The National Trust are set to begin extensive fencing work on Kinder Scout as part of a project to restore peatland habitat across the summit plateau of the Peak District's best hill.
Previous restoration work on Kinder was undertaken in a piecemeal way, but the latest project is wider in scope and the fence is expected to remain in place for up to 15 years. Long term damage to Kinder has been caused by a combination of historical over-grazing, wildfires, air pollution from the surrounding conurbations and erosion from an estimated 100,000 walkers annually.
'Prior experience on Bleaklow and other sites in the Peak District has shown that restoration projects on this scale stand the greatest chance of success when stock is excluded from the area as this allows plants the opportunity to re-vegetate and flourish instead of being eaten by sheep before they have had the chance to establish' say the Trust in a news item on the BMC's website. '[We have] a local policy that no major vegetation restoration work can take place unless sheep are excluded due to the cost of the work and the likelihood of failure if sheep are present.'
Kinder is designated as open access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, and as the site of the famous mass trespass of 1932 the hill has an almost totemic significance in the history of public access to the countryside. The National Trust are keen to reassure hill goers that free movement will not be restricted within the enclosure.
However, they also point out that 'the nature of Kinder means that people don't just walk on the main paths, they cross the fragile peat soils to get to other parts of the plateau. This ongoing trampling continues to have an impact on the site.'
'The NT consulted with us directly from a walking and climbing point of view' explains Martin Kocsis of the BMC. 'They were very open and accommodating to all the suggestions I put forward in terms of non-hindrance for access to crags and paths. They are hyper aware of the significance of Kinder Scout in the whole area of access to the moorlands.'
In an effort to minimise its landscape impact the National Trust will place the fence at the base of the plateau along its northern and southern edges.
'The western edge is already stock proof through existing walls and fences' they say. 'The proposed fence line across the plateau on the eastern edge of Kinder is the most significant in terms of impact. Although a line can be found which should reduce the impact on the landscape, our preferred option would be to shepherd this section. The fenceline along the southern edge around Grindsbrook is on private land and being negotiated by Natural England. Existing enclosure fences on the plateau will be removed as part of this project and that process will benefit the landscape.'