Main Image: Looking back to Goathland from Darnholme bridge. Autumn 2021. Photo by Charlotte Baldwin.

Our lineside is 18 miles long and stretches across 170ha of land. It is brimming with natural and cultural heritage – including designated sites that are of national and European importance.

Over 11 miles of the lineside make up two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A SSSI is an area of special scientific interest due to rare species of plants or animals that live there. A site could also be a SSSI because of its geological or physiological features. Habitats within SSSIs are of national importance. As well as the two SSSIs, our lineside has a site that is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This is an area that has been given special protection in order to conserve biodiversity. Habitats within SACs are of European importance.

Newtondale – A SSSI for 9 miles owing to it being both geologically and ecologically important. Newtondale is a glacial overflow channel that was formed over 12,000 years ago when meltwater from glaciers eroded the bedrock away. It is now one of the best examples of a meltwater channel in the country. This site is also of importance due to its biodiversity and for providing a magnificent succession of habitats between the upland and lower valley regimes.

Fen Bog – Within Newtondale SSSI, lies Fen Bog. A Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve and SAC, Fen Bog is abundant in rare plant life and butterflies. The nature reserve is one of the finest examples of an upland valley mire in Britain. Several plant species occurring at Fen Bog cannot be found anywhere else in North-East England, such as the Lesser Clubmoss.

Beck Hole – An ancient woodland and SSSI, Beck Hole gives refuge to many different species, from bees and butterflies to bats and birds. The ancient woodland has developed an irreplaceable and complex ecosystem, with broadleaved woodland occupying the sides of steep ravines. Bilberry and ferns are abundant on the impressive rocky outcrops.

Outside of the designated zones, there are plenty of beautiful and peaceful spots and it is evident that the lineside acts as a green corridor, linking the mosaic of habitats together. Owing to the lineside being relatively undisturbed, the myriad of species that reside here are left to thrive. On the whole, our lineside is a very special place indeed.