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Cranfield University 2021. The Soils Guide. Available: Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 07/12/2021


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Soil and site characteristics

Very shallow very acid peaty upland soils over rock often on steep slopes. Some deeper peaty-topped soils with ironpan. Thick peat on gentler slopes. Bare rock locally.


Palaeozoic slaty mudstone and siltstone

Cropping and Land Use

Stock rearing on wet moorland habitats of moderate grazing value in the uplands and mountains; recreation.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
3.11 SKIDDAW 40% Dystric Epileptic Histosols
6.51 HIRAETHOG 25% Placic Endoskeletic Histic Stagnic Albic Podzols
10.11 WINTER HILL 10% Ombric Fibric Histosols

Covers 144 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification

Shallow very acid peaty soils over rock



Detailed Description

The Skiddaw association is extensive in Cumbria, on the northern and north-western hills of the Lake District, on high land above the upper Lune Valley and on Black Combe, in the extreme south-west. It is also found in small areas in north Wales. It is generally above 450 m O.D. on moderate to steep slopes, craggy in places, underlain by Palaeozoic slaty mudstone and siltstone. The highest land is on Skiddaw at over 915 m O.D. All districts are cold, wet and exposed. Humic rankers, Skiddaw series, predominate but on gentler slopes there are ironpan stagnopodzols, Hiraethog series, and raw oligo-fibrous peat soils, Winter Hill series. The association includes areas of deeper soils of the Manod, Hafren and Hiraethog series. In hillside flushes, the Wilcocks series and occasionally the Longmoss series are found

Soil Water Regime

The shallow Skiddaw soils absorb little winter rain and in the wet climate lie waterlogged for much of the winter. Shallowness and small available water capacity make the main soils droughty in dry weather, however. Although ironpan stagnopodzols are deeper, the ironpan and other layers reduce percolation. Deep peat has formed in very wet conditions where run-off is slow.

Cropping and Land Use

The land has little agricultural value because of the shallow wet soils and rainy climate. Most is under Nardus, grazed by a few sheep, but heather is becoming dominant on the Hiraethog series. Although the vegetation is of moderate grazing value its improvement would not be economic because of remoteness, persistent wetness, which generally cannot be alleviated, and the risk of soil poaching. Some areas are used for forestry but the shallow rooting depth causes vulnerability to windthrow. Most of the land is good walking country and is included in the Snowdonia National Park.