Gardening: Head for the hills and discover the Peak District moors

A History of the Peak District Moors
A History of the Peak District Moors

In September, from 3rd to the 5th, we are hosting a major global conference, In The Bog, on the ecology, heritage and the history of peatlands and peat bogs. This will be a fascinating insight into a frequently misunderstood or even overlooked landscape. There will be many excellent speakers, with a good range of ‘local’ expertise. One of the experts is a name known to many readers, Professor David Hey, formerly of Sheffield University and a nationally known speaker and writer. David is regarded as an authority on many aspects of history and the landscape of the Peak District uplands is one of his passions. This is in fact the subject of his latest book, A History of the Peak District Moors, published by Pen & Sword, at £12.99.

As the book states, ‘….the moors of the Peak District provide some of the finest walking country in England. The pleasure of rambling across them is enhanced by a knowledge of their history, ranging from prehistoric times and the middle ages to their conversion for grouse-shooting and the struggle for the ‘right to roam’ in modern times.’ David’s book, which is nicely illustrated with black and white photographs and occasional maps, runs to just over 200 pages, and is packed with fascinating information. The author brings a sharp academic criticism to his work but is then able to communicate this in a way, which is highly readable, accessible and informative. The story includes the development of roads and trackways, of canals, railways and turnpikes, and the various land-uses and landowners from farmers to the great estates. The leisure and recreational uses of the moors are covered too with the development of access and rambling. Whatever your interest in the region’s uplands, there will be something here for you. With your appetite whetted, you might also want to peruse our own multi-authored volume War & Peat, from last September’s conference of the same name. Then of course, you could come along to this year’s event, which promises to be every bit as fascinating. There is much more on this on our website and I will provide further information nearer to the event. I hope that we can persuade David to bring along his books and maybe even sign copies for you.

Again known to many local people, Dr Paul Ardron will be talking about his ground-breaking research on the history of peat cutting in the Peak District. Paul too will have a major book published on the subject of his work, although that will be out some time after the conference. Other speakers will talk on aspects of peat and bogs from across the globe, and from ecology and climate issues, to hen harriers and conservation.

n Sightings: Blackcaps and chiffchaffs are back in good voice again, so I presume that these are second broods. On waterways and water-bodies, coots and moorhens are busy feeding tiny chicks, just hatched, alongside one or two broods of older siblings. There is a smattering of common crossbill records coming in so I presume these are birds breeding locally. On the moors and especially around bracken beds, stonechats have had an excellent year. Curlews are still displaying over breeding grounds, such as birds over Owler Bar recently, but there are post-breeding flocks around as well. In woods and parks, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches are noisy.

Professor Ian D Rotherham, researcher, writer and broadcaster on wildlife and environmental issues, is contactable on ; follow Ian’s Walk on the Wildside, for more information.