Saturday, 3 December 2011

Terraforming Kinder

Kinder Scout has a reputation of being an evil, otherworldly place. Much of this reputation is deserved: navigation is difficult  in the centre of the plateau, especially in poor weather, and the constant climbing up and down the groughs is wearying. Add in the bleak, black landscape and it is easy to see why some walkers avoid it like the plague.

I have written before about my love for the place, yet for various reasons I had not climbed up onto the summit for over four years. For this reason a camping trip to Edale seemed like a good opportunity to see my old friend.

Glorious sunshine bathed the summit, and as I passed Kinder Downfall I was surprised to see a black helicopter flying to and fro with what seemed like a skip hanging underneath. Shortly afterwards a white helicopter repeatedly flew low overhead, dropping white bags of what turned out to be chopped heather over the terrain.

All this activity was part of a scheme to re-vegetate Kinder. Acid rain and other problems have devastated the delicate ecosystem on the plateau, and the lack of vegetation has led to massive erosion (*). In places the peat has been worn down to the underlying bedrock and the presence of walkers and cattle has not helped.

As far as I can work out, the scheme involves tipping lime over the ground to reduce the remaining acidity, then spreading cotton-grass seed over the area. Finally chopped heather is used to act as a binder for the ground (so-called 'brash spreading'); some of the seed will sprout. A new fence has been erected to enclose a large expanse of northwestern Kinder to prevent cattle from damaging the new vegetation.

Some interesting details of the work can be found on the National Trust website.

So far the difference is amazing. The area around The Edge trig pillar has always been a black morass (see this picture); now it is green with sprouting grass. I can only hope that the effort (at what must be massive cost) is worthwhile.

The helicopter dropping off lime 
Bags of heather suspended under a larger chopper

Terraforming The Edge. This was once a black morass.

A green and pleasant land?

(*) Other hills have suffered from a sillier problem: the EU gave grants to landowners to cut channels off the hills to increase the agricultural viability of the land. Unfortunately the increased flow caused massive erosion, and the EU is now giving landowners grants to block off those channels...

3 comments:

Darcy21 said...
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Stuart Weir said...

A similarly ugly Waun Fach in the Brecons is supposed to have once stood as high the alps, before erosion. It takes a lot to love a big lump of compost like kinder but your photos do make it look attractive.

Home Away said...
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