Thursday, 8 July 2010

Access all areas

Arriving early home from work this evening gave time to visit Millington Pastures one of my favourite parts of the Yorkshire Wolds. Since the implementation of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act some parts of the countryside have been declared as "Open Access". Millington Pastures is one of the few parts of the Wolds that has been given this status - designated land is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 series maps. The status gives us all a right to wander at will through the pastures and associated valleys but a decent network of footpaths and wide roadside verges means that in my mind the need to do so is limited. The more faint-hearted may also be dissuaded by the large horned Highland Cattle that are present in the pastures year round. A large bull was making its presence felt this evening by casting it's eyes over us as we walked past.

At one end of the pastures is Millington Wood which is a local nature reserve managed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The wood is managed by coppicing and the felled timber is burnt on site in a special kiln to produce Charcoal. Many bird species are attracted there and I have often seen mentioned in bird watching reports species such as Honey Buzzards. The wood apart the main feature of the pastures is the steep sided valleys given over to rough grazing. The rough grazing allows small mammals to flourish evidenced by the Barn Owl we saw sitting on a fence post waiting to begin this evening's hunting activities. A small pond also provides a home for waterbirds as well as a valuable source of drinking water for grazing animals.

The water that feeds the ponds comes from a nearby spring. The water from the spring is collected then piped under the road and it then forms the start of Millington Beck (one of the most northerly chalk streams in the UK). The underlying chalk geology of the Yorkshire Wolds means that rainwater percolates down and through the chalk and issues from springs on the fringes of the Wolds. Nearby, Yorkshire Water have taken advantage of this natural process by collecting the water for use in their public supply system. So, the people that live  nearby when visiting the shops and buying bottled spring water might want to consider whether what comes out of the  tap is spring water anyway.

The final scene that I noted this evening was of a Highland calf. I'm sure if anyone could make a cuddly toy that matched it's features they would make a fortune.

I'll be back soon for another visit to Millington Pastures. Next time it'll be a path at the top of the valleys rather than the road at the bottom for the fantastic views over the vale of York.

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