Parish of Swaledale with Arkengarthdale

01748 884706

Monthly Conservation Group Meetings 

A small committed group look after the various aspects of the churchyard throughout the year. 

General conservation meetings did not take place in 2020 but in previous years have undertaken the following:-

March  is usually our opening meeting of the season where we assessed what needs to be done immediately following the winter period and what can wait until later in the season.  Monthly tasks are then monitored from this spring start and will include checking trees, gravestones and the 'moat' for any clearing and cleaning works.

May continues the work as above;

June meeting - usually one for taking further stock of works done and works to complete over the summer.  this will include selected scything for areas identified and also maintaining the pathways to access all graves during the main grass growing season.

July - annual recording of the condition of the gravestones and further recording measures.

September - early fruit collecting and general ‘green gym’ works including usually some last efforts to remove the moss and ivy from the 'moat' walls.

October - foraging for fruit and cones/dried sticks for future use with the children's forest church group and/or the Christmas season.

November - mainly a planning meeting but further dead wood removal, trimming and path edging for last time during the year. Cone and stick collections usually take place.

December - Decorate the church with outdoor materials and encourage others to take away some foliage to decorate their own homes for Advent/Christmas.


Again, due to Covid in 2020 the usual bat counts didn't take place monthly but were restricted to just two or 3 occasions which were not open to the public to join in with.   On other years, these take place regularly every first Wednesday of the month during the year.  The counts in 2019 were particularly pleasing following the woodworm treatment during the March of 2019.

Bats are occasionally found on the floor during July and August and these are usually the result of an unsuccessful fledging.  Young bats are sometimes helped successfully back to their maternity roost if we are able to get to them in time before dehydration sets in.  So please do let us know if you see any bats on the church floors - they are not meant to be there!

We hope to be able to purchase a passive detector, something like an Anabat Express which could be left in the church or positioned around the churchyard to collect data over a period of time.  

In addition, visual checks on bat droppings are recorded over the winter seasons to help build a picture of all the bat activity at St Andrew’s.


We are hopeful that the one hive that was active over the summer of 2020 will be able to survive the winter. 

In previous years when we had two hives, we had a situation when one hive resorted to robbing the other hive, early in the season, to save the bother of foraging. Recommended measures were put in place to stop this, including covering with a damp sheet and stuffing the entrance with dry grass. (Apparently the bees in the hive quickly learn to circumvent these barriers but it confuses the intruders.)

On good years when we are able to extract the Honey, we are able to sell this both in church and in the village pub for the work of the conservation group.


We are working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park ‘Young Rangers’ Project Officer, to work on identifying and logging the birds and encouraging them by creating and maintaining habitats in the churchyard. We hope to grow this area of work in the future.


The planned pruning and removal work on the trees in the churchyard took place in early 2017. 9 tonnes of wood and tree material was removed, and this has opened up the churchyard to light, which has already benefitted plants, wildlife and access. Two new native fruit trees, a damson and a dwarf apple, were planted in the following Spring and are doing well in their new locations - the apple at the front of church beside the north pathway and the damson at the back south part of the churchyard near the riverside wall where there is now a light airy space to grow in.


We have designated two areas where we will aim to create good conditions for wildflowers (one for Spring, the other for early Summer species). The YDNPA Wildlife Officer has provided advice to help with these plans. A group member, has continued to record details of the flowers seen each month, so we can compare year to year changes.

Balancing Biodiversity and Access

We've agreed areas to leave “wild”, plus some wildlife corridors in sections not needed for grave access. This work is predominantly in the south or back section of the graveyard whilst the front section of the churchyard has more formal lawn cut grass areas - although these areas too are subject to non cutting in some areas to allow the spring bluebells to flourish.

Gravestones & Family History

A local group member has collated records for many of the graves (though some of the more recent ones still need to be recorded - any help much appreciated!) and these can then be added them to the churchyard map. Details of churchyard monuments, including photos and inscriptions, can be found on this website:

This work is in conjunction with the Upper Dales Family History Group


Google Group

The Conservation Group now has a Google Group for sharing information and activities.