Kilnsey Park is run as a highly sustainable venture. The estate's lakes and fish hatcheries are fed by natural springs, created by water soaking through the limestone uplands into underground chambers. The streams then surface lower down in crystal clear mineral springs. The estate has its own hydro-electric plant harnessing the water of Sykes Beck, which provides enough electricity to meet all the site's needs, with the surplus sold to the National Grid.
Part of the estate is a water-meadow - an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), with an abundance of meadow flowers and grasses, including many orchids. The rare Lady's Slipper Orchid was once though to be extinct in Britain. In the 1930s a single plant was discovered, growing in a remote (and now secret) location in the Yorkshire Dales. Kilnsey Park is one of the places they sought to reintroduce it, in 2007, and it first flowered here in 2009. One precious specimen, amid tight security, was exhibited this year in a 'Yorkshire garden' at the Chelsea Flower Show.
The abundance of nectar sources make it natural to keep honey-bees, and there are hives and an observation hive (with glass panels behind doors) that you can open to watch the bees at work. It's fascinating. Most people are now aware of the importance of bees to our world's food supply and the dangers they face - disturbances to their habitat, the recent run of poor/peculiar weather, pests and diseases and a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder. So it's crucial that we do all we can to support our bees. Places like Kilnsey form a vital part of that work.
They also have a colony of native red squirrels, at present kept safe in enclosures. Hopefully one day the introduced grey squirrel population locally will be eradicated so that the reds can safely be released into the local area.
|NB: I did not use flash on this photo! The hive is illuminated by spotlights that reflected on the glass.|