National Character Area 45

Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands - Key Facts & Data

Landscape and nature conservation designations section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

There are no National Parks or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within this NCA (Natural England, 2011).

Designated nature conservation sites

The NCA includes the following statutory nature conservation designations (Natural England, Special Protection Areas; Special Area of Conservation; Ramsars; National Nature Reserves; Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserves, 2021):

Please note: (i) Designated areas may overlap (ii) all figures are cut to Mean High Water Line, designations that span coastal/marine areas below this line will not be included.

Condition of designated sites
All designated sites within England are covered by Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) units. The condition to these SSSI units within the NCA are as follows (Natural England, Sites of Special Scientific Interest Units, 2021):



Landscape and nature conservation designations map for NCA45

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Landform, geology and soils section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Elevation

The lowest elevation is 0.2m below sea level and the highest point is 77m. The mean elevation across the NCA is 29m (Natural England, 2010).

Landform and process

The most distinctive topographical feature of the area is the western scarp slope locally known as the ‘Cliff’. This linear feature is pronounced along much of its length (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description).

Bedrock geology

The solid geology of the Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands is composed almost entirely of the middle Jurassic Lincolnshire Limestone. The Frodingham Ironstone forms the secondary scarp around Scunthorpe (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description).

Superficial deposits

Most of the area has been overlaid by glacial deposits of boulder clays, windblown sand and fluvio-glacial sands and gravels (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description).

Designated geological sites

The NCA includes the following geological sites (Natural England, Geological and Mixed Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 2021):

wdt_IDNCA_IDNAMENCAAreaHaInterest typeArea (ha) 2021Percent of NCA (2021)Count
2361NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAIN37,669.6Geological6.80.01
2371NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAIN37,669.6Mixed1,029.52.75
2382NORTHUMBERLAND SANDSTONE HILLS72,694.6Geological45.40.14
2393CHEVIOT FRINGE51,591.3Geological17.10.02
2404CHEVIOTS36,487.9Geological165.00.52
2414CHEVIOTS36,487.9Mixed3,488.99.61
2425BORDER MOORS AND FORESTS127,155.9Geological85.70.18
2435BORDER MOORS AND FORESTS127,155.9Mixed35.80.01
2446SOLWAY BASIN98,350.4Geological7.20.02
2456SOLWAY BASIN98,350.4Mixed5,569.25.74

Soils and Agriculture Classification

Soils on the higher ground are shallow, well-drained and brashy loams, devoid of surface streams. To the east and north the soils include some clay with associated poorer drainage. The Coversands which lie over much of the northern part of the Edge are predominantly windblown deposits. They produce light soils supporting a contrasting flora (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description, Lincolnshire Coversands and Clay Vales Natural Area Profile).

The main grades of agricultural land in the NCA are broken down as follows (as a proportion of total land area) (Natural England, Provisional Agricultural Land Classification, 2019):


Landform, geology and soils map for NCA45

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Key waterbodies and catchments section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Major rivers/canals

The following major rivers/canals (by length) have been identified in this NCA (Natural England, data informing the 2014 National Character Area Profiles, 2010):

wdt_IDREF_CODENAME_1NameLength (km)SumOfShape_Length
11NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINRiver Aln7.67,587.2
21NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINRiver Coquet5.55,516.0
31NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND COASTAL PLAINWhiteadder Water2.92,904.9
410NORTH PENNINESBlack Burn11.911,853.4
510NORTH PENNINESCroglin Water10.010,042.3
610NORTH PENNINESCrowdundle Beck4.34,337.4
710NORTH PENNINESDevil's Water20.520,464.6
810NORTH PENNINESHarwood Beck9.79,740.2
910NORTH PENNINESRiver Allen4.94,889.0
1010NORTH PENNINESRiver Derwent15.315,268.4

Please note: other significant rivers (by volume) may also occur. Tidal stretches of rivers are not included, which may include some major rivers.

The Old River Ancholme drains the northern half of the NCA into the Humber. The River Eau drains the southern half of the NCA into the River Witham, and ultimately to the Nowh.

Water quality

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) are areas designated as being at risk from agricultural nitrate pollution. These can impact surface water (waterbodies and waterways located above ground) and groundwater (water bodies and waterways located below ground).

Waterbodies such as lakes can also be designated as “eutrophic waters” if the enrichment of the waterbody by nitrate pollution causes accelerated growth of algae, impacting the quality of the water and the balance of organisms within it.

The following NVZs are located within the NCA (Environment Agency, Nitrate Vulnerable Zones Designations, 2021):

Water framework directive

River basin management plans cover river basin districts and describe the challenges that threaten the water environment and how these challenges can be managed and funded. The plans include the classification of water quality of surface waters and ground waters.



Click on the Water Framework Directive layers on the below map to view the corresponding river names.

Key waterbodies and catchments map for NCA45

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Trees and woodlands section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Total woodland cover

Ancient woodland is any area that has been wooded continuously since at least 1600 AD. National Forest Inventory (NFI) woodland includes all forests and woodlands (0.5 hectares and over). The total woodland cover within the NCA is as follows (Natural England, Ancient Woodland, 2021; Forestry Commission, National Forest Inventory, 2020):

Distribution and size of woodland and trees in the landscape

The Coversands were extensively planted with conifers between the First and Second World Wars. Birch and oak are regenerating naturally to add to the mix. A few pockets of ancient semi-natural woodland can be found at Broughton (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description).

Woodland types

A statistical breakdown of the area and type of woodland found across the NCA is detailed below (Forestry Commission, National Forest Inventory, 2020):

Area and proportion of ancient woodland and planted ancient woodland sites (PAWS) within the NCA (Natural England, Ancient Woodland, 2021):


Trees and woodlands map for NCA45

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Boundary features and patterns

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Boundary features

In the drier central uplands are arable areas. Where present, hedgerows are clipped and gappy. Shelter belts, typically of beech and sycamore, often line roads, tracks and broad verges (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Field patterns

Fields are typically rectilinear with gappy, clipped hedgerows and occasional rubble limestone walls (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Agriculture section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

The following tables provide the most recently available statistics from Defra on agriculture within the NCA.

Farm type

The following farm types are located within this NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Farm size

The following table outlines the sizes of farms within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Farm ownership

The following table outlines the ownership of farms within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Land use

The following table outlines the types of agricultural land use within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2016):

Livestock numbers

The following livestock are farmed within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Farm labour

The following table outlines the types of farm labour within the NCA (Defra, Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June, 2021):

Please note: (i) Some of the Census data are estimated by Defra so may not present a precise assessment of agriculture within this area (ii) Data refers to commercial holdings only (iii) Data includes land outside of the NCA where it belongs to holdings whose centre point is recorded as being within the NCA.



Note that the below map only shows agri-environment scheme coverage, and not other schemes.

Agriculture map for NCA45

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Key habitats and species section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Habitat distribution/coverage

Some of Britain’s finest inland sand dunes can be found on the Coversands. Nationally rare and important species include woodlark and grayling butterfly. Coversand heathlands comprise a mosaic of lowland heathland, often with a high proportion of lichens and some heather, with pockets of mire and wet heath, areas of lowland dry acid grassland and sand dune habitats. These heathlands are close in type to those of the Brecks, and several areas are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Elsewhere small pockets of calcareous grassland occur where the limestone outcrops from the Coversands or is close to the surface. There is very little ancient woodland, but oak-birch woodland has established on some parts of the Coversands. Broughton Alder Wood lies in a shallow valley which is fed by springs from adjacent pastures and forestry plantations. Open water habitats have been created from restored ironstone and sand workings (North Lincolnshire Coversands and Clay Vales Natural Area Profile).

Key Habitats

The NCA contains the following areas of key main habitats, as mapped by the national Priority Habitat Inventory (Natural England, Priority Habitats Inventory, 2021):






Key habitats and species map for NCA45

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Settlement and development patterns section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Settlement patterns

The pattern of settlement is dispersed to the perimeter but almost non-existent on the central elevated higher ground. The old city of Lincoln includes castle, city walls, churches and fine town houses. These buildings cluster around the cathedral. Scunthorpe, the other large settlement of the area, grew rapidly in the 19th century following the establishment of iron and steel works. The expanding town absorbed five villages and is now characterised by post-Second World War housing and industrial estates (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Main settlements

The main settlements in Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands NCA are Lincoln, Scunthorpe, Gainsborough, Broughton, Winterton, and Scarsby. The total estimated population for this NCA (derived from ONS 2001 Census data) is 157,465 (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Local vernacular and building materials

To the foot of the western scarp a line of small villages built in traditional honey coloured limestone, warm brick and pantiles cluster by the springs. In Lincoln, to the south of the railway station, settlement is dominated by red-brick terraces dating from the city’s growth as an engineering centre (Northern Lincolnshire Edge with Coversands/Southern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description, Countryside Quality Counts, 2003).

Settlement and development patterns map for NCA45

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Key historic sites and features section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Origin of historic features

A clear line of visible archaeological evidence is present along the Edge. The Romans made a very visible impact on the landscape; Lincoln Now the key settlement at the junction of Ermine Street and the Fosse Way. A number of deserted medieval villages like Gainsthorpe are testimony to subsequent change during the medieval period when farming developed to the perimeter of the Edge. The landscape around Scunthorpe Now dramatically altered by the mining of ironstone from the 1870s. The growth of the iron and steel industry had a significant impact on the natural landscape (Draft Historic Profile, Countryside Quality Counts, Northern Lincolnshire Edge Countryside Character Area Description).

Designated historic assets

The NCA includes the following designated historic assets (Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 2021):

Listed buildings

The NCA includes the following listed buildings (Historic England, National Heritage List for England, 2021):

Heritage at Risk Register

The NCA includes the following designated historic assets listed within the Heritage at Risk Register (Historic England, Heritage at Risk Register, 2023):



Key historic sites and features map for NCA45

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Recreation and access section contains a map

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated. The maps contain live frequently updated datasets.

Public access

The following areas of public access for recreation are located within this NCA (Natural England, 2021; National Trust, 2021):


Please note: Public access areas may overlap.
The following linear routes or public access for recreation are located within this NCA (Natural England, 2021; Sustrans; 2021):

Recreation and access map for NCA45

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Experiential qualities

Note that numbers and figures in the body of the text are based on the 2014 profiles, unless otherwise stated.

Tranquillity

Based on the CPRE map of tranquillity (2006) the highest scores for tranquillity are to the south-east and north of the NCA in very rural areas. The lowest scores for tranquillity are around the settlements, such as Lincoln and Gainsborough

A breakdown of tranquillity values for this NCA are detailed in the table below (CPRE, Tranquillity Map, 2006):

Dark skies

Light pollution is a generic term referring to artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed, and can impact on people’s experience of the countryside within the NCAs. CPRE host an interactive map, depicting the light pollution and dark skies within the NCA.

Intrusion

The 2007 Intrusion Map (CPRE) shows the extent to which rural landscapes are ‘intruded on’ from urban development, noise (primarily traffic noise), and other sources of visual and auditory intrusion. This shows that, particularly around Lincoln, areas are increasingly disturbed, whereas the more rural areas and villages experience less intrusion.

A breakdown of intrusion values for this NCA is detailed in the table below (CPRE, Intrusion Map, 2007):

Notable trends from the 1960s to 2007 were an increase in the area of disturbed land by 25 per cent, matched by a decrease in the areas of undisturbed land by 29 per cent. The levels of urban land increased slightly by 4 per cent.