Yesterday I went over to see Moors For The Future, the partnership organisation that is transforming much of the Dark Peak through a huge project of restoration and renewal. I wanted to talk to them to get some background information about their work for the Dark Peak book and Debra Wilson the communications manager had very kindly agreed to give me some of her time and expertise.
Moors For The Future are tasked with restoring the moors from centuries of damage brought on by the industrial revolution and all that Manchester, Sheffield and elsewhere could throw at the moors. You might think that the moors are supposed to look like a giant black peat quagmire, capable of disposing of a boot and more in deep groughs that once you were in was never going to be an exercise in elegance getting out.
Over the last 13 or so years billions, the number was so big I couldn’t even work it out, mosses and grasses and plants have been spread over the peat to begin the restoration. Each year the moors can lose peat to the tune of 25mm in depth. It regenerates it at a rate of around 1-2mm per year. Thats a big discrepancy. Carry on at the rate and all that will be left will be rock. Debra told me about Soldiers Lump the trig pillar on Black Hill. The base of the pillar used to be level with the ground, now it stands several feet above the level of the peat, which is a vivid illustration of how mans activities impacts on the environment.
Walk on the moors where work has been carried out and you can already see the effects of the work. I walked around Bleaklow one night in summer and the tall grasses were an absolute joy to walk through. Yes it is getting wetter, but its also getting more interesting. Cotton Grass, cloudberries, lizards, mountain hares, Ring Ouzel, all these I have sat looked at over the last few years. There is more colour too. Not just black. Bright greens of the mosses, reds and browns of the grasses, the winter coat of the Mountain Hare, dots of vivd red of the berries.
A thought occurred to me one day on Holme Moss. I am so privileged to be around to see this enormous change in an environment. Not often do you get to see a landscape restored to its natural beauty, too often what we see is destruction.
Have a look at the Moors For The Future website via the link above and add some new knowledge to your next walk in the Dark Peak.