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Addingham’s  Environment

Addingham Civic Society’s Environment Group held its first Village Environment Day on Saturday May 13th . There was a very full programme both in the Memorial Hall in the morning with displays, activities and short talks and in the afternoon with a guided environmental walk in and around the village.

It was an occasion for the newly formed Environment Group to showcase its activities over the last 12 months as well as an opportunity for other groups both within the village and within the wider region to demonstrate their environmental programmes.  The themes for the day were: “Addingham’s Natural Environment”, “Addingham and the Neighbourhood Plan”, “Responding to Climate Change” and “Celebrating Addingham’s Environment”.

The Memorial Hall was crowded throughout the morning with visitors of all ages both from the village and further afield.  It was a memorable occasion especially for children who were enthralled by the many hands-on activities on offer.  The afternoon walk was also well attended with over thirty people taking advantage of the fine weather and expert commentary to learn about the natural history of the village at first hand.

Displays by members of the Environment Group included Geology (Will Varley), , Butterflies (Diane Morris), Notable Trees (Nicky Vernon and Heather Burrow), Birds (Harry Jevons, Chris Acomb, David Austin), Solar Panels and Renewable Energy (Richard Walton and Lizzie Hebbert), a 3-D scale model of the Village (Don Porritt) and Green Spaces and the Neighbourhood Plan (Jan Hindle).  The Neighbourhood Plan display included a presentation of photographs sent in by local residents showing their favourite view of the village as well as an invitation to fill in a questionnaire survey about village Green Space.  Councillor Adrian Naylor in his welcome address emphasised the importance of the Neighbourhood Plan in guiding future developments in the village and stressed the importance of residents taking the opportunity to contribute to it to ensure environmental issues were fully represented.

Other village organisations prominently represented including the Garden Friends who highlighted their ecologically sensitive approach to flower selection especially to encourage pollinators, the Allotment and Gardens Association (Douglas McCowan and Ramon Porter) who described how allotments can be managed organically,  the Scouts (Alex Squires) who presented the results of their village litter-pick carried out on April 29th, the Primary School who displayed their award-winning project on “Up-cycling”, and Totally Locally who stressed the environmental importance of sourcing goods and services locally.

Organisations that attended from outside the Village included Wharfedale Naturalists, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, The British Trust for Ornithology, the RSPB, the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust (YDRT), Energy Saving Trust, Ilkley Real Food Market, Bradford Council, Rodley Nature Reserve and Hedgehog Emergency Rescue Bingley.  Especially fascinating was David Nesham and Jerry Knapp’s Rodley Nature Reserve’s display of live harvest mice, bred by staff for release in the reserve, and of barn owl pellets that visitors, especially children were able to dissect and view under the microscope.  The star of the show, however, was Georgina, an elderly and very sleepy rescue hedgehog brought by Stephanie Murie of Hedgehog Rescue who explained how to take care of hedgehogs in need of help.   A further display that attracted much attention from adults and children alike was Dan Turner and Charlotte Simon’s YDRT Educational River Table, a large gently sloping tray filled with fine gravel and sand with water piped in at the upper end. Visitors were encouraged to play with the sand and water to explore how modifications to flow affected patterns of soil erosion and downstream flooding.

Displays were not limited to science.  In the refreshment room adjacent to the main hall local artists Geraldine Thompson and Lisa Hinds exhibited their work focussing on painting influenced by wildlife and the natural environment and Sue Ross exhibited the work of her art group.  A powerpoint slideshow by Don Barrett illustrating changes that have taken place in the village over the last few decades attracted much attention.  There was also wildlife face painting by Natalie Munro and other activities for children, and on sale there were greetings cards based on village wildlife designed by Diane Morris, booklets of Addingham countryside walks designed by Don Barrett, Jonathan White and Will Varley (updating two of the walks originally published by Alison Armstrong in 1992) as well as second hand books.   Music wasn’t forgotten as a recording of a concert of operatic arias organised by Hilary Thomas and made in the Methodist Church the previous Saturday played in the background throughout the morning. Hilary very kindly donated the proceeds of the concert to the Environment Group.

Tea and coffee with home-made cakes were provided by Brenda Crooks and her team and refreshment tables were decorated by jars of freshly cut dandelions and forget-me-nots.

The afternoon activities centred on a guided Environment Walk from the Memorial Hall to the Daniel Palmer Nature Reserve on Silsden Road via the South Field and Marchup Ghyll.  The first stop was  Town Beck at Burnside in Main St. where Rick Battarbee pointed out the River Level recorder used by the Environment Agency to monitor streamflow and predict downstream flood risk.  He also described the problem of poor water quality caused by nutrient pollution from agricultural fertilisers and surface water runoff, the problem of culverts and weirs in impairing the passage of fish between the beck and the main river, and the need to eradicate Himalayan balsam, an invasive non-native plant species commonly seen along beck-sides in the village.

At the next stop in the field behind the Sailor Hotel and looking back toward Main St, Peter Miller pointed out former barns and mill buildings the legacy of Addingham’s agricultural and textile manufacturing past.  And in the adjacent field he described the very large Ash tree, thought to be over 200 years old, and now home to a pair of Barn Owls. This magnificent tree is protected by a TPO (Tree Preservation Order)

At the same vantage point William Varley explained that an area of disturbed ground marked the site where, in 1845, local prospectors dug a deep pit in an unsuccessful search for coal.  He explained that the Coal Measures which were exploited to support the rapid expansion of mills in Bradford are not present in Addingham where the rocks, although of the same geological period, are older and dominated by sandstones and shales.

The walk continued to the top of the field where the public footpath meets the “Hollow Lane”.  From here there is a good view of the main Village.  Richard Walton pointed out the older part of the village running along the valley bottom surrounded by newer homes, some, but not many, supporting solar panels.  Jan Hindle explained the origins of the Hollow Lane and its use in Mediaeval times as part of the route from the village centre to the large open fields used at the time for the strip cultivation of cereal crops.  Today the Hollow Lane is bounded by old hedgerows and large oak trees and has become a haven for wildlife.

From the western end of the Hollow Lane the walk headed south towards the Addingham Bypass and then west following the route of the Dales High Way along the north side of the bypass and down to Marchup Beck.  At the Beck, Ian Maxwell from the Riverfly Partnership, demonstrated how to sample invertebrate populations in the beck and pointed out the differences between different types of riverfly larvae. Heather Burrow pointed out the presence of shade tolerant plant species growing close to the beck including the Broad Buckler Fern, Bluebells and Wood Sorrel.

The walk ended at the village Nature Reserve where Wendy Palmer handed out a leaflet describing the history of the reserve from its origins as a village tip to its current status as a reserve for wildflowers and trees.  The transformation was brought about by Daniel Palmer when he was a member of the Village Parish Council.  It was accomplished by the sealing of the tip with over 20,000 tons of soil before sowing with grass and wildflower seed and tree planting.  At the Reserve Nicky Vernon showed walkers the large population of cowslips and red campion in full bloom and Diane Morris described the butterflies such as Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Orange-tip now attracted to the reserve.

Walkers were treated to tea and coffee and home-made cake at the Reserve before returning to the village via Marchup Ghyll.  There was a clear consensus that the walk had been most informative and enjoyable and that the whole day had been a major success.

The Addingham Environment Group Steering Committee would like to thank all those who attended the Environment Day especially those who helped in its organisation.

Rick Battarbee

23rd May 2017

Addingham Environment Day: May 13th 2017