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Site Name: Gelt Woods
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and
Countryside Act, 1981.
Local Planning Authority:
Carlisle City Council
National Grid Reference:
29.2 (ha) 72.2 (ac)
Ordnance Survey Sheet 1:50,000:
NY 55 NW
Date Notified (Under 1949 Act):
Date of Last Revision: Ð
Date Notified (Under 1981 Act):
Date of Last Revision:
The site has been modified by extension and deletion at this revision.
Reasons for Notification:
The Gelt Woods are an important example of gorge woodland, of a type peculiar to northern
Cumbria and parts of Scotland. They lie about 2 km south of Brampton where the River Gelt
has cut a rocky gorge through the New Red Sandstone and semi-natural woodland has
developed on both sides.
Where there are broader zones of semi-natural woodland extending back from the river thepredominant tree is sessile oak, with the woodland being derived from an oak/birch type.
Along the riversides the soils are wetter and more nutrient enriched and here the woodland iseither alder dominated or of an ash/wych elm type. The principal importance of the GeltWoods lies with these zones of semi-natural woodland which provide a valuable example of aonce much more widespread form of riverside woodland. In addition the damp sandstoneoutcrops along the Gelt are habitat for a range of interesting mosses and liverworts.
The main area of sessile oak wood has been modified by the planting and subsequent spread orregeneration of beech. Nonetheless this area retains a good range of the typical tree, shrub andground species of semi-natural oak-birch woodland, which is a scarce type in the east and northof Cumbria. Hairy and silver birch with rowan and holly are the main components, butoccasionally there are other planted trees such as sycamore, larch and ScotÕs pine. Much of theground flora is typified by great woodrush Luzula sylvatica
occurring with grassesDeschampsia flexuosa
, Anthoxanthum odoratum
, bracken and honeysuckle. Elsewhere there is alocal predominance of either bracken; broad buckler and male ferns; bilberry; or a mix ofYorkshire fog Holcus lanatus
, wood sorrel and pignut Conopodium majus
On the more enriched soils along the riversides the woodland is characterised by ash and wychelm although there are also smaller stretches of alder woodland in the wetter areas. Associatedtrees and shrubs include hazel, hairy birch, goat willow Salix caprea
, rowan and hawthorn,again with some planted or self-sown ÔalienÕ trees such as sycamore and ScotÕs pine. Thewoodland is not grazed and the ground flora is luxuriant with much dogÕs mercury, wood avensGeum urbanum
, herb-Robert, hedge woundwort Stachys sylvatica
, wood sorrel, sanicle andwood anemone as well as woodruff Galium odoratum
and wood melick Melica uniflora
. In thewetter, alder dominated flushes there is a good range of other herbs including common valerian,
marsh hawkÕs-beard Crepis paludosa
, water avens Geum rivale
, moschatel A d o x amoschatellina
, and both the opposite-leaved and rarer alternate-leaved golden saxifragesChrysosplenium oppositifolium
and C. alternifolium
. Ferns, mosses and liverworts are also wellrepresented in the damp riverside woodland and include the uncommon beech fern Phegopterisconnectilis
. A good number of rare and uncommon mosses and liverworts are found, mostnotably Fissidens exiguus
and Lepidozia sylvatica
The Gelt Woods are also important as habitat for associated insect and other animal groups.
The breeding bird community includes such species as pied flycatcher, redstart and woodwarbler and is unusually rich for this form of northern woodland.
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