HarebellsThe meadow to the left of the footpath as you walk from the road is a trasitional hay meadow but it has not been cut or grazed for the last three years. The wild flowers are beginning to decrease and its been hard to find anyone who wanted the hay. This year (2011) we hope to have a local farmer take a hay crop once the flowers have set seed. The high price of hay after the dry spring may work in our favour.

ox eye daisysTraditionally managed flower rich hay meadows are a rich resource for wildlife, an intimate mix of grasses and herbs. They are a colourful refuge for some of our prettiest and increasingly uncommon plants. The dramatic
seasonal changes in appearance of meadows reflects the cyclical nature of farming, to many they express the soul of the English countryside. Such meadows would have been an integral part of each farm, providing
essential winter-feed for stock.

Common Spotted OrchidThe resource of hay meadows is now fragmented and flower-rich examples are becoming increasingly uncommon in the Peak District.

Nationally, it is recognised that flower-rich grasslands declined by 97 % between the 1930s and the mid1980s. The National Park AuthorityÕs Hay Meadows Project (HMP) found a 50 % loss and an additional 26 %
decline in hay meadows between the mid 1980s and mid 1990s. Follow-up survey to the project highlighted a further 25 % loss and/or decline in quality of meadows in the National Park from 1995 to 1998. The rate of
loss and decline has varied across the National Park with the greatest losses occurring in intensive dairy areas
such as Peak Forest.

Ladies BedstrawEcologically the most interesting meadows are those which are long established, each field having developed a unique assemblage of plants over a considerable period of time. Across the Peak District there are a range
of community types. The majority are neutral in character and typically support ox-eye daisy, hay rattle,meadow vetchling, common knapweed and meadow clover. A smaller number of meadows support damp meadow communities with great burnet, whilst others show affinity with acid and calcareous grasslands.

RagwortMany of the species found in flower rich meadows are confined to traditionally managed grasslands, having
exacting management and/or environmental requirements. In addition to their floristic interest hay meadows are an important habitat for birds such as the evocative skylark and it has been shown that hay meadows are an essential habitat for the nationally significant twite.

Hay meadows make a significant contribution to the landscape of the Peak District, with their dramatic change in appearance throughout the seasons. They are often a welcome contrast to surrounding agricultural, bright green silage fields. Culturally hay meadows are significant, a product of human activity
over many years. They are celebrated in folklore, customs and literature and are an outward sign of rural life that most of us have lost. The flower rich swards are part of our cultural heritage- they may be the oldest link with the past that a village has, perhaps even older than the church. The continuing loss of hay meadows can be a loss of an historical place as much as it is a wildlife habitat.
Within the White Peak Natural Area there are known concentrations of hay meadows in several parishes, for example Little Hucklow, Bonsall, Sheldon and Middleton-by-Wirksworth. Within the Dark Peak and South
West Peak Natural Areas there are clusters of hay meadows around some of the hamlets and villages, including Edale, Sparrowpit, Brandside and Grindon.

If you see any Ragwort, as in picture above, growing in the hay meadow, pull it out by the root and leave it where it won't get baled. It makes animals sick.