Broadhead Clough offers a spectacular Pennine landscape with a dramatic past. This deep valley lies in the bottom of Bell Hole and was better known in the 18th Century for the notorious Cragg Vale Coiners than its wildlife. Within a fair distance you can experience open, windswept moors and explore the boggy mires of the valley bottom.
The most important habitat of this diverse site is the rare wet woodland bog areas.
A number of small streams flowing through the site spread out to form boggy areas known as mires, undermining tree roots and causing them to crack or the trees to fall prematurely.
Fallen wood combined with the underlying peat soils, leaves and sphagnum moss rots away to form more peat bog. There are 65 species of moss and liverwort here, which include sphagnum and star mosses, with tufts of rush and other wetland plants and fungi. This provides ideal conditions for the larvae of many invertebrates, which provides food for many charismatic birds including curlew, cuckoo, woodpeckers and finches that rely on the nature reserve for food or shelter.
This nature reserve has a variety of habitats nestled together in a wider moorland landscape. See semi-mature clough woodland, bogs, meadows and heath in one day with easy access on foot from public transport.
Managing this area is a delicate operation. Too many trees can dry out the wetter areas and can also shade out sunlight from reaching the plants beneath. Too few trees results in dead and rotting wood being removed from the food chain. Trust staff and volunteers work hard to selectively allow light to reach the woodland floor whilst maintaining moist conditions. The path network and drains are kept clear and bracken kept at bay to ensure that visitors can take in the site’s beauty without damaging the fragile mires. Following the main footpath to the moorland commons above gives a stunning view onto the mires and across the whole nature reserve down the valley.
If you like social history it is well worth arranging a visit to Coiners Barn while you are there to find out more about the Cragg Vale Coiners, and infamous gang of local criminals.
To arrange refreshments and education facilities at Coiners' Barn visit www.bellhousecoiners.com
Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife book, which has detailed information on all of Yorkshire Wildlife and Sheffield Wildlife Trust’s reserves, is available to buy now from our online shop.
Mytholmroyd has a station and regular buses from Halifax and Burnley. National Cycle Route 66 crosses the B6138: for cyclists who like a challenge this road is the longest continuous climb in England.
Take the B6138, signposted Littleborough until ½ mile from Mytholmroyd, the houses on the right give way to fields. Visitors’ vehicles are not allowed to use the track to the nature reserve and should be parked on the roadside. Immediately before the road swings lefdt and right to cross Dauber Bridge, there is a track on the right, with a public footpath sign to Frost Hole. Walk along the track for about a ¼ mile, fork left onto the concrete road until you reach the main entrance (0.6 miles from the road).
Want to see more of Broadhead Clough before your visit? Have a look below.