Bransdale Moor

adder tick

Safety on Bransdale Moor

As well as being a fantastic place to visit, Bransdale has its own dangers. Here you will find some information to make your trip a safe one.

Fire Risk

Controlled fires in the autumn and spring are part of normal management to encourage young heather growth.

Uncontrolled fires, especially in the late spring to early autumn period are devastating to these dry heath areas, which are of world importance. The eroding soils and peats on Cockayne Rigg date back to a summer wildfire in the 1930s.

These moors are of international importance as the largest continuous tract of dry upland heath in the British Isles, which contain 70% of all the heather ( Ling ) areas in the World. There is often a high fire risk and you are asked to take great care at all times for the sake of the wildlife and people who depend on these moors, not to mention the many visitors who get so much pleasure from the area.

Once started, fires may smoulder in the dry peats for hours or days before really developing into a blaze so PLEASE do not light fires, use Bar -B- Qs, other picnicing appliances or smoke on the moors. At times of Extreme Fire Risk additional notices are put up and these restrictions become legal requirements.

Discarded glass can magnify the Sun's energy and start a fire - in the extreme drought year of 1976 at least three large fires were started in this way. Common sense is the best protection. Please report signs of fire immediately ( the normal controlled burning season os 01 October to 15 April ) and take care at all times.

Blanket Bogs

The moor has large areas of blanket bog. Blanket bog is difficult to see and is very dangerous.

These deep, wet peat areas on the high parts of the moor carry Sphagnum Bog Mosses and the white heads of Cotton Grass are a common sight in early summer. They have a rich insect life and a range of plant life, including the insect feeding Sundews.


The moor has a healthy population of adders. Adders are poisonous and if you or your dog are bitten you will need to seek urgent medical attention. We recomend you stick to the tracks and keep off the Heather and Bracken.

The venom is intended to kill the small prey on which Britain's only poisonous snake lives. Adders like to sunbathe in sheltered areas and are often seen in scrubby bracken and stoney ground on the moor edge.

The distinct black zig zag on the back can merge into the background on a coiled sleeping snake so be vigilant.

Sheep Ticks

The moor has a serious infestation of ticks. Ticks are extremely unpleasant and can attach themselves to you without your knowledge. Lyme Disease, Louping Ill, Tick Borne Fever and localised skin infections have all been recorded in humans, animals and birds on the North York Moors.

Lyme Disease, Louping Ill, Tick Borne Fever and localised skin infections have all been recorded in humans, animals and birds on the North York Moors.There are other bacterial, viral and protozoan caused diseases carried by the nymph and adult life stages of Tick and any tick bites should be taken seriously.

The three active life stages of ticks can all carry disease, but the tiny larvae are less of a risk than the middle stage nymphs and the larger females.

Avoidence by keeping clear of dense vegetation, wearing sensible clothing and checking for attached ticks frequently are the best ways of staying safe. Tick numbers are high in some places on the moor.