Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations


Soil and site characteristics
Well drained very acid coarse loamy soils over sandstone with a bleached subsurface horizon. Some shallow soils with a peaty or humose surface horizon. Rocks and boulders locally.

Palaeozoic and Mesozoic sandstone
Cropping and Land Use
Dry moorland habitats of poor grazing value; coniferous woodland; recreation.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
6.31 ANGLEZARKE 60% Endoleptic Albic Podzols
3.11 REVIDGE 40% Dystric Epileptic Histosols
Covers 437 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Freely draining very acid sandy and loamy soils

Alert ! - humus podzols read the alert


Detailed Description

The Anglezarke association is found throughout the Pennines from Staffordshire to Northumberland, and on the North York Moors; also in Wales and the Forest of Dean. It is composed mainly of the Anglezarke series, humo-ferric podzols, and the Revidge series, humic rankers, over sandstones, grits and related Head. It occurs on gently to strongly sloping land but includes some steeper valley sides and craggy, irregular escarpments. These soils are confined mainly to north and east Derbyshire and north Staffordshire, where they cover about 68 kmĀ² on coarse grained sandstones and grits of Carboniferous age which fringe the limestone core of the southern Peak District. Near Glossop and north of Stoke-on-Trent, the coarse sandstones belong to the Coal Measures sequence and form prominent ridges which protrude above the surrounding drift covered terrain. Brown Edge, Wetley Rocks and Mow Cop are the most distinctive of these. Around Errwood and Fernilee reservoirs, west of Buxton, and above Charlesworth, the soils occur on outcrops of Rough Rock. The constituent soils are exclusively Anglezarke and Revidge series in all these localities. On the moorlands above the Derwent valley between Matlock and Hathersage, the Anglezarke association is much more extensive with common inclusions of other podzols such as the Maw and Belmont series. Revidge soils occur mainly alongside the boulder-strewn gritstone edges and other rock outcrops. In Wales quartzitic sandstones and grits of the basal beds of the Millstone Grit outcrop form the soil parent material.

The association is mapped in south Wales from Mynydd y Garreg near Kidwelly to the Blorenge north of Blaenavon and also in north Wales on Ruabon Mountain. The hard rocks form prominent, rugged relief rising to over 600 m O.D. on the Black Mountain. Bare rock and boulders dominate the landscape and in places the surface is deeply cratered by solution hollows and collapsed caverns in the underlying limestone. Between the bare rock and boulders the ground is peaty and the Revidge series is recognized where the peat is shallower than 30 cm over the rock. Beneath the surface boulders however there is usually the coarse textured Anglezarke series. A thin ironpan occurs in places below the humus-enriched horizon, as in the Maw series. Wilcocks series and Fordham series occur in patches of drift, usually in depressions, and there is some Crowdy series in blanket and basin peat.

In the North of England elevations range from between 75 and 450 m O.D.; most sites are exposed and, except in the North York Moors, wet. The Anglezarke series is often on north- and east-facing slopes and where drainage is rapid. The Revidge series is on steep slopes or around rock exposures. The ground is often very rocky or bouldery, and peaty topsoil becomes more common than mineral topsoil as altitude increases. Belmont and Maw series commonly occur in moorland. Where land has been reclaimed, there are Withnell and Rivington soils. The Howe series is found locally at the margins of the association, where coarse Head overlies till or mudstone; and Wilcocks or Fordham series, gleyed soils with a humose or peaty surface, occur between sandstone exposures. Raw peat soils are occasionally present in small inclusions of hill or basin peat.

Soil Water Regime

Most of the soils are at field capacity for a long period but are seldom waterlogged (Wetness Class I). There is also an excess of winter rainfall; but this is not absorbed on steep slopes due to run-off. In Wales the climate is wet and cold, annual precipitation exceeding 1,300 mm everywhere and ranging to more than 2,000 mm. The field capacity period is long and excess of winter rainwater is not readily absorbed by the peaty topsoils, so the amount of run-off is large.

Cropping and Land Use

These soils support heather moor, in which heather (Calluna vulgaris) predominates, with bell heather (Erica cinerea), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) or cowberry (V. vitis idaea) often conspicuous; it is of relatively poor grazing value. Less steep and exposed sites which are not rocky could be reclaimed for grassland, but growth on these strongly acid soils of low base status is poor and the peaty topsoils poach easily under intensive stocking. Growth is not restricted by drought, however, because the potential soil moisture deficit rarely exceeds 50 mm. In parts of Derbyshire, the heather is burnt to sustain its use as grouse moor, but elsewhere in the county and in north Staffordshire the land provides outdoor recreation for people from the nearby conurbations. Much of the land is too exposed for commercial forestry but there are several plantations of Scots and Corsican pine with some Japanese larch near Matlock. On the west side of the Goyt valley, upper slopes are covered with mixed plantations of pines and Sitka spruce while lower slopes carry older hardwoods. In Wales the land is almost entirely open moorland with a little forestry. The rocky nature of the land and the wet climate preclude reclamation and its main use is rough grazing. The vegetation is mainly heather moor, with Empetrum nigrum, but there is less Molinia than on the adjacent Wilcocks association. Where burning and grazing have removed heath species there is Nardus grassland, while wet hollows contain cotton-grass bog. These communities provide poor grazing, and frequent rock exposures reduce available grazing further so that this is among the worst land in Wales.

Much land is in forestry in Northumberland, Durham and the North York Moors, The main limitations to tree growth are stoniness and occasional cementation of the subsoil, and Kellie (1976) recommends deep cultivation. Steeply sloping land is the least productive. There is some risk of Fomes attack and slopes with northerly aspect are uneconomic. Rock exposures and boulders make planting and harvesting difficult locally. The Anglezarke series, however, generally provides sufficient rooting depth for healthy growth during a timber rotation and, as its nutrient status is often adequate, a wide range of species has been planted. Scots pine is in most forests, sometimes in a mixture with Sitka spruce and larch. It is planted in Hamsterley Forest, considered to be too high for pines, and with Corsican pine in Rothbury Forest, where lodgepole pine is preferred for the poorest sites. Norway spruce was originally planted here as the ground was considered too dry for Sitka spruce, but this is now grown successfully. Small quantities of beech, larch and Douglas fir are included for amenity reasons. Grand fir and western hemlock are capable of producing good yields.


Distribution Map

Note that the yellow shading represents a buffer to highlight the location of very small areas of the association.

Keys to component soil series


Northern Region


Typical Landscapes



Northern Region

Northern Region

All information Copyright, Cranfield University © 2024

Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2024. The Soils Guide. Available: Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 19/07/2024

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