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Limestone Country


Special Habitats

The limestone landscapes of the Westmorland Dales are extremely important for their biodiversity. The sheltered grykes in the limestone pavements support specialised and rare plants, including relict woodland species and ferns. Limestone grassland in and around the pavements is home to numerous wild flowers and insects. Some of the area’s moorland supports a herb-rich type of heath similar to chalk heaths in southern England.

Hart’s-tongue fern, herb robert and dog’s mercury growing in grykes on Little Asby Scar. © E. Pickett
Limestone grassland rich in wild flowers, such as the fragrant orchids shown here, in a photo taken in June beside a small limestone quarry near Sunbiggin Tarn. © M. Byron

At Sunbiggin Tarn, the deposition of the limy sediment in the tarn is thought to be linked to photosynthesis by green algae. The tarn forms part of a wetland area with outstanding biological interest.


Sunbiggin Tarn is fed by lime-rich springs and is part of a nationally important wetland area, with a rich and varied range of habitats and wildlife. © E. Pickett