Arnecliff and Park Hole Woods IPA

Location: North Yorkshire, in the Glaisdale valley round the River Esk.

Grid Reference: NZ 787049

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Arnecliff & Park Hole Woods IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • One of the UK’s most important populations of Killarney fern
  • The Arnecliff and Park Hole woods are an important feature of Glaisdale valley which lies round the River Esk. At its eastern end, Arnecliff wood rises steeply on the southern bank of the river and continues to the south west along Glaisdale Beck. Park Hole Wood lies a little to the south of the river, above Butter Beck.

    The woodland community includes upland oak woodland on acidic soils, but there has been some disturbance in the past for both iron workings and woodland management. There are many rocks and small cliffs and a generally uneven topography which has allowed important ferns to survive undisturbed.

    The woodland includes upland oak woodland on acidic soils with holly, hard fern and a rich fern community. Particularly interesting is a large population of the Killarney Fern, an internationally rare species.

    Pedunculate oak, rowan and birch are widespread and abundant. Wych elm is quite frequent and there is a widespread shrub layer of hazel, some holly and occasional hawthorn. The upper, more acid areas have widespread wavy hair grass, with greater woodrush, hairy woodrush, bilberry, scattered heather, hard fern and mosses.

    Park Hole Wood is a mixed deciduous wood in a steep-sided south facing valley. Here there is a mixture of oak and birch, with some alder scattered near the beck. Hazel is widespread in the shrub layer along with holly, hawthorn and blackthorn. Below them grow hard shield fern, tufted hair grass and sedges.

    The wood contains several springs among the rocky areas which provide damp, sheltered and shaded conditions in which a rich fern and moss population thrives. This includes the locally rare species Tunbridge filmy fern and hay scented buckler fern. You may also find the regionally rare wood fescue grass here.

    Image: The River Esk at Arnecliff © deargdoom57 under CC BY 2.0