers, heady scents, a frothy haze of delicate grasses, and the gentle hum of industrious insects and other wildlife.The best time to visit a meadow is in June, as most of the wildflowers will be flowering by then.
We have produced a series of five walk guides incorporating some of the most exceptional meadows in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland, with options to suit all ages and abilities - you can download them here:
The Hay Time AppealWe are raising funds now to ensure that our vital work to save the few remaining species-rich hay meadows in the Yorkshire Dales can continue. You can help by donating to our Hay Time Appeal or why not dedicate a piece of beautiful wildflower meadow with a Living Bouquet gift. Your support will make a difference to the future of our precious meadows.
Hay Time publications and other items to buy from our shop:
- Packet of sustainably sourced wildflower seed
- 'Hay Time in the Yorkshire Dales' book
- Seed collection and propagation guide
- Hay meadow species guide
- DVD of “Sward! The Story of a Meadow”
- Hay Time - Analysis of Survey Data 2006-2011
- Hay Time - Final Report 2012
Hay Time publications to download: