Moorland Myths

Yorkshire’s precious wild moorlands have inspired a rich tapestry of folklore and mythology over the centuries creating artistic moorland myths to dazzle any listener.

There was a time when hobgoblins lived in every dale, giants and trolls roamed widely, dragons slept under hills and peg-o-lanterns lured travellers to a watery grave.

In modern times moorland myths of a different sort abound and trolls are to be found on social media spreading malicious lies about how our moorlands are managed and cared for.

Let’s take a look at some of the more recent moorland myths reported by story tellers.


Many Yorkshire residents and businesses have suffered terribly from of a series of devastating floods in recent years. Just look at the flooding in east Cowick reported by the BBC in February 2020.

Campaigners outside Yorkshire’s devastation have been trying to exploit the human misery caused by flooding by falsely blaming moorland managers and owners.

The truth is flooding is caused by extreme weather events and this can occur anywhere and anytime.

The rough and absorbent surface of managed moorland reduces the risk of flooding by slowing the flow of water when compared to pastureland or road and other urban surfaces.

Modern management of our local moors (usually undertaken by gamekeepers) has reduced the impact of floods downstream. In addition, further research and conservation work is taking place across Yorkshire to use the most effective techniques in the uplands to protect residents from flooding. An example of this work is the £1.5 million restoration project in Middlesmoor, Upper Nidderdale.

Read more about grouse moor management on our dedicated webpage here.

Did you know?

70% of the UK’s drinking water comes from the uplands.


The controlled and planned burning of vegetation in the uplands is an essential tool in reducing the risk of wildfires. Burning can also increase the richness of plants and wildlife on moorlands.

Campaigners are trying to get local authorities in Yorkshire to ban burning as a management option and their lobbying is based on a fundamental lack of understanding around moorland management.

Read our blog called ‘The Burning Issue’ for more information.

Research shows that the production of charcoal during managed burning benefits long term carbon storage. The ending of managed burning in the USA resulted in declines in bird life and an increase in wildfires. Read the key finding report here.

The 2018, Saddleworth Moor wildfire significantly contributed to toxic air quality. The lack of managed burning in the area was heavily criticised.

Research shows that greenhouse gas emissions from controlled burning are insignificant compared with emissions from wildfire or severely degraded lowland peatlands used for agriculture.

Did you know?

Managing heather helps preserve and protect the UK’s biggest carbon store in peat.

Birds of Prey

Yorkshire moors are enjoying record populations of birds of prey including buzzard, merlin, peregrine falcon and short-eared owl. This year is expected to be another record breeding season for the hen harrier thanks to the conservation work of moorland owners and managers.

However, campaigners are misinforming the Yorkshire press and public about the abundance of birds of prey in the uplands. And, even worse, they are using an anti-shooting narrative to deal with raptor persecution, instead of working with the shooters to stamp all criminal action out. Read BASC’s joint statement with other shooting organisations on zero tolerance for raptor persecution.

Visitors to the uplands are guaranteed to see a wide range of birds of prey soaring in the skies above them. A special treat has been the fantastic views of a rare bearded vulture which has been visiting the Peak District and Yorkshire.

Did you know?

Bird of prey numbers have boomed past 250,000 in the UK.

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