We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to our Benshaw Moor appeal earlier in 2019. Thanks to you, we have been able to purchase this amazing piece of land, rich in wildlife, to be protected into the future as an NWT reserve.
Wildlife rich, Benshaw Moor lies in the Rede Valley, near Elsdon and features a wide range of nationally important habitats including blanket bog, grassland and heathland.
It’s all big skies and magnificent vistas; a feeling you are in the presence of powerful forces and real wildness. There are babbling burns, sprouting springs and even a limestone stepped waterfall. The abundance of plants and animals is stunning. This is home to inquisitive otters, fleeting dragonflies and secretive adders seeking sunny hangouts to bask.
Species-rich springs are some of the best in the county.County Recorder for plants for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
Curlews, skylark and meadow pipit are known to nest here and you can even catch a daytime glimpse of the yellow-eyed, short-eared owl as it hunts over the moorland. There are rare butterflies such as the small pearl-bordered fritillary and large heath. And what a paradise for botanists – lots of plants with characterful names such as bogbean, butterwort, limestone bedstraw and grass of Parnassus! The bogs nurture their own specialists such as cranberry, sphagnum mosses and round-leaved sundew. This is such a complex and varied mosaic of habitats that supports mammals, birds, reptiles and insects in abundance.
Bigger, better, more joined up – connecting landscapes so wildlife can move freely
Benshaw Moor is just off the A696, in the Redesdale Valley and falls within the Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership area (a £2.8m project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund), where Northumberland Wildlife Trust is already working alongside Natural England, Northumberland National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and 12 other partners. Benshaw also lies close to Harwood Forest and Wallington where red squirrel conservation is a priority. And of course, it links across to Kielder where NWT has worked for over 40 years restore the border mires and is now creating a new upland woodland at Kielderhead and re-introducing water voles to Kielder.
This whole area has the potential to be a spectacular example of a ‘Living Landscape’, a large-scale network of connected land where wildlife can move freely, adapt and thrive.
Traditionally, sites like these have suffered from:
- afforestation, where large areas of non-native trees have been planted and harvested commercially, diminishing the variety of wildlife
- agricultural drainage, where bogs have been drained, causing soil erosion and increasing the risk of moorland fires and flooding downstream
- peat extraction, resulting in loss of carbon storage, contributing to global warming
- illegal practices associated with some grouse moor management have devastated birds of prey numbers
- wind turbines, which here, would cause damage to peatland and disrupt the hydrology through the construction of road infrastructure and turbine foundations
We won’t let that happen here.
The purchase follows a month long appeal in April 2019 which raised over £75,000 and which was added to a considerable amount of money from charitable trusts, businesses, private donations and a bequest by the late George Swan, emeritus professor of organic chemistry at Newcastle University. The bequest was specified for use in buying a site of botanical importance. We are very moved by how much people appreciate the value of Benshaw Moor as a vital area of bog and moorland; it clearly holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many people in Northumberland and beyond.
But our work has only just begun and we still need more funds to help manage the site for wildlife
Please donate today to help us manage this land – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to save a place with such a wonderful variety of plants and animals. Please give what you can and together we can protect and enhance a very unique part of Northumberland at Benshaw Moor.