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Photographer's Note

County: North Yorkshire
Site Name: Hole of Horcum
Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
Local Planning Authority: North York Moors National Park, Ryedale District Council
National Grid Reference: SE 845935
Area: 145.2 (ha) 358.8 (ac)

Description: The Hole of Horcum is a steep-sided bowl-shaped valley head containing the source of Levisham Beck. The bottom of the Hole is primarily pastureland, whilst the slopes support woodland and moorland communities.

The greater part of the site is dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris moorland in which bracken Pteridium aquilinum is abundant. Associated species include bell heather Erica cinerea, bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus, cowberry V. vitis-idaea, crowberry Empetrum nigrum and, locally, creeping willow Salix repens. Of note is the presence of bearberry Arctostaphylos uvaursi on the rim of the Hole; colonies of dwarf cornel Cornus suecica on two north-west facing slopes and the forget-me-not Myosotis stolonifera. There are small areas of wet heath dominated by cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix and purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea with mat-grass Nardus stricta and bog mosses Sphagnum spp. Flushes emanate from the latter community and are associated with streams which drain the bowl. Bryophytes, carnation sedge Carex panicea, common sedge C. nigra, jointed rush Juncus articulatus and marsh pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris are typical components.

Species-rich acid-neutral grassland occupies unimproved slopes in the pasture fields by High Horcum and those in the southwest of the site. Common bent Agrostis capillaris, sweet vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum, red fescue Festuca rubra and purple moor-grass M. caerulea predominate with a range of herbs including pignut Conopodium majus, wood anemone Anemone nemorosa, betony Stachys officinalis, cowslip Primula veris, heath bedstraw Galium saxatile and meadow vetchling Lathyrus pratensis. There are numerous common spotted orchids Dactylorhiza fuchsii, a colony of fragrant orchid Gymnadenia conopsea and the small white orchid Pseudorchis albida also occurs. Small patches of grassland within the heathland are notable for adder‘s-tongue fern Ophioglossum vulgatum and moonwort Botrychium lunaria.

Woodland is present in several places on the slopes of the Hole of Horcum. This is dominated by oak Quercus robur with rowan Sorbus aucuparia, birch Betula pendula, occasional ash Fraxinus excelsior and hazel Corylus avellana. The ground flora is acidic with Vaccinium myrtillus and wavy-hair grass Deschampsia flexuosa.

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Additional Photos by Rob Janovski (robiuk) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1702 W: 188 N: 2459] (10807)
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