There was an early start to the Peak District on Friday for some work with the Heather Trust. The 6:15 train from Dumfries is something like the waiting room for the afterlife, populated by lost souls who fell once fell asleep on a train in Glasgow and then slipped between the seats when the cleaners came round. Now conscious and owl-eyed, they populate the two carriages like damned spirits, doomed to shuttle eternally between Gretna and Sanquhar.
The miserable trip was very much worth it, however, as it meant a morning spent with Geoff Eyre on his moorland near Edale. Geoff is something of a pioneer when it comes to moorland management, and although his extraordinary methods provoke a variety of reactions from conservationists and land managers, there’s no denying that he is a man who knows how to create quality moorland habitat. Turning white, uninteresting molinia grass into moorland populated by blue hares, golden plover (and even black grouse), the results of Geoff’s work are there for all to see. From my perspective, heather moorland is so much on the back foot in Britain that it’s wholly perverse to fret about methodologies. If you can turn white hills into black hills with little in the way of collateral damage, why don’t you get on with it?
The Peak District is currently the location of a new Heather Trust study into the effects of heather beetle, so while my trip was a bit of a whistle-stop tour, there will be more to come on a variety of bits and pieces relating to the area.