The Common

Puffball on the floor of oak woodland

Nearby we have a common, one hundred acres of enclosed land split in two by a gritstone escarpment that runs east to west along its entire length.

In the seventeenth century oak and birch were planted to the south of the gritstone to supply the growing local population with timber for building and fuel. Today you can still see pollarded trees that produced long straight poles, perfect for the hand tool industry that had grown up in Sheffield.

North of the gritstone edge the land was enclosed for grazing and now stands as heath land with heather and silver birch. A large open space in the middle enclosed by stone walls was used for grazing of herds sheep, protected from the wind which can whip across the common by the oak woodland that surrounds it.

The common is full of flora and fauna. Greenfinch, woodpecker and warblers can all be seen amongst the seventy plus birds that frequent the area. It is rich in food for these and small mammals. In summer the common has huge quantities of bilberry amongst the heather and come autumn fungi abounds both on the heath and in the woodlands.

I find myself spending more time there, becoming more inquisitive about its history and the hand that man has played in shaping the land. One hundred acres with so much diversity and history, it is the perfect study of Dark Peak development.

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