For Peat's Sake

Peak-based climbing and adventure photographer Keith Sharples has contacted us about some unusual conservation work he's recently encountered out on the moors.

Anyone out and about in the Peak District recently might well have noticed some rather strange activity going on. Never in the 35+ years that I've lived close by and visited the Peak do I recall seeing anything quite like it.

Digger on Burbage and Houndkirk Moor, 147 kb
Digger on Burbage and Houndkirk Moor
© Keith Sharples

I'm talking about the excavators and dozens of monster white 'lifting bags' scattered like confetti on some of the Dark Peak moors. The latest locale I've seen them is on Burbage and Houndkirk Moor just east of Burbage North. A couple of weeks back they were on Big Moor just by the Barbrook Reservoir west of Owler Bar. On occasion, you even see a helicopter buzzing about lifting the bags to a collection point.

So just what is going on? Turns out, according to the sign nailed to an adjacent fencepost, it's environmental works which is transplanting heather from the lush lowland moors (sic...) to the bleakness that is Kinder. The work, which is sponsored by United Utilities, Natural England and the National Trust, is aiming to help stabilise eroding areas up on Kinder. The idea is that the heather brash will be spread over the bare peat and will act as a mulch to allow grasses to grow. Seeds from the cut heather will help re-establish heather. Paradoxically, the donor moors will also benefit given that the diversity will be increased as young heathers grow which will benefit the wildlife; a so-called win-win.

Does the end justify the means? Well I guess that depends on you viewpoint. For sure it looks pretty odd seeing big excavators sat in the midst of the moor and hundreds of white bags everywhere, but at least we know what is going on and that there's a good cause behind it all...

Digger on Burbage and Houndkirk Moor 2, 180 kb
Digger on Burbage and Houndkirk Moor 2
© Keith Sharples

To see some of Keith's work check out his website.

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