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Special Areas of Conservation

Moor House - Upper Teesdale

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Cumbria, Tees Valley and Durham
Centroid* NY799358
Latitude 54.71638889
Longitude -2.312222222
SAC EU Code UK0014774
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 38803.22
* This is the approximate central point of the SAC. In the case of large, linear or composite sites, this may not represent the location where a feature occurs within the SAC.
Location of Moor House - Upper Teesdale SAC

General site character

  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (1%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (50%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (5.5%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (39%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (1%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (0.5%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (2%)
  • Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (1%)

Download the Standard Data Form for this site (PDF <100kb)

Note When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • This site includes a single small hard oligo-mesotrophic waterbody, Tarn Dub, an upland pool which is impermanent in nature and situated on the slopes of Cronkley Fell. A species-poor flora includes stoneworts Chara spp. in the deeper parts, as well as shoreweed Littorella uniflora, the aquatic moss Fontinalis antipyretica and tubular water-dropwort Oenanthe fistulosa.

  • Moor House – Upper Teesdale has the most extensive area of Alpine and Boreal heaths south of Scotland and is the best southern outlier. The main sub-type is H19 Vaccinium myrtillusCladonia arbuscula heath, which occurs on an extensive plateau. Characteristically (as in the Scottish Highlands) there is an abundance of lichens, especially Cladonia species, but on this site there is also an unusual abundance of large clumps of the montane lichen Cetraria islandica. At the edge of the plateau VacciniumCladonia heath gives way below to a wind-clipped form of H12 Calluna vulgarisVaccinium myrtillus heath. which grades into taller heaths of the same community lower down the slopes. These represent alpine to boreal transitions which, in the more severe climate of the Highlands, would be represented by lichen- or bryophyte-rich prostrate Calluna heaths. Similarly, on one level summit at an altitude of 600 m, wind-clipped heather of a short but upright growth form occurs among a profusion of lichens, especially Cladonia species. This constitutes an unusual alpine/subalpine form of CallunaVaccinium heath that is very local in England.

  • This site represents Juniperus communis formations on a more acidic substrate in north-east England. It has the second most extensive area of juniper scrub in UK and the largest south of Scotland. The main area of juniper scrub grows on the igneous whin-sill, at moderately high altitude. In Upper Teesdale the juniper has developed mainly on heath and is of the W19 Juniperus communisOxalis acetosella type. There are transitions to dwarf-shrub heath, acidic grasslands and whin-sill cliffs. Small patches of juniper scrub also occur on calcareous soils, including the sugar limestone grassland for which this site is famous. Palaeo-environmental evidence indicates that juniper scrub has been present continuously since the last glacial period.

  • This site contains an example of Calaminarian grassland on lead-mine spoil associated with the Carboniferous limestone at high altitude in the Pennines of northern England. Much of the spoil is unvegetated and has a variety of particle sizes ranging from coarse rubble to fine sediment, and several steep, unstable slopes. The metallophytes spring sandwort Minuartia verna, alpine penny-cress Thlaspi caerulescens and Pyrenean scurvygrass Cochlearia pyrenaica occur along with lichens such as Cladonia rangiformis, C. chlorophaea and Coelocaulon aculeatum.

  • The summit of Cross Fell has the best-developed and most extensive area of Siliceous alpine and boreal grasslands in England. The U10 Carex bigelowiiRacomitrium lanuginosum moss-heath that covers the summit cap has a high cover of woolly fringe-moss Racomitrium lanuginosum.

  • Extensive stands of CG9 Sesleria albicansGalium sterneri grassland occur at this site in northern England. It is an important variant of this community since it contains a rich assemblage of relict arctic-alpine species, such as spring gentian Gentiana verna and alpine forget-me-not Myosotis alpestris, making Moor House – Upper Teesdale one of the most important arctic-alpine refugia in the UK. The grasslands are for the most part heavily grazed but show transitions to a wide range of other vegetation types, including 7130 Blanket bogs, acid grassland, 7230 Alkaline fens, 6520 Mountain hay meadows, 8240 Limestone pavements, cliffs and 8120 calcareous and calcshist screes of the montane to alpine levels.

  • This is one of three sites representing M26 Molinia caeruleaCrepis paludosa mire in northern England. Although less extensive and more fragmentary than at Craven Limestone Complex, stands occur in a wider range of ecological contexts, including examples within 6520 Mountain hay meadows (which are not found in other sites), as well as examples in lightly grazed pasture, on wet margins of woodland and on stream banks.

  • Moor House – Upper Teesdale comprises an area of mixed geology made up of carboniferous sandstones, mudstone and limestones. The combination of acidic and base-rich soil has given rise to an important range of vegetation types that has also been influenced by climatic conditions on this, the highest part of the Pennines. Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities occur on wet ledges in base-rich rocks, which are inaccessible to grazing livestock. One of the most extensive stands is on a tributary of Little Gill, and examples also occur at Lady Gill, Greencastle, High Cup Nick and Mickle Fell. Typical species that occur in these localities include great wood-rush Luzula sylvatica, wood crane’s-bill Geranium sylvaticum, water avens Geum rivale, lady’s-mantle Alchemilla glabra, wild angelica Angelica sylvestris and roseroot Sedum rosea.

  • Upper Teesdale contains actively-managed Mountain hay meadows at their highest altitude in the UK. Though representing a smaller proportion of the national resource than the North Pennine Dales Meadows, the meadows of this site have been managed at an extremely low level of agricultural intensification and show good conservation of habitat structure and function. There are important populations of an extensive suite of hay meadows species, including several rare species of lady’s-mantle (Alchemilla acutiloba, A. monticola and A. subcrenata) and abundant globeflower Trollius europaeus

  • 7130 Blanket bogs (* if active bog)  * Priority feature

    This site in the northern Pennines represents Blanket bogs in the north of England. The site includes the least damaged and most extensive tracts of typical M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire in England and shows this community type up to its highest altitude in England. This large expanse of peat displays the full range of features typical of the Pennines, with extensive erosion, mainly on higher areas, interspersed with large swathes of bog dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris or cottongrasses Eriophorum spp. A few areas display small-scale surface patterning, with distinct Sphagnum hollows and intervening ridges. Some parts of the site show characteristics of the western-type Scottish Blanket bogs, whereas the lichen-rich areas are a feature of bogs in Fennoscandia.

  • This is one of three sites in northern England that have extensive series of petrifying springs with tufa formation. At this site Carboniferous limestones are thinly-bedded amidst shales, sandstones and slates. Tufa springs often occur at the junction between limestone and these other, less permeable, rocks at a range of altitudes. Tufa springs are associated with calcareous glacial drift and can be found in calcareous grasslands, in fen systems of grazed pastures, associated with limestone scar cliffs and screes and amidst acid heathland and grassland. The flora is exceptionally rich and includes rare northern species such as bird’s-eye primrose Primula farinosa and Scottish asphodel Tofieldia pusilla.

  • This is one of two upland sites in northern England selected for Alkaline fens. Spring-fed flush fens of NVC type M10 Carex dioicaPinguicula vulgaris mire are widespread on the moors amidst calcareous grassland, limestone scars, heath and bog, in enclosed pastures amidst a range of acid and calcareous grasslands and in meadows, often as part of complex vegetation mosaics. The site has an exceptionally important rare plant flora associated with flush vegetation, including species such as bird’s-eye primrose Primula farinosa and Scottish asphodel Tofieldia pusilla. On the highest and coldest parts of the site fen grades into Annex I type 7240 Alpine pioneer formations of the Caricion bicoloris-atrofuscae, and intermediate examples occur.

  • This site in northern England is the largest and most diverse example of Alpine pioneer formations of the Caricion bicoloris-atrofuscae south of the Highlands. It is a southern outlier with an extensive area of the habitat type, and is a southern outpost for many of the rarer arctic-alpine plants characteristic of this habitat type, with a unique relict mountain flora. Teesdale sandwort Minuartia stricta is restricted to Upper Teesdale, and other rare species found in this habitat type include false sedge Kobresia simpliciuscula, hair sedge Carex capillaris and Scottish asphodel Tofieldia pusilla. The NVC types represented are M10 Carex dioicaPinguicula vulgaris mire and M11 Carex demissaSaxifraga aizoides mire.

  • Moor House – Upper Teesdale is representative of communities on both low and high altitude siliceous scree in northern England. Screes are extensive, with diverse plant communities. Cross Fell is a southern outlier of high-altitude gritstone scree, with a flora including rare lichens and some widespread montane vascular plants. Ferns including parsley fern Cryptogramma crispa and holly fern Polystichum lonchitis occur on extensive whin-sill screes at lower altitudes.

  • This site is representative of the communities of calcareous and calcshist screes in the north of England up to an altitude of 760 m. This site has the most extensive areas of calcareous and calcshist scree in the UK, consisting of Carboniferous limestone. Communities are diverse and there is a mix of northern and southern floristic elements, including holly-fern Polystichum lonchitis, rigid buckler-fern Dryopteris submontana, limestone fern Gymnocarpium robertianum, musk thistle Carduus nutans and mossy saxifrage Saxifraga hypnoides. Hairy stonecrop Sedum villosum occurs where scree is flushed by springs.

  • This is one of three sites representing Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation in the north of England. Crevice communities occur on extensive limestone scars, especially along the Pennine escarpment and around the summits of hills. Cliff crevice vegetation occurs extensively and to an altitude of 760 m. The most extensive community present is characterised by green spleenwort Asplenium viride and brittle bladder-fern Cystopteris fragilis. Less common species found in this community include hoary whitlowgrass Draba incana, alpine cinquefoil Potentilla crantzii and holly-fern Polystichum lonchitis. The site is also of interest for its combination of southern and northern flora. Rarer southern species include bird’s-foot sedge Carex ornithopoda and horseshoe vetch Hippocrepis comosa. The whitebeam Sorbus rupicola, which is widely distributed but found at only a few sites, is also present.

  • Moor House – Upper Teesdale, which includes the highest point of the Pennines, has a mixed geology of Carboniferous sandstones, mudstone and limestones, that have influenced the important plant communities that are found there. This cSAC is one of only a very few sites in England supporting Siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation. The most extensive occurrences of this community type are where the Whin Sill outcrops at Falcon Clints, Ravenscar, Holwick Scars and High Force. Some examples also occur at Middle Tongue and alongside Cash Burn. Characteristic species present include parsley fern Cryptogramma crispa, mountain male-fern Dryopteris oreades and northern buckler-fern D. expansa. Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi and starry saxifrage Saxifraga stellaris also occur in this community.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • 1015 Round-mouthed whorl snail Vertigo genesii

    In Upper Teesdale round-mouthed whorl snail Vertigo genesii lives amongst moss, low-growing sedges and a rich assemblage of rare and local arctic-alpine plants such as bird’s-eye primrose Primula farinosa and Scottish asphodel Tofieldia pusilla. V. genesii is found at a number of base-rich flushes around the slopes of Widdybank Fell and at isolated flushes further east on Cronkley Fell and Holwick Fell, at altitudes between 400 m and 525 m. The snail is locally abundant at some flushes and dominates the molluscan fauna at many of them.

  • 1528 Marsh saxifrage Saxifraga hirculus

    This very large site in northern England is the most important site for marsh saxifrage Saxifraga hirculus in the UK. The site consists of an extensive upland complex on limestone and gritstone, with acid grassland, blanket mire, limestone outcrops and flushes. Drainage water in many of the flushes is influenced by the underlying geology – Upper Carboniferous mudstones and shales within more extensive limestone. Approximately ten of the flush areas support populations of marsh saxifrage, including areas in the Appleby Fells, Cross Fell and Upper Teesdale, containing a total of over 270,000 plants – >90% of the UK population. In this area distributions are very patchy within flushes so that population estimates are hard to support, but individual populations in these localities can be large, with several localities supporting thriving populations of many thousands of plants. In 1999 the largest population was estimated at 153,100 individuals.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

  • Not Applicable

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