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Seeing Red at Snaizeholme

Posted by Katy Peck on 7 May 2019
Related property: Lodge Yard, Askrigg
Seeing Red at Snaizeholme

Having already spoken about some of the beautiful walks in the Yorkshire Dales, there’s another walking route close to Lodge Yard which we thought deserved its own post – the Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail.

We’ve all heard about the worrying plight of the Red Squirrels. Once with a worldwide population of 3.5 million, today the estimated population is only around 120,000. In the UK the numbers are particularly low - the population in England is thought to be as low as 15,000, with 120,000 in Scotland and just 3,000 in Wales.

There are many reasons for this terrible decline. Predators, viruses and changes to the landscape all pose threats to our native Red Squirrel. However, the introduction of the Grey Squirrel from America in the 18th Century is the main reason behind the sharp decline.

Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve

In order to try and protect and increase the population, 17 Red Squirrel refuges have been set up in Northern England alone. In these refuges, the woodland is managed in such a way that the native squirrels are able to thrive and breed without interruption.

The Red Squirrel reserve in Snaizeholme began over 40 years ago on Mirk Pot Farm, which was bought by the Kemp family for farming Christmas Trees. As the trees began to grow, a small number of Red Squirrels also arrived, drawn in by the food and the thick forest habitat. Today the area is specifically managed for their conservation and the Red Squirrels love the coniferous woodland. However, due to the thick branches and heavy foliage, these little creatures can be very difficult to spot!

In order to allow the public to enjoy the squirrels responsibly, Mirk Pot Farm worked with the Yorkshire Dale National Park Authority to create a public viewing area on their land. Here you have an excellent chance of spotting the Red Squirrels in the wild, as they come to eat at the feeder which has been set up just for them. If you’re lucky you may also see deer, rabbits, small mammals and many birds and insects during your visit. It’s a truly remarkable experience and sure to be loved by visitors both young and old.

Reaching the viewing area

The Red Squirrel viewpoint can only be accessed by foot, protecting it and the animals from traffic and other disturbances. The walk starts in Snaizeholme, just outside the market town of Hawes and around 20 minutes’ drive from Lodge Yard. We’d recommend taking The Little White Bus, which can be prebooked to collect you from the Dales Countryside Museum and is well-worth taking advantage of as parking in the area is limited. The bus ride takes about ten minutes and drops visitors at the top of a track which leads to the start of the trail. You can also arrange a time for the driver to return to collect you!

From here, the walk to the viewpoint is around 2.5-miles, taking around 40 minutes on average to reach the viewing area from Mirk Pot. The route includes an initial steep descent down a series of steps, followed by an uneven footpath on the edge of the woodland. It passes over ground which can become very muddy, so proper footwear is required.

Once at the viewing area, take a seat, grab your binoculars and get ready to be blown away by this very special place. You’ll be surprised at how brave and curious the squirrels are – many visitors have commented on how happy they are to approach human visitors.

Once you’ve had your fill of these charming animals (which might take a while!), you can enjoy the beautiful stroll through the rest of the trail. The return route includes a steep climb up to the single-track road, so allow a minimum of 45 minutes to return to the start point from the viewing area – the gentler pace will also allow you to appreciate in the peace and quiet of this beautiful woodland.

Of course, if this encounter piques your interest in our native Red Squirrels, you can also try and spot them around our Henllys and Merlewood properties, both of which have the perfect habitats for the colourful little creatures.

To learn more about our Lodge Yard property and how you can enjoy a stay, make sure to get in touch.

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Katy Peck

Katy Peck

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