Condition of SSSI units

Compiled: 01 Aug 2014

See the SSSI glossary for an explanation of terms.

Condition of SSSI units

Team - North East - SSSI name - Bollihope, Pikestone, Eggleston And Woodland Fells - Staff member responsible for site - Amy Christie
Region

County

District

Main habitat

Staff member responsible for unit

Unit number

Unit ID

Unit area (ha)

Latest assessment date

Assessment description

Condition assessment comment

Reason for adverse condition

North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Acid grassland - upland  Amy Christie  1009693  119.88  24 Sep 2008  Favourable  This unit was acid grassland with encroaching bracken along Snowhope Burn in the western section of the unit. The sward height was variable and therefore favourable for birds.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Acid grassland - upland  Amy Christie  1009694  73.29  03 Mar 2010  Favourable  The site was assessed as acid grassland for breeding birds. There was no disturbed bare ground in this unit. There was no non-native species, no trees and scrub, no bracken and no weedy species present in this unit. Juncus effusus cover was variable with rushes on the lower ground in the northern part of the unit forming a mosaic with the acid grassland.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Acid grassland - upland  Amy Christie  1009725  260.88  12 Nov 2012  Unfavourable recovering  This unit is suffering from lack of grazing. The commoner has put no sheep on the fell during 2011 or 2012. Discussions are taking place with the Commoners Association to remedy this. It is basically 'white fell'. See photos 'Amy C's photos' in SSSI sites NB on the S drive   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  1009670  183.78  22 Dec 2009  Unfavourable recovering  The majority of this unit was dry heath still in unfavourable condition due to past grazing management. The steep slopes south of the track were being preferentially grazed by sheep and rabbits were common around the grouse butts in the western section of the unit. Grazing pressure became less in a westerly direction. The north western corner of this unit was blanket bog. The eastern end of the blanket bog, near the grouse butts, was soft rush, Erica sp., Calluna, star moss, sedge and Sphagnum sp. There was burning on the southern slopes and good recovery of previous year’s burn. An HLS agreement and associated Moorland Management Plan has now been agreed which addresses the issues on the unit, therefore it is assessed as unfavourable recovering.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  1009676  54.72  22 Dec 2009  Unfavourable recovering  The steep slopes south of the track were being preferentially grazed leading to suppression. A line of springs with associated calcareous flushes eventually drained into Bollihope Burn to the south. The southern end of the site was blanket bog with good potential for recovery if the bracken along Bollihope burn is controlled. An HLS agreement and associated Moorland Management Plan has now been agreed which addresses the issues on the unit, therefore it is assessed as unfavourable recovering.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  1009677  771.34  22 Dec 2009  Unfavourable recovering  The unit fails due to the large areas of suppressed dry heath and severely degraded blanket bog. An HLS agreement and associated Moorland Management Plan has now been agreed which addresses the issues, therefore the unit can be assessed as unfavourable recovering    
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  1009678  567.50  14 Sep 2009  Unfavourable recovering  Unit 9 is predominantly dry heath but also includes patches of very good standard (M20 as well as M19) blanket bog. (See FCT map for locations) The dry heath is in generally very good condition with moderate levels of grazing over most of the unit but with some local problems associated with foddering and shepherding. Species richness is high especialy to the east of the unit although areas of monoculture heather are more common than in the adjacent unit 30. Bracken and heather beetle problems exist but not to an amount which would significantly effect condition. Burning into steep slopes, into bracken beds and into inactive peat potentially poses a problem with condition but this is remedied as the Estate have entered a Moorland Management Plan with an agreed rotation. The areas of mires and blanet bog have been drained both recently and in the longer term. The Estate has agreed to block appropriate drains to remedy this and have agreed to take highly sensitive bogs out of the burning rotation and burn others to a less intensive regime to protect them. They have also agreed to burn very sensitively wherever active or non active peat occurs. This Moorland Management Plan is likely to allow recovery of the SSSI unit   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  10  1009679  384.31  14 Sep 2009  Unfavourable recovering  Hamsterly Common (Unit 10) is dominated by dry heath but interspersed by bogs, flushes and mires. The dry heath has some local overgrazing problems which can be remedied by inproved shepherding. They are not considered widespread enough to effect condition. Some areas of foddering can also be improved upon. Burning is intense but as the dwarf shrub has a very high growth rate a relatively high rotation is required. The estate have agreed within a Moorland Management Plan to leave areas of mature heather throughout the sward to retain structure. The Estate have also agreed not to burn down steep slopes except when heather beetle is predominant and to refrain from burning into bracken beds unless a bracken control plan which includes burning management is agreed. Because of the Moorland Management Plan the Unit can now be assessed as Unfavourable recovering. Although not an interest feature on this unit the bogs and mires have been drained in the near past. This, and the intensity of burning into the peat has been remedied as part of the Moorland Management Plan.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  11  1009680  15.96  17 Oct 2008  Unfavourable recovering  The unit was a small steeply sloping allotment with suppressed heather and acid grassland popular with birds. Wet flush was located along the stream.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  12  1009681  47.56  08 Feb 2010  Unfavourable recovering  All the condition assessment targets were met except for the presence of all phases of heather. Only the pioneer, building and mature phases were present. The allotments were a mosaic of acid grassland and dwarf shrub heath. Calluna vulgaris and Erica cinerea were abundant, Empetrum nigra was frequent and Vaccinium myrtilis was rare. Mosses were abundant under the mature heather and lichens were rare. There were no group (ii) species, no non-native species and no weedy species present. Juncus effusus was scattered throughout the Black Allotment and Pteridium aquilinum was scattered along the southern part of the Big Allotment. Heavy grazing of the grasses was evident near the gate in the western boundary wall and localised throughout the Big Allotment, predominantly by rabbits. The bare ground due to rabbits was <10% of the total feature area.    
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Acid grassland - upland  Amy Christie  14  1009696  292.86  09 Nov 2012  Unfavourable recovering  Refer to detailed comments in S drive SSSI sites NB   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  15  1009717  315.52  09 Nov 2012  Unfavourable recovering  Fails on species diversity. the heather cover is reasonable and various growth stages are present. There is evidence of under-grazing despite most quadrats containing some sheep droppings.   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  16  1009722  500.19  12 Nov 2012  Unfavourable recovering  Large areas of blanket bog in my survey area in decent condition with no obvious problems from grazing or burning in general for now, although there were a couple of instances of burning in sensitive areas. Rotation needs to be addressed to ensure burning doesn’t intensify. Late mature heather was present, probably comprising over 10% in most areas but only in small blocks. At point 21, all the way to the boundary with the plantation, cover of Juncus effusus is high. Bilberry was present more often in areas of dry heath than the survey points may suggest but was generally scattered and small. There were still a series of open grips across the moor, some more active than others (difficult to assess whether it was surface flow only after such wet conditions), which need addressing. The locations of some of these have been mapped.   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  17  1009718  103.91  09 Nov 2012  Unfavourable recovering  Largely a mix of acid grassland and bracken with some dry heath and blanket bog further up towards the east of the unit. On the western side of the road, dense bracken dominates – potential for tree planting here? The dry heath is still quite degraded with little dwarf shrub and a large amount of Juncus effusus. There was one very hot burn on the rocky slope but burning overall didn’t seem to be posing any problems. Between the road and 42, was some nice recovering blanket bog with crowberry, bilberry, Erio vag & ang, Tric, Sphags and Calluna. Several sections of vehicle damage were found on deep peat (see photos), often in wettest areas rather than along an entire route.   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Bogs - upland  Amy Christie  18  1009723  134.18  09 Nov 2012  Unfavourable recovering  See CA on S drive SSSIsites NB. All BB quadrats passed, with increased sphagnum present. DH quadrats generally failed on species diversity but had variable heather height and no evidence of overgrazing or excessive burning.   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  19  1009719  47.10  09 Nov 2012  Unfavourable recovering  Much better heather and bilberry growth with a mix of heather stages. No evidence of overgrazing. 2 patches where burning had occurred around rocky areas but otherwise limited burns.   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  20  1009682  56.41  26 Mar 2008  Unfavourable recovering  HLS agreement signed to commence on 1st February 2008   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  21  1009683  47.04  09 Oct 2013  Unfavourable recovering  Livestock grazing levels are good. Some localised problems with rabbit grazing - topiaried heather. Some burning in sensitive areas, such as across watercourse and across hummocky Sphagnum beds. Good age range of heather, including plenty of mature heather stands. Marginal fail on indicator species cover.    
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  22  1009684  289.08  19 Feb 2010  Unfavourable recovering  The unit was predominantly heath with a few areas of acid grassland and two small areas of bracken on the steep banks of Blackton Beck. The heath was species poor, dominated by Calluna vulgaris and failed the condition assessment target due to the low frequency of positive indicator species. Only one of the sample points had at least 2 positive indicator species (Calluna vulgaris and Erica cinerea). All phases of heather growth were present except the degenerate stage, with 20% in the late mature phase. Sphagnum sp. was present in the wetter areas of the unit and Nardus stricta was frequent in the grassy areas. Pleurocarpous mosses were abundant and non-crustose lichens were rare. There were no non-native species, no trees or scrub and no weedy species present. Juncus effusus was scattered on the lower ground around Blackton Head. It was locally 5 to 15% cover but overall it was <10%. A small area on Blaeberry Bank was heavily grazed by rabbits.    
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  23  1009685  189.70  12 Nov 2012  Unfavourable recovering  See photos on S drive, SSSI sites NB. Blanket bog areas favourable but with numerous active grips. ?work with Peatlands to do blocking. Most dry heath areas are still failing on species diversity but the grazing and burning appear to be better controlled/   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  24  1009686  141.96  06 Mar 2009  Unfavourable recovering  Good diversity of structure of stages growth of heather plants, with a good proportion mature / degenerate phase. Several nice areas of species rich wet heath, and flushy mires on the lower slopes of the allotment. There are several large areas of blanket bog which lacks species diversity, however an HLS agreement is in place to continue to manage the allotment without stock and burning rotations have been agreed therefore the condition is still assessed as unfavourable recovering.   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  26  1009687  38.92  29 Oct 2009  Unfavourable recovering  The previous entry was CSM compliant   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  27  1009688  104.79  20 Jul 2010  Unfavourable recovering  The grazing levels appear to be sustainable for this unit, with very few signs of browsing. The burning also seems appropriate with a reasonable diversity of age structures and no signs of hot burns, or burning into the sensitive areas. The unit does fail on the species diversity target, with Calluna being the dominant indicator species, present in all but one sample point. There was very little other dwarf shrub observed, however cotton grasses were present in half of the sample points, therefore there is potential for the diversity of the site to improve given the low grazing pressure and burning management. Rushes were present in a quarter of the sample points, and though they mainly occur in the areas of natural flush, there are some dense stands where some management could be beneficial in the future. Overall the unit can still be considered to be in unfavourable recovering condition.    
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  28  1009689  106.48  20 Jul 2010  Unfavourable recovering  A road bisects this unit. To the north of the road, dry upland heath dominates, with large patches of bracken on the slopes and rush in the hollows. To the south of the road, the land forms a wide but steep-sided gully. Extensive patches of bracken are frequent on the slopes, with large areas of rush, and a small amount of wet heath on the gully floor. Dry heath predominates on the plateau area south of the road. Burning on the dry heath interest feature is frequent, especially to the north, closer to the road. There is no burning in sensitive areas; burns are re-generating well. There is a good range of heather growth stages present, including late-mature heather across approximately 10% of the unit. Dwarf shrubs dominate the upland heath, mainly heather, with small amounts of bilberry. Common cotton grass is also frequent. The unit is unfavourable in that just 20% of quadrats have >3 positive species at >50% cover. Also, bracken and rush occur at >10% at 40% of quadrats. Grazing is at an acceptable level. The current management is positive in terms of burning and grazing. Increased dwarf shrub diversity may be expected to result.    
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  29  1009690  94.36  20 Jul 2010  Unfavourable recovering  Grazing and burning management appear satisfactory here. Grazing targets were generally met and there were no signs of burning in sensitive areas or damage to peat. The unit fails to meet the species diversity targets with Calluna often being the only positive indicator species observed. Erica tetralix and/or Vaccinium myrtillus did occurr at a third of the dwarf shrub heath sample points and were quite well distributed across the unit. It is therefore thought that prospects for meeting these targets in the future are good, provided that the current positive management practices remain in place. The cover over of dwarf shrub species was generally quite good (meeting the 50% target) in the areas previously recorded as dwarf shrub heath, however dense areas of soft rush and bracken still occur as mapped in the FCT. Unit remains in unfavourable recovering condition.    
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  30  1009691  1163.81  14 Sep 2009  Unfavourable recovering  Dry heath is extremely diverse within this unit resembling the community of H10 (with Erica cinerea common). There are few grazing problems except locally on the edges of the commons or close to fodder sites. Growth rates of dwarf shrub are high so the burning is consequently at a high rotation, areas of tall heather however are common. Burning at the edges of bracken beds, on slopes and into the peat layer were the main problems encountered, much of this undertaken in an attempt to stem heather beetle problems. The relatively small amounts of blanket bog and wet heath have been drained (comparitively recently) and some burning into the sphagnum and peat layers have occurred. All these issues are remedied because a Moorland Management Plan is now consented. This addresses all the unfavourable issues with respect to burning and will aim to block drains where it is agreed it is appropriate to do so.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Acid grassland - upland  Amy Christie  31  1030188  176.02  24 Oct 2008  Favourable  The unit was a mosaic of acid grassland, dry dwarf shrub heath and blanket bog. On the eastern boundary were small patches of bracken, white ground and lenses of blanket bog. There were large areas of suppressed heather on blanket bog at the western end of the unit and a smaller area in the north eastern corner of the unit. There was a better structure to the vegetation and higher diversity in the experimental exclosure (NY 95494 35060).   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Bogs - upland  Amy Christie  32  1030189  118.33  22 Dec 2009  Unfavourable recovering  The majority of the unit was hagged blanket bog. Wet heath was present on the shallower peat at the western end of the unit. There was moderate grazing pressure in this unit. An HLS agreement and associated Moorland Management Plan has now been agreed which addresses the issues on the unit, therefore it can be assessed as unfavourable recovering.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Acid grassland - upland  Amy Christie  33  1030190  374.10  24 Oct 2008  Favourable  The majority of the unit was acid grassland with large areas of rush around Harnisha Gill and around the mine workings north of Rod Brae. There was a small area of degraded blanket bog in the south eastern corner.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Dwarf shrub heath - upland  Amy Christie  34  1030191  606.65  22 Dec 2009  Unfavourable recovering  The grip blocking in the western end of this unit is wetting up. The re-profiling of the grip-sides has significantly reduced the water flowing into the main gullies. Peat is likely to slip into the deep gullies which will re-establish and stabilise them. The grips at the eastern end were still active. The top of the catchment was hagged. Between Bollihope grains and Todd Carrs grazing suppression was significant. Between Todd Carrs and East Grains were good haggs and bog pools with good species diversity and lower grazing pressure. Some hotter burns around East Grains have damaged the sides of the hags and resulted in erosion and bog degradation to dry heath. East of East Grains was heavily eroded with burning into the peat layer. Rabbits have increased the erosion problem. Rabbits were also a problem west of the track at the north eastern end of the unit with 50-75% shoot removal. There was a wet flush along both sides of Wester Todd Sike. An HLS agreement and associated Moorland Management Plan has now been agreed which addresses the issues on the unit, therefore the unit can now be assessed as unfavourable recovering.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Acid grassland - upland  Amy Christie  35  1030192  191.77  02 Oct 2008  Favourable  Wet flushes along the burns. Between the streams was acid grassland with suppressed heather. There was a small area of bracken around Dodd Hill. The sward height was variable and therefore favourable for bird populations.   
North East  Durham  Wear Valley  Bogs - upland  Amy Christie  36  1030193  98.87  22 Dec 2009  Unfavourable recovering  Unit 36 comprises 4 areas of blanket bog. The 3 smaller areas west of the road were fairly species poor degraded bogs with wet flush along Brackbridge Sike. The larger area east of the road was species poor due to grazing pressure. An HLS agreement and associated Moorland Management Plan has now been agreed which addresses these issues, therefore the unit can be assessed as unfavourable recovering.   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Acid grassland - upland  Amy Christie  37  1030209  239.71  11 Mar 2010  Favourable  There was no “thatch” or “felt” in any of the stops, no disturbed bare ground and no invasive weedy species in this unit. The cover of Juncus effusus was local with only one stop >20% cover. Bracken was locally abundant with >10% cover at two stops. Forbes were not abundant. There were small conifer trees scattered throughout the unit. Lapwings were seen in this unit. The sward height was variable and therefore the suitability of the habitat for birds in the unit is therefore favourable.   
North East  Durham  Teesdale  Bogs - upland  Amy Christie  38  1030195  36.13  20 Jul 2010  Unfavourable recovering  The unit passes all of the assessment criteria for blanket bog in terms of grazing, burning, drainage etc, apart from the species diversity. Cotton grasses were present in most of the sample points; however there were only a few points where dwarf shrub such as heather and crowberry were present, sphagnum spp. also did not occur in every sample. Most points had 4+ species, however only one had 6 or more. The unit is within a CSS scheme which has included stock removal and some reseeding work, therefore the potential is there for the diversity of the habitat to improve therefore the unit can still be classed as unfavourable recovering.    
Report completed.