Ballowfield NNR

Dales National Park

Carperby Wensleydale

Site Details:

Recorders:   Martin Bland                 Distance: 831m              Walk Time: 35mins     Altitude 250m.

This is a small grassland nature reserve area near Carperby, Wensleydale on an area of lead mining spoil. The transect then crosses Eller Beck into the Ox Close Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), designated for its assemblage of metallophytes and other plants tolerant of metal-rich soils. The site also has an important woodland component where Small-leaved Lime Tilia cordata and Large-leaved Lime Tilia platyphyllos are present along with wet flushes and limestone grassland . Eller Beck runs through an area of grassland that has built up on lead mining spoil. As a variety of different plant communities can be seen here. Metallophytes such as thrift, pyrenean scurvygrass and spring sandwort can be seen on the lead mining spoil close to the beck, meadowsweet can be seen in the wetter marshy areas and devil’s-bit scabious and Harebell can be seen in some of the drier areas.


The main meadow area runs either side of the stream S2 and S5 in particular and here Small heath, Common Blue, Small Skipper favour, while Large skipper  is largely confined to S5. Wall has been seen in small number in S6 and S7 .  Meadow Browns favour S7 Ringlets prefer the damper areas of S5 and 7 into 8 and  Speckled Wood the woodland of S9 .

Northern Borown Argus has been seen several times on S5

Results 2023

County wide 2023 results reflect the worse affects of the 2022 and  2023 spring drought with Small Tortoiseshell and peacock nearly halved against their 5 year average. Red Admiral arriving in force in July took advantage of soft nettle growth of teh rains and had their best year ever. Drought sensitive species on thin soils were badly hit,  particularly Dark -green Fritillary and Northern Brown Argus but also Ringlet, Green-viened White and Small Heath.  Less drought affected species along with the hottest June on record built even more on gains last year leading to Comma, Holly Blue and  most Browns  having a fantastic year reaching all time highs. A increase of 9% ioverall was mostly due to sheer numbers of Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers ment 2023 nearly pipped 2014 as best year in modern times.  Most noticeable was the large differeces between mositure retaining mineral soils of the valleys and thin, dry limestone or sandy soils. A large number of damp grassland, hedgerow and woodland  dominated sites benefitted hugely with 3 sites seeing more than 50% increase . A smaller number of thin, chalky, sandy or craggy sites did badly some down up to 25%.

Ballowfield has seen some changes since 2019 and Orange Tip although not having a particularly good year seem to have become well established as in the lowland.  Northern  Brown Argus seems to have rebounded and numbers were the highest since 2008. Small Tortoiseshell had a very bad year and here the worst in 15 years. Peacock although very poor in the lowland showed signs of a strong recovery in the cooler uplands and it seems to be the case here .  Small Skipper seems to had a exceptionally poor year scoring  zero for teh first time. Overall numbers were up  and compared well  with county average of about 10% and like the county mostly with Meadow Brown our commonest species. 

Transect reports 2020

Results 2019 

2021 saw only 1 walk  so data is a bit patchy  without 2018 and 2020 and it is tricky to see trends. 

2019 was a very good year as for many sites  and it was a first for Brimstone, Small white, and  Wall Brown returned.  Only Small Heath sees a downwards trend .  Green Hairstreaks have not been seen for a few years and nor have Northern Brown Argus