Upper Wharfedale Field Society
Annual Report 2022

President Laurie Prowse
General Secretary Hanneke Dye
Treasurer Ann Shaw
Speak Coordinator Wendy Berrington
Health & Safety Officer Tony Serjeant
Young Explorers Jo Prowse
Walks Secretary Philip Sugden
Librarian Peg Wright
Website Coordinator Chris Alder
Auditor Jody Kendall
Hon. Life Members Christine Bell, Freda Helm, David Turner and Phyllida Oates

Talks are normally held in the Octagon Theatre in Grassington Town Hall at 7.30pm. Non-members pay £3 entry at the door.

The Library is open from 7pm at each meeting.

Walks are held on the third Saturday of each month.

Subscriptions are £20 per year and are due from 1st September.

From the President

Laurie Prowse

It came as something of a surprise to find myself President of a Society with such a long and distinguished history. However, I saw the need for some changes and realised that, if the Society was to survive, we needed to attract some younger members and make our activities more accessible to those whose busy lives fit around work and children. Better publicity would also attract more interest in what we do

As our Archaeology group fades away, it is good to see another group rising. The Young Explorers group, under the leadership of Jo Prowse, has done some amazing work with the Upper Wharfedale schools and it led to the launch of Discovery Walks for families in the summer holidays. These walks aimed to introduce new people to the Society by taking them on short tours of Kettlewell, Grassington and Burnsall looking at nature along the way. We identified flowers, birds, and rocks, visited buildings and bridges, found fossils and skeletons. Several new members have joined the Society as a direct result of these events.

We have seen some changes in leadership this year as Christine Bell handed over the Botany group to Stella and Ian Hughes, and Marion Hutchinson stepped down as leader of the Local History and Vernacular Buildings group, which is now led by Phyllida Oates. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them both for their many years of dedicated service to the Society and hope that they will continue to be involved.

Thanks, too, to the other group leaders who continue to work tirelessly for our members. Win Clements for Ornithology, Josephine Drake with the Geology group and Philip Sugden as Walks Secretary.

Our committee members, too, have done a tremendous job: Hanneke Dye, Wendy Stevenson, Ann Shaw, Tony Serjeant and Jo Prowse and, assisting them, Peg Wright, Chris Alder, Keith Parker and all those who have helped out in various ways at our events.

Laurie Prowse

General Secretary’s Report

It is with a tinge of sadness that I present my last Secretary’s report.

I would like to remember Allan Bell who passed away this autumn. Allan stopped being a member due to health problems but he had been a very active member, served on the Committee and was even President. I remember his knowledge of dragon flies. You are missed Allan.

I have been on the Committee for about 20 years, mainly as your General Secretary, an interlude of 2 years, then as Vice President and President and back as your Secretary.  It has been a privilege to serve the Upper Wharfedale Field Society. It has played an important role in my life and I hope it will continue to do so. It is more than time that a member with better technological skills and new ideas takes over the role and enjoys it as much as I have.

Although there is still Covid around, it did not affect us being back in the Octagon for the Winter Lectures. Wendy Berrington, our Speaker Secretary, deserves thanks for the very interesting programme she has managed to put together, no mean task.

Jo Prowse, coming from a teaching background, started a new experiment, the Young Explorers Group, which has proved to be very successful benefitting the schoolchildren and their teachers, as well as bringing in new members. Well done, Jo, a great initiative.

Laurie Prowse proved to be an excellent President. He has brought the Field Society leaflet up-to-date and reinstated the Annual Report of the activities of the Society. He also organised some Discovery Walks last Summer. Another person with new ideas. Thank you.

Tony Serjeant took on the Health and Safety and Risk Assessment brief, quite a job. He may also take on the responsibility of the library as he loves books, especially first editions. Thank you, Tony.

Ann Shaw, who definitely knows how to make the sums add up, has done a great job with the Financials. Thank you, Ann.

Philip Sugden has led members to different parts of the Dales on walks of 6 – 8 miles. Members have not only enjoyed the beautiful countryside but obtained a health benefit at the same time. Well done, Philip.

Peg Wright has been an excellent Librarian displaying books relating to the particular lecture at each meeting and encouraging members to make use of this valuable resource. However, she has now decided it is time to step down. Thank you very much, Peg.

Then, there is our technical and website team, Chris Alder and Keith Parker. Chris acquired our new laptop and made it Field Society friendly, and Keith ensures that weekly reports and articles reach us each Friday. Their commitment is praised. Thank you both for being our “nerds”.

The leaders of our study groups also deserve our thanks: Christine Bell led the Botany group for many years. Many of us learned a lot about wildflowers from her experience. Thank you for all that knowledge and dedication. Stella and Ian Hughes have now taken on the Botany group.

Geology is the forte of Josephine Drake, who is well-versed in knowing the age of the different strata and also if particles are sandstone or millstone grit.  Members have enjoyed the outings gaining insight in the landscape at the same time. Thank you, Jo.

Marion Hutchinson and Phyllida Oates share the responsibility for the Local History and Vernacular Buildings group. Their knowledge of nearby villages and buildings is second to none, and they share that knowledge with those who join the outings. Thank you, ladies.

Win Clements leads the Ornithology group. There are often lovely photos of different birds shown on the Friday Reports and articles. They share their sightings from the different hides they visit detailing the number of birds they have spotted. Many thanks, Win.

Originally, I had organised a trip to Menwith Hill in 2020, but Covid and then the War in Ukraine put a spoke in the wheel. However, by keeping in touch, we were given two dates in 2022. The first group visited on the 18th October and the second group went on a tour on the 8th November.

Another cancelled event was our trip to Gloucester. However, 16 of us will now be journeying down for a three-night stay on 8th -10th May 2023.

At present the Society has 80 members, of which 4 are Honorary members: Christine Bell, Freda Helm, Phyllida Oates and David Turner.

The Annual Lunch will be on Monday 17th April at the Gamekeepers Inn.

I would like to thank all our members as without you there would not be an Upper Wharfedale Field Society. May the Society go from strength to strength!

Hanneke Dye

Treasurer’s Report 2021/2022

The accounts for the year ending 31st August 2022 completed by myself and audited by Jody Kendall showed the Society’s income for the financial year exceeded its expenditure by £945.73. On behalf of the Society’s Members, I would like to thank Jody for completing the audit.

The financial year ending 31st August 2022 reflected the Society’s willingness to operate as close to normality as possible following the dramatic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on us all. The Society’s Winter Lecture programme re-commenced in October 2021 which followed on from the re-starting of the Society’s Group activities. Government instructions and guidance continued to be followed.

Thankfully, the Society’s income recovered totalling £3,104.61. £1,660 was received in membership fees from 83 members and in addition, fees from visitors amounted to £261 and donations totalled £1,183. The latter figure included substantial receipts in memory of both Les Bloom and Sheila Ginger. The Society’s expenditure totalled £2,158.88 with highest expenditure being incurred in respect of the speakers’ honoraria (£730), rent of the Octagon (£390), insurance (£281), affiliated membership fees (£191), website costs (£130) and Young Explorers (£135).

The Society’s AGM in 2022 was once again held in the Octagon Theatre of the Town Hall Grassington.

I am pleased to report that Upper Wharfedale Field Society remains in a strong financial position. The cost of membership for 2022/2023 has remained at £20 whilst we continue to assess the impact of the Society’s increased higher costs during the financial year.

Ann Shaw


Affiliated Societies

  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
  • Ramblers
  • Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union
  • Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society

More details on Affiliated Societies can be found here


This year the Botany group numbers have increased and we have continued to provide an interest in, and enjoyment of, all aspects of flora, within eight different sites. The group has continued to develop and share botanical knowledge and understanding and to improve our identification and recording skills.

It was the first year that we have had to cancel a meeting due to extreme heat conditions!

We started the year in late April with a visit to Strid Wood. This was an excellent start to the year with fifteen members enjoying the plants heralding spring after our long cold winter.

In May we returned to one of my favourite botanical sites, Oxenber and Wharfe Woods followed at the end of May to two sites much further afield – Latterbarrow and Meathop Moss in Cumbria.

Every year people from far and wide flock to Oxenber Wood in Spring to enjoy the display of wildflowers which are breath-taking. Wood anemones, primroses, early purple orchids and bluebells are among the many plant species that contribute to the fabulous scene in May.

Grass of Parnassus

Marsh Cinquefoil

Grassington Hospital Meadow

Latterbarrow Nature Reserve on its underlying limestone and its associated lime rich soil has seven species of orchid and plants such as common meadow rue, spring cinquefoil and spring sandwort.

In June we returned to the Grassington Old Hospital Grounds and were privileged to visit a new venue in Greenhow, two privately owned SSSI fields. The hospital grounds were as beautiful as ever; yellow and white predominating, interspersed with pink melancholy thistle. Bee, Northern Marsh and Common spotted orchids dotted the fields. Twayblades and Frog Orchids were treats on Greenhow Hill.

A wonderful walk along Cray Gill through meadow, woodland and limestone stream sides got us off to a good start in July, but our second outing organised for Smardale Gill in Cumbria at the end of the very hot month was abandoned due to the unusually hot conditions forecast for that day.

Our August outings were to the Wharfe above Grassington and later in the month our final botany outing to Fewston Reservoir accompanied by fourteen keen botanists. A total of 111 species were recorded. The shoreline of the reservoir offered quite a few identification challenges and “first time” sightings for many of us.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Christine Bell, the Botany Group Co-ordinator, for her many years of dedicated service to the group. Christine has now passed these duties on to me, Stella Hughes, and I hope that under my guidance the Botany members will continue to enjoy these wonderful days out when we immerse ourselves in all things botanical.

A detailed report of each outing can be found on the Upper Wharfedale Field Society web site.

Stella Hughes

Botany Group Coordinator


This year we managed five geology Field Trips to relatively local places of interest.

Walking up Crummockdale we looked at the Craven Inliers, Silurian rocks that lie below the Great Scar Limestone, and the Norber Erratics, rocks moved uphill by the force of ice and left standing on plinths of weathered limestone. (1)

At Brimham Rocks we were given an excellent tour by National Trust Volunteer, Stephen Lewis, who was able to explain how the strange-shaped rocks had been formed. A huge, braided river system deposited sand and minerals, pressures altered this into Millstone Grit and then wind and rain weathered the rocks into their fascinating shapes. (2)

At Askrigg Mill Gill and Ballowfield we looked at some of the rocks that make up the Yoredale Series, layers of limestone sand and siltstone formed, repeated in cyclothems, later than the Great Scar Limestone. Lesley Collins was also able to show an area of landslip and later extraction of minerals. (3)

Royanne Wilding took us to Helwith Quarry where we did look at the Great Scar Limestone but lying unconformably on top of the Silurian rocks known as Horton Flags. Here they had been quarried and several features were revealed, for example a thin layer of volcanic ash or Bentonite. (4)

Our final trip of the season was to Haw Crag Quarry, Bell Busk. Now we were in the Craven Basin not on the Askrigg Block, still in the Carboniferous Period, but on the shelf slope between the raised Block and the Basin. Here an unusual layering of rocks was thought to have been the result of a slide of rocks down the slope caused by later violent earth movements.

Josephine Drake  

Geology Group Coordinator

1> Norber Erratics

2> Brimham Rocks

3> Mill Gill, Askrigg

4> Combs Hill, Helwith Bridge

5> Haw Crag Quarry

Local History and Vernacular Buildings

After a slow start due to unhelpful wintry weather, the Group gathered in volume for a walk around Threshfield on a good spring day in March. We studied the numerous buildings of vernacular interest and historic associations, from Deans’ farm, around the Green, down to Ling House once occupied by “Besum Jamie Ibbotson.”  The remains of the 16th century Old Hall and wall provided theoretic discussion before we enjoyed tea in the pub.

At a well-attended social meeting in Threshfield Institute in early May we discussed the events ahead and relative points of interest. Spare copies of associated reading material were available to take away. Also in May, we visited Conistone village with a fresh appraisal as there were new members in the Group. Marion presented a well-researched study-basis and, although there is now much modernisation, considerable historic value is evident in the village.

In June we used the community bus to spend time in Starbotton, led by Marion and Phyllida. The evidence from medieval times, from the original road below the fell, the changed course of the notorious beck, and along Back Lane is still recognisable. Starbotton’s development following the catastrophic storm of 1686 resulted in rebuilds further back from the beck. The debris from the flood did result in better drainage in the valley floor, providing more successful crops.

Continuing with local studies, and in view of new members, we re-visited Burnsall but to specifically value the 17th century grammar school and the ancient church of St. Wilfrid. Sandie knew a great deal about these properties and was therefore well versed in her presentation of them. It is always breath-taking to have tangible evidence of centuries of life, and both these properties provided that.

In glorious August sunshine we enjoyed the values of West Burton, again travelling in the community bus, organised by Pete and Peg. We had the advantage of a local historian whose knowledge and display of papers and photos, presented in the village hall, provided us with added interest when we walked from Town Head down through the village. The history of quarrying, lead mining and smelting, and ancient farming techniques enabled an industrious community life in past centuries, and the village still has many very interesting properties.

The following event, on a wet day in Long Preston in September, was very disappointingly attended, especially as Frances and Gayle had done so much comprehensive research and planned the walkabout so carefully. However, the small group was treated to a wealth of historic and structural appreciation, from the early medieval church of St. Mary’s, around three ancient greens to include ‘backs’ where earlier properties were. Some contribution from local residents was useful too, and lunch at The Maypole was excellent.

An indoor meeting at Phyllida’s house in October was a sociable collation of ideas and general contribution relevant to future pursuits. We have concentrated on vernacular buildings, from barns to grand halls, but need to focus also on social history and the progress of early family life.

Hence our November meeting studied the life and connections of the Yorke family of Nidderdale and region, and discussion of the available information was vibrant and constructive. A detailed 19th century plan of the unfortunate Gouthwaite Hall and a collection of photos added interest.

Phyllida Oates 

 Local History and Vernacular Buildings Group Coordinator


Conistone: Typical 17th century wheel-symbols on doorways to avert witches and evil spirits

The Black Bull, Wet Burton

17th Century Kirklea, Long Preston

Ornithology Report

Our first outing of the season in September was to Nosterfield. We were blessed with fine weather and this enabled us to see not only some interesting birds (Curlew, Lapwing, Greenshank, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit) but also various insects including Dragon and Damsel flies Butterflies and some interesting plants.

The October meeting was to the RSPB reserve at Marshside near Southport. Here we expected to see large numbers of winter visitors – waders and geese in particular. We totalled thirty-one species in all including big flocks of Pink-footed Geese and Black-tailed Godwits.

In November, we visited Leighton Moss and saw forty species including Marsh Harrier, Pintail, Shoveler and our much-loved Snipe.

In the New Year we had hoped to visit Rodley nature reserve but this was closed for repairs to the bridge over the canal. Perhaps we’ll be luckier in 2223.

Our next visit was to Eccup reservoir near Leeds. Ass we approached the reservoir we were thrilled to see our first summer visitor, a Chiffchaff, and also a Jay. In the trees alongside the water, we saw many small birds: Bullfinch, Redpoll, Tits, Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Above us wheeled several Red Kites. A good day’s birding despite the strong chilly wind which sent many of the water birds into cover.

To Strid Wood in April to spot some summer woodland migrants before they were hidden in leaf cover. We had good sightings of: Pied Flycatcher, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Common Sandpiper.

Our first May outing was to Staveley YWT reserve. The most unexpected sighting was of a Hobby, a migrant falcon. Other summer visitors included Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Avocet, and posing Reed Buntings. This is a lovely reserve at this time of year. As well as birds, we saw several species of Butterfly, Dragonfly and Orchids.




Our second May visit was to Barden Moor. It was disappointing not to see the usual nesting Ringed Plover.

Our first June visit was to Malham. On a perfect summer’s day, we set off along the path towards the Tarn and we had good views of lots of busy woodland birds.

At the Tarn itself we were pleased to see Redstart, which were nesting nearby. After our picnic, we set off by car to the village and saw Yellow Wagtail. At the Cove, Peregrines had bred successfully but we didn’t get any clear sightings. The usual RSPB group were not there to point us in the right direction. We did see House Martins and Jackdaws, which also nest on the Cove.

Our last visit of the season was to North Cave Wetland near Hull. Amongst the expected waders, we were thrilled to have good views of Kingfisher and Water Rail.

Let’s hope September 2022 to August 2023 proves as enjoyable.

With thanks to group leaders.

Win Clements

Ornithology Group Coordinator


Habits have been changed by Covid. Fewer people support Field Society walks and so the future of this activity is uncertain. On two walks we had only two members and others were cancelled due to lack of support. Those we did complete were:

Starting on Burnsall Green we climbed steeply crossing Hartlington Raikes road and eventually emerging onto the road near Dibbles Bridge. The return from Dibbles Bridge took a different route across the Moor to Appletreewick. The walk ended by using the riverside Dalesway path back to Grassington.

A walk with a difference, led by Keith Parker, took us for a guided walk around the lead mines at Yarnbury where he explained many of the remains and showed us the recent work carried out to make exposed shafts safer.

A walk through Wood Nook, Threshfield, past the “Giraffe House” to Bordley. The “giraffe house” is a barn, sadly like so many in a worsening state of repair, which is so called because of its unusually long windows. At the same point, the fields each have a strange narrow end. This is because we are on a fault line where limestone gives way to millstone grit and each field has to have some access to the latter in order to provide a water source for the beasts. We also saw a well-preserved lime kiln and a pothole. We descended to the hamlet of Bordley, returning via Threshfield Moor with fine views across to Grassington.

Two members walked from Pateley Bridge to Bewerley pausing to look at the historic chapel before climbing uphill to Yorkes Folly. This building, comprising of two tall, ruined structures, may be seen from much of Nidderdale. It was funded by local landowners, the Yorkes, to create work for the local unemployed. A third structure collapsed in 1893. From Yorkes Folly we continued across the moor to High Hood Gap before descending though Guisecliff Wood to Glasshouses and back to Pateley Bridge.

Given the difficulties of parking, we chose to begin our Malham walk at the Watersinks carpark near Malham Tarn. From there we walked to the Cove, crossing with care the limestone pavement across the head of the Cove. We descended the steep steps to the infant River Aire back into Malham. Lunch was taken beside Janet’s Foss, where a number of people were swimming and returned by a path close to the Cove and on to Watersinks.

A new walk, which was much appreciated by those attended, took us further from home than usual to walk a section of a recently created long distance route, the Kendal Limestone Way. We met in Kirkby Lonsdale and caught a bus to Crooklands. From there we walked by to Kirkby via the Lancaster Canal and the side of Farleton Fell. Crossing the Hutton Roof nature reserve, we had superb views of South Lakeland and Morecambe Bay as well as our own Three Peaks before descending back to Kirkby Lonsdale.

The final walk of 2022 started in Middleham where we walked up the River Cover past an impressive National Trust property, Braithwaite Hall and on to Caldberg and East Scrafton. We then turned back towards Middleham, stopping on the way to look at Coverham Church and the ruins of Coverham Abbey.

Philip Sugden

Walks Coordinator

Bare House (Barras)

March 23rd Bare House to Bycliffe Road

Reeth Circular via Fremington Edge

May 6th Hubberholme to Yockenthwaite

Young Explorers

The aim of the UWFS YOUNG EXPLORERS GROUP is to encourage, inspire and enthuse youngsters in our local area to learn about the natural environment within which they live and to develop a greater understanding of the need to protect it. The objectives include completing project work on Fungi, Flowers, Birds, Rocks, Buildings and Family History.

Successful contact has been made with the Upper Wharfedale Primary Federation and also, Threshfield Primary School. Due to the low number of pupils in each school, work is based on year groups from Kettlewell, Burnsall, Cracoe and Grassington coming together to learn and have fun in nature. So far, the group has received great support from Jo and Laurie Prowse, Christine Bell, Win Clements, Marg Smith and Phyllida Oates in working on projects including:

Learning about fungi: going on a fungi foray and using hand lenses, microscopes, a stereoscope and keys to identify samples; learning about health and safety issues involved.

Learning about trees: carrying out a playground survey and identifying examples; collecting buds, leaves, twigs, fruit and seeds associated with each tree; doing bark rubbings; learning about associated birds, insects, butterflies and fungi etc.

Learning about soil and rocks: identifying soakers and drainers, different types of rocks and how they are formed; learning about local rocks and the environment it creates.

Creating wormeries; practical sessions making a wormery and learning how to look after it and use it to create natural compost instead of using chemicals.

Learning about moths and butterflies: setting up a moth trap overnight and then returning to identify samples found.

Learning about pond life, the water environment and life forms contained within it.

Learning about local wildflowers: in the school wild garden and at the wildflower meadow at Lower Winskill; identifying examples of flowers, grasses, sedges, etc; learning about how a wildflower meadow works and how to protect the environment from damage caused by chemicals, fertilisers and pesticides.

Learning about insects: carrying out a field survey using trays and identifying examples from trees, rocks, soil, plants etc.

Learning about types of bees their lifecycle and honey production: processing the honey from the school hive from taking frames from the hive, de-capping, spinning, sieving, jarring, labelling and then selling the honey; cleaning the frames for reusing next year and processing the wax; making moulded, dipped and rolled candles and selling them.

Through the UWFS Young Explorers Group, we hope to involve the parents to support the youngsters and bring in new members who will continue and develop the activities of the Society and ensure its continuity. All support from members would be welcome. I am grateful to the Committee for supporting this venture. The project is in its infancy but from little acorns…..

Jo Prowse

Leader Young Explorers Group

This trilobite fossil was one of the several that we found in a broken down drystone wall near burnsall during our third Discovery Walk

We also visited Burnsall School which has been in use as a school since it was built in 1601.