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Appleton Mill Farm 20th May 2017

led by Ellen Fairbank & Ken Hutchinson

Species lists below

Ryenats members in meadow

Not to be put off by a somewhat damp forecast, 16 members braved the occasional heavy shower to take a look around the privately owned Appleton Mill Farm that for the last five years has been managed successfully by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. We were delighted to be joined on our afternoon walk by the farm’s owner, Jonathan Allison and his wife Margaret, who, along with the Trust’s farm manager Ellen Fairbank, showed us around those parts of the estate that were of particular interest to members.

The farm is a diversified operation comprising a large herd of high quality Beef Short-Horn cattle, 90ha of grass and arable land – the latter with conservation margins – and 47ha of woodland, most of which is SSSI. The farm is covered by a detailed Environmental Stewardship Scheme – both Entry and High Level. We were told that the farm is being managed to demonstrate that conservation farming can work both environmentally and economically.

Buttercup meadow

A short walk down to the ford across the River Seven and we were treated to the sight of a dipper and grey wagtail. Retracing our steps through the farm past the old water mill building, now sadly defunct, we walked through the wood named Hell Bank Wood with its heady aroma of wild garlic to a large meadow where we were greeted by an inquisitive heard of suckler cows and their calves. After an interesting insight to this side of the operation from Ellen and Jonathan, we returned to the farm track and, after a short walk uphill passing some magnificent and well managed hedgerows along the way, we saw at first hand how the Trustís conservation brief was being fulfilled in an absolutely splendid grass bank that at this time of the year was rich in flora. An electric fence to keep the cattle off the bank during the Spring and early Summer months helps maintain the diversity of flora, with the land being opened up from mid-July to allow the cattle to control the course vegetation. The Society is most grateful to Jonathan and Ellen for allowing us to visit the farm and giving their time to show us around on what was a damp but most enjoyable afternoon.

Wild flowers

Bugle and ramsons

Unfortunately because of the wet weather I did not manage to record all the plants we saw, especially the various grasses that were not yet in full flower. Down by the river we noticed a considerable amount of the very pretty but somewhat invasive pink purslane. Along the mill-race there were both large bittercress and wood stitchwort which are both relatively scarce in Ryedale. The large meadow was a picture with bulbous buttercup and pignut the dominant flowers. The woodland has a rich and varied ground flora along with a variety of trees including some splendid old coppiced limes, and hazels that have been coppiced even on almost vertical slopes – the mind boggles as to how this was accomplished! The lane leading up to the higher meadow has very rich verges, and the meadow itself has a wonderful flowery bank (above the electric fence) dominated by primrose, cowslip and their hybrid false oxlip but also including bluebells, early purple orchids and many other wildflowers. It was a delight to see such a meadow being valued and preserved by sympathetic management; the cows looked very contented too.
Gill Smith

Species lists

Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Crow, Cuckoo, Dipper, Dunnock, Garden Warbler, Greenfinch, Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, House Martin, Jackdaw, Mallard, Pheasant, Robin, Song Thrush, Swift, Willow Warbler, Wren. (25)


Latin nameCommon name
Acer campestreField maple
Acer pseudoplatanusSycamore
Achillea millefoliumYarrow
Aegopodium podagrariaGround elder
Ajuga reptansBugle
Alchemilla xanthochloraLady's mantle
Alliaria petiolataHedge garlic or Garlic mustard
Allium ursinumRamsons
Alnus glutinosaAlder
Anemone nemorosaWood anemone
Anthoxanthum odoratumSweet vernal grass
Anthriscus sylvestrisCow parsley
Arctium minusBurdock
Athyrium filix-feminaLady fern
Bellis perennisDaisy
Betula sp.Birch
Caltha palustrisMarsh marigold
Cardamine amaraLarge bittercress
Cardamine pratensisMilkmaid, cuckoo-flower or lady's smock
Carex sylvaticaWood sedge
Centaurea nigraCommon knapweed
Cerastium fontanumCommon mouse-ear
Cirsium arvenseCreeping thistle
Claytonia sibiricaPink purslane
Conopodium majusPignut
Cornus sanguineaDogwood
Corylus avellanaHazel
Crataegus monogynaHawthorn
Cruciata laevipesCrosswort
Dactylis glomerataCocksfoot
Dryopteris dilatataCommon buckler fern
Dryopteris filix-masMale fern
Fagus sylvaticaBeech
Festuca rubraRed fescue
Fragaria vescaWild strawberry
Fraxinus excelsiorAsh
Galium aparineCleavers
Galium odoratumWoodruff
Geranium robertianumHerb Robert
Geum rivaleWater avens
Geum urbanumWood avens
Hedera helixIvy
Heracleum sphondyliumHogweed
Hyacinthoides non-scriptaBluebell
Ilex aquifoliumHolly
Lapsana communisNipplewort
Lathyrus pratensisMeadow vetchling
Lolium perennePerennial rye grass
Lonicera periclymenumHoneysuckle
Lotus corniculatusCommon birdsfoot trefoil
Luzula campestrisField woodrush
Luzula sylvaticaGreater woodrush
Malus sylvestrisCrab apple
Meconopsis cambricaWelsh poppy
Melica unifloraWood melick
Mercurialis perennisDog's mercury
Myrrhis odorataSweet cicely
Orchis masculaEarly purple orchid
Oxalis acetosellaWood sorrel
Plantago lanceolataRibwort plantain
Plantago majorRatstail plantain
Poa pratensisSmooth meadow grass
Potentilla anserinaSilverweed
Potentilla sterilisBarren strawberry
Primula verisCowslip
Primula vulgarisPrimrose
Primula ◊ polyanthaFalse oxlip
Prunus aviumWild cherry
Prunus padusBird cherry
Prunus spinosaBlackthorn
Quercus sp.Oak
Ranunculus auricomusGoldilocks
Ranunculus bulbosusBulbous buttercup
Ranunculus repensCreeping buttercup
Rosa sp.Rose
Rubus fruticosusBramble
Rubus idaeusRaspberry
Rumex obtusifoliusBroad-leaved dock
Rumex sanguineusWood dock
Sambucus nigraElder
Silene dioicaRed campion
Sorbus aucupariaRowan
Stachys officinalis = Betonica officinalisBetony
Stellaria holosteaGreater stitchwort
Stellaria mediaChickweed
Stellaria nemorumWood stitchwort
Taraxacum sp.Dandelion
Tilia cordataSmall-leaved lime
Trifolium pratenseRed clover
Trifolium repensWhite clover
Ulmus glabraWych elm
Urtica dioicaNettle
Veronica chamaedrysGermander speedwell
Veronica montanaWood speedwell
Veronica persicaCommon field speedwell
Veronica serpyllifoliaThyme-leaved speedwell
Viburnum opulusGuelder rose
Vicia sepiumBush vetch
Viola reichenbachianaEarly dog violet
Viola rivinianaDog violet


© Ryedale Natural History Society 2017, Photos © Keith Gittens, Gill Smith 2017 Back to the Home page