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Forest of Keldy: Forest Ranger’s Watch

Welcome to Keldy, a real get-away from it all destination and part of the Cropton Forest, situated six miles north of Pickering on the southern edge of the North York Moors National Park. Here there is access to the open moorlands of the largest moorland habitat in Europe.

The main highlight of your stay at Keldy is the ability to leave the car and the hustle and bustle of urban life and live in the forest; the wilderness. Consider the drop as you descend from the Tabular Hills onto the North York Moors. Here there is a geological divide from the Upper Jurassic to the Middle Jurassic. The ground gently rises from the south and west, as the forest blends well with the surrounding landscape of fields and woodlands. To the North, the forest meets the open moorland with a more rigid and geometric boundary.

Canopy

Cropton forest (of which Keldy is part) is 366 hectares in size and is a working forest (but you will barely notice this). Paradise plantation on the blue walk is a mixture of broad-leafed and naturally seeded conifers. You will find Beech, Birch, Oak, Hawthorn, Horse Chestnut and Rowan mixed with Larch, Spruce and Scots Pine. These last three are currently grown in small plantation blocks for commercial use.

Contrasting environments follow with the deep dark floor of the Spruce and the open floor of the Larch forest. Here light permeates to the floor, as this is the autumn needle dropping conifer, allowing a more diverse ground cover dominated by bilberry. In between is the Pine forest with its sap drenched trunks and patches of moss as water gathers in small depressions.

The forestry commission manage the woodland here in a sustainable and conservation-minded way. Habitat creation and preservation are a focus of their operations. The success of this is seen through the relatively large numbers of ground dwelling creatures such as our summer visitor the Nightjar and Woodcock. The Forestry Commission also have an important role in the upland river catchment management plan called ‘Slowing the flow At Pickering’.

Flora

One of the features of Keldy is the open meadows adjacent to the site. Here the juxtapostition of acid poorly drained soils and calcareous material from the Upper Jurassic Limestone gives rise to a wondrous variety of flora. These are ‘farmed’ with conservation in mind. Those that are right next to the site are only cut for winter fodder in August and are not grazed. Until then there is a magic carpet of tall grasses and flowering plants. The highlight of which are the orchids which here live up to the name: ‘common spotted’.

Other flowering plants include the Early Purple Orchid, Birds Foot Trefoil, Red Clover, Germander Speedwell, Cow Parsley, Yellow Archangel, Silverweed, Ragged Robin, Yellow Rattle, Dames Violet, Common Forget Me Not. Moorland species such as Heather and tufted grasses spring up in the breaks between forest blocks and in the pathways created by telegraph poles carrying our electric supply. Gorse grows a long the woodland edge providing a safe wintering resting place for ladybirds.

Keldy

Fauna

The top of the attractions is the skittish Roe Deer. Only found in small groups but approached with care it can be seen grazing the woodland edge and open meadows. Or one might drift past your cabin. A sight for early risers! There is a badger hide and intermittently used sett. Foxes are occasionally seen taking advantage of the plentiful supply of rabbits, pheasants and smaller creatures. Squirrels (Grey) make use of the plentiful supply of conifer cones (and balcony feeding).

On the floor, wet summer nights abound with toads and slugs (keep your eyes open for the leopard slug), whilst on the edge of woodland frogs can be seen and heard rustling in the ground layer. Newts (Great Crested seen) may be seen moving from one water source to another. During summer, bats abound with common sightings of Pipistrelles and Noctules. Finally, in the summer don’t forget to listen for the Grasshoppers and Crickets.

Birdsong

Top of the list is our summer visitor Nightjar, arriving after the Swallows and House Martins and leaving before them. Nightjar can usually be seen and especially heard in the recently felled gaps which are left by the Forestry Commisssion. Easier to see and hear are the Woodcock who return to the same areas after spending a day on the moors.

Other birds heard and less easily seen are Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Tawny Owls and the odd sighting of a Barn Owl on the way into the site. Goldcrests have been seen by guests on the way to High Muffles. Nuthatch will frequent bird feeders but can be spotted on tree trunks along with Tree Creepers. ‘Garden birds’ such as Robin, Blackbird and several varieties of Tits, and Finches are in abundance. Thrushes, Starlings and Wrens may also be seen. Birds of prey are less easy to see in the forest but sightings of Kestrels, Goshawk, Buzzards and possibly a red Kite have been made in the neighbourhood.

Forest Floor

Trees to look for when fungi searching: Oak, Beech, Birch, Pine and Larch. All abound here so distinctive fungi collections occur with varieties and colours such as: Hedgehog, Ceps, Bolettes, Jelly fungi such as the orange Jelly Antler and Red Coral Spot, red Fly Agarics and the Sickener. Trunks have bracket fungi such as birch polypores and horse hoof fungi and along pathways Shaggy Inkcap. Come along and beat the junior ranger record of 28 types in an hour!

The Wild Wood

Join us in our wilderness. Live incommunicado with land lines only and no Wi-Fi in the cabins. You can get in touch with them but not them with you! There’s easy walking and relatively easy mountain bike trails. If you really must get into the car there are unspoilt villages such as Cropton (with its brewery). The former Victorian iron ore mining valley of Rosedale with its stunning open aspect and the high flat trail (following the former rail tracks) circling the valley rim.

Or visit traditional seaside resorts such as Scarborough or Whitby with its fishing, Dracula heritage and centre of Goth culture (best way to get there on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway).

“‘What makes Keldy for me?’ It’s the sense of wilderness and wildlife within touching distance for the cautious and careful observer. You can heighten the senses, open your ears and the eyes become clear - you know why you’re here. The light and dark of the forest plays with the rising dawn and setting sun, invigorates and stimulates yet relaxes the mind. Peace!”

Did you know?

Slugs are territorial, hermaphrodites with teeth which replace themselves like on a conveyor belt.

Did you know?

A badger can eat up to 200 worms in a night.

 Strange but true

Our signature creatures: Roe Deer, Bats and Badgers all practise delayed implantation in their breeding cycles.