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Norland Moor

Norland Moor offers a home to a variety of specialist plants and animals. It carries Local Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve designations.

North-western edge of Norland moor courtesy of J. Fernie

Norland Moor is majority owned and managed by Calderdale Council. It provides nearly 100 hectares of important heath and moorland habitat. 

Upland moors are internationally important habitats which are under considerable threat. 

The moor is held high in the affections of the local population. There is a wide variety of user groups that embrace its sense of open space, views and peace. 

Access on Norland

Norland Moor was in private ownership until 1932. The Savile family then sold most of the moor to Norland Parish Council (paid for by public subscription). It later passed to Sowerby Bridge Town Council and then in 1974 ownership passed to Calderdale MBC.

Urban common

It is registered as an urban common. This gives legal access to the moor for ‘fresh air and exercise’ for walkers.  A judgement in 1986 confirmed that the right to access extended to horse riders, too.

Car parking

  • Main car park: adjacent to recreation ground and accessible via a track from Shaw Lane (what3words/// aura.surely.things)
  • Small parking area: located off Moor Bottom Lane (what3words/// detonated.spend.camped). 
  • Layby: on Norland Road (what3words/// shape.calls.pirate).


Whilst Norland is largely a gently sloping plateau, there are steeper slopes. These are found when walking from the parking areas at Shaw Lane and Moor Bottom Lane. 

For easier foot access, enter from the north-eastern edge from Clough Road

Norland has a large number of pathways, largely unsurfaced, uneven and muddy in places. The moor can be particularly wet during heavy rain spells, with plenty of surface water. There are 28 seats and benches across the moor. These provide places to enjoy rest and the views from the north-western edge.

Cycling on the moor

Up until 2023, cycling was prohibited on Norland Moor. It was prohibited under local byelaws with the exception of exercising any lawful right of privilege. 

A survey was carried out in 2022. The survey asked if the public supported a change in legislation to permit cycling on the moor. In total, 698 survey responses were collected. The survey showed:

  • 70.8% of people supported the proposal to permit cycling on Norland Moor.
  • A further 11.2% supported the proposal with some conditions attached.
  • 17.5% were against the proposal.

For a copy of the survey report, e-mail:

In 2023, a decision was taken to grant lawful privilege for cyclists to use specific permissive routes on the moor. This was made by a Chief Officer under delegated authority as an operational matter. 

These routes are shown on the map:

The Council reserves the right to close a route if it proves to become unsuitable.

Visitor code of conduct

To keep the moor a special place we ask visitors to:

  • Respect the wildlife that lives here.
  • Pick up after your dog and keep it under control. Dogs must be on a lead during breeding bird season 1st March – 31st July.
  • Respect other visitors. Cyclists please give way if necessary and let other visitors know you are there.
  • Leave no trace of your visit; please do not create new pathways.
  • Do not use BBQ’s or light fires.
  • Take your litter home with you.
  • Take care around horses. They can be easily startled by loud noises, bikes, people or dogs getting too close to them.

Share with care (Be Nice, Say Hi)

Ecology of Norland

Norland Moor offers a home to a variety of specialist plants and animals. It carries Local Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve designations.

Norland Moor provides feeding and nesting grounds to several UK priority bird species. These include Kestrel, Skylark, and Meadow Pipit. 

It also provides a home for a surprising and rich diversity of invertebrates. These include the Green Hairstreak Butterfly and Brown Emperor moth. Three species of moth found on Norland are recorded on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These are: Latticed Heath, Tawny Speckled Pug and Anomalous. 

Find out more about the ecology of Norland: 


Condition and management

It is hard to imagine that the windswept moors surrounding Calderdale were once covered by forest. In many places the moors have a desolate feel to them and seem to be sparsely populated by wildlife. This is largely due to management. This has concentrated on grazing sheep and burning heather to promote habitat for game birds.

Widely considered a natural and wild place, Norland is a product of centuries of human state. However, Norland is slowly reverting to its ancestral state. There is a surprisingly high diversity of moth species to be found on the moor. This is probably due to the open expanses of heather moorland, and patches of upland birch woodland with an understory of moorland shrubs. This has created a favourable mix of habitats. These habitats support a significantly higher biodiversity than can be found on surrounding managed moorlands.

The emergent trees have something to do with it. A greater number of tree-feeding moth species are found at Norland, many specialising on birch. The trees also create areas of partial shade which favours the growth of dense patches of bilberry. This is a food plant for a great variety of moorland moth species.

In 2022 a baseline assessment of the moor's condition was carried out. This is used to monitor improvements in the moor's habitat over the next 30 years. 

The map below is a summary of the baseline condition of the moor in 2022.



There are a number of issues to consider in improving the moor’s habitat condition:

  • Invasive non-native species are present such as rhododendron and montbretia.
  • Unrestricted access has led to numerous secondary paths. These paths reduce the undisturbed areas where ground nesting birds would otherwise nest. 
  • Dog waste. Habitats rapidly degrade where high nutrient input is present, such as through dog mess.
  • Not wet enough. Wet heath habitats are frequently compromised through not being wet enough. This means sphagnum mosses are not at all common on the moor.
  • Lack of species diversity.
  • Tree management


Solutions to help improve the Moors condition include:

  • Removal of non-native species
  • Closure of selected secondary paths.
  • Encourage users to remove dog waste.
  • Introduce measures to re-wet the wet heath.
  • Introduce plants from vegetation on-site or attempt to propagate from off site. eg cowberry, bell heather and crowberry could be introduced in key areas. 
  • Tree control. Naturally regenerating tree cover on the moor leads to its distinctiveness and high value for invertebrates. However, there are areas where maintaining open moorland is encouraged. This helps retain a feeling openness and maintains structural diversity across the site. Here tree control will be needed.

A copy of the habitat management and condition assessment can be requested by emailing


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