Grass Wood

1 May 2005
Leader - Elizabeth Shorrock
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

Grass Wood, or Silva Garrs its ancient name, was at one time part of the Forest of Wharfedale which stretched from Bolton Abbey to Buckden, a distance of 20 miles. Prior to the early enclosure acts the wood belonged to the town of Grassington.

The wood is situated on the west- and south-facing slopes of a bench of carboniferous limestone. Throughout the wood the underlying rock outcrops are as scar, scree and pavement. This ancient wood probably had Ash, Wych Elm and Oak with an understudy of coppiced Hazel. During the 19th century the lower slopes were interplanted with Beech and Sycamore, and then in the 1960s the north-eastern remainder was replanted with Spruce, Larch, Pine and Beech. Remains of old lead mines, quarries and settlements can be found in the wood. Now Grass Wood is managed as a nature reserve by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

We entered the wood from the quarry car park just against the road, following a path that joined a main track; then we did a circular walk of the wood. All along the way we could see cleared areas and log piles, evidence of the hard work of volunteers trying to get the balance of the wood back after past mistakes.

On the path sides we saw many spring flowers - Bluebells, Wood Anemones, Violets, Ground Ivy and tiny shoots of Lily-of-the-valley as well as Goldilocks, a yellow woodland flower of the Buttercup family. We found Herb Paris, a member of the Lily family, a flower which is local in dampish woods on soils rich in lime, mostly in bud but we eventually found some in flower. It is difficult to find as it seems to like growing with other green plants such as Dog’s Mercury.

The flowers this spring were slightly late but on this warm and sunny day we saw many plants coming into flower in this wood which has had many changes but still has a rich variety to offer.

We ended our leisurely afternoon walk returning to the car park through tall Beech trees just coming into leaf, and hearing Willow Warblers, summer visitor birds, singing above on the branches.

Herb Paris

Herb Paris