Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 October 2008
The literature concerning recreational landscapes is substantial, but its contents are heavily biased towards the parks and gardens of the aristocratic and land-owning classes. Surprisingly, very little of a landscape historical nature has been published on the countrysides created and maintained for the purpose of grouse shooting, even though the areas concerned are some of the most admired and most ecologically sensitive parts of Britain. The pursuit of grouse shooting has been followed in the Yorkshire Dales for more than 250 years and the activity (in this context ‘sport’ is an emotive term) and its varied impacts upon the landscape have been conditioned by a variety of factors. Some are social, and relate to perceptions of what constitute acceptable forms of upper class recreation and association; some are technological and involve the development of firearms; some are logistical and pertain to improvements in access to the upland grouse moors, while some are ecological and concern the improvement and deterioration of the habitat and fluctuations in the grouse population. All these factors found expression in the landscape, on the grand scale, by the systematic burning, swaling or swiddening of the moors and at the local level, for example, by constructing butts in relation to topography, prevailing wind direction and the flight paths favoured by the game.