The Howls and The Batts

The Howls and The Batts are linked woodland nature reserves managed by the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, and the Dalton Piercy Parish Council respectively. They are situated near the village of Dalton Piercy following the valley of Char Beck.

The woods are dominated by an Ash and Sycamore canopy with Hawthorn, Elder and Gooseberry. Spring flowers include Early Purple Orchids, Violets, Lesser Celandines and the locally uncommon Twayblades.

The Char Beck gives the reserve an added dimension and plants that like the damper conditions and soils thrive, including Marsh Marigolds, Meadowsweet and the foreign invader Himalayan Balsam. 53 Bird species have been recorded on the sites and the summer is a good time to see many of the summer warblers and the occasional Spotted Flycatcher.

At one time this deep wooded valley was going to be flooded to provide a reservoir, but fortunately plans were changed and its ancient woodland and wildlife have survived. It is owned by Hartlepool Water Company and has been managed by the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust since 1991.

The village is linked to Elwick, one mile to the north, by a footpath - and other public rights of way lead over the fields to Hartlepool. One of these footpaths follows the course of the Char beck which flows across the eastern end of the green into a long stretch of meadow known locally as the 'Batts'. Early in the 20th century this was once a popular picnic spot for families from Hartlepool who brought their children into the countryside at weekends and during school holidays.

The Batts by Chris Scaife

Dalton Piercy Village, Hartlepool. Grid Ref: NZ 643 316

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