Welcome to the Eastern Moors blog site. In recent months this has been updated so that wardens, volunteers and supporters can now write blogs, submit photographs and comment on Eastern Moors topics. Please click on an appropriate tab above to get involved. If you are unsure how to post a picture, article or comment then please look at the Users Guide or email us.

Monday 12 November 2018

Europarcs 2018 – inspiring the next generation

By Merryn Matthews

As a youth ranger for the Eastern Moors I was fortunate to be able to attend the 2018 Europarcs conference in the Cairngorms from 18th-21st September this year, and meet with people living and working in national parks all over Europe. The theme was ‘Inspired by the Next Generation’ encouraging all of us under 30 to share ideas, perspectives and for everyone to listen, learn and act to improve parks for the future.

Inspiring speeches filled of hope for the future of the parks welcomed hundreds of delegates to the Aviemore conference hall. Talks from the likes of the great author Richard Louv explored how the issues of being an increasingly technological society increase our need for nature.  We need the balance. It is more important now than ever to help to conserve and share the amazing beautiful landscapes we have and he believes this will be a youth lead movement. Hendrikus van Hensbergen, another amazing speaker, talked of his mission to bring more young people in touch with nature through his foundation Action for Conservation. There were many more speakers from people’s personal stories to open panel discussions with on how to ‘engage with millennials’.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority, who hosted the conference, really knew how to put on a good Scottish performance!

Being a youth ranger has really showed me personally the benefits and enjoyment of being in nature and having the opportunity to get hands on and feel like I’m helping nature. I can really see the importance of giving more young people from all backgrounds this chance to make a difference and spend time being in nature, so it’s great to see these schemes being setup. Get yourself or anyone else young and old involved in our protected areas, checking out the Eastern Moors events page is a great start!

Wednesday saw us all attend a variety of workshops from interpretation to sustainable tourism. I had fantastic fun learning bushcraft and the skill of safe fire making, which can hopefully be passed on to excite others. In an incredibly short space of time the youth workshop managed to brainstorm some great ideas to help with rural problems, such as transport and few job opportunities with high living costs, by creating community apps and supportive schemes. It was great to see the power that people coming to work together can have and I hope these ideas and connections are taken forward.  

We also attended fieldtrips to experience the wonderful Cairngorms and learn how they are managing and maintaining the park for the future.  Wildlife watching in Glencoe was a great experience; red squirrels, reindeers and rare fungi were some of the cool things I saw. Around 25% of Britain’s rare and endangered species live in the national park, so there was also evidence of pine martins, golden eagles and other birds such as crested tits and capercaillie. Others went canoeing and mountain climbing, amongst other things. I had a great day learning about the importance to maintain these areas and open spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Conference delegates had the opportunity to attend a variety of field trips around the Cairngorms National Park, learning about the management of this incredible landscape

The trips brought up important issues such as the balance between land management and rewilding. Many parks across Europe are utilising different ideas and initiatives including native tree planting, introducing new species to create better habitats or simply leaving nature alone, depending on the usage and community. Other national parks also had a variety of different schemes to engage the community in the parks directly with conservation work and for young ambassadors to have more responsibilities with showing the public the park. The week ended with the revealing of a youth manifesto created by the meeting and hard work of young people all over Europe. This manifesto can be found in and aims to start improving the national parks as areas for young people to experience, live and work in by providing suggestions for the decision makers in national parks.

Thank you to Eastern Moors for this wonderful experience and I really recommend this event in the future, even if just for the incredible multi-course buffet food!

Monday 29 October 2018

Curbar Primary class 2 'blown away' by deer rut visit

Continuing their connection with Eastern Moors, children from Class 2 (Y3&4) at Curbar Primary School were invited up onto White Edge to observe the annual deer rut with Louise and Amanda from the Eastern Moors Partnership team.

With bad weather forecast, but holding off, the children set off from Curbar Gap car park, passing the new path restoration and stone steps laid by the Eastern Moors team up to White Edge, where the first deer were spotted some way away – a small group of hinds. As the children looked for bracken, bilberries and animal tracks for their ‘bingo’ cards and observed the deer through binoculars, a stag strode into view, making the very blustery conditions worth braving.

Looking for clues on White Edge

They're over deer!

After a walk across to the trig point high on White Edge, some suspicious looking spiky bushes soon began to move around – two more stags resting in the heather. The group could be seen clearly, particularly through the binoculars and the stags were observed throwing back their heads to bellow. The children had great fun trying to 'bolve' along with the stags, but only managed to summon the weather! Rain was blown hard into hats, hoods and faces but Curbar children are a hardy bunch and all made it down and back to the car park without too much complaint for an afternoon of moors and deer-themed crafts in the school.

Stags spotted hiding in the heather

Children have a go at 'bolving' with Eastern Moors Partnership Ranger, Louise

The school extend their thanks to Eastern Moors and are looking forward to their next trip out onto Burbage for a winter walk in December.

by Angie Cottle

Monday 23 July 2018

One hot summer, many wild fires

The summer of 2018 has been a hot one and unfortunately for our uplands, is also the summer of multiple large-scale wildfires. Dove Stone to north of the Peak District National Park and Winter Hill beyond, the Goyt Valley, Warslow Moors, and Big Moor on the Eastern Moors have all fallen foul of devastating fires. In addition many other small-scale fires, caught before they got out of hand, have been found scattered around the Peak District and beyond, threatening our wildlife and draining organisations’ resources. The fires are thought to have been started from a variety of sources including deliberately started, litter, discarded cigarettes, BBQs and campfires, but the results have been the same, hectares of countryside burnt, wildlife killed and resources spent.

The Peak District National Park has a Fire Operations Group (FOG), working in partnership to reduce risk of wildfires, sharing advice and resources and working together in the event of a fire. This team’s effectiveness was apparent during the fire on Big Moor on Monday 21st May, destroying 45 hectares of upland habitat. The fire, thought to have been started deliberately, was spotted mid-morning and within no time Eastern Moors Partnership staff were joined by Peak District National Trust ranger and estate teams, tenant farmers, Chatsworth staff, Peak District National Park rangers and fire fighters, kitted and ready to fight the fire. The area of Big Moor on-fire was predominantly molinia (purple moor grass) and bracken with areas of heather, all highly flammable, so the fire spread very quickly. Water was transported onto site with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and ranger teams used high pressure hoses and backpack sprayers to hit the fire along with traditional fire beaters. As the fire burned quickly across the top of the flammable vegetation, it was an impossible task to keep the fire back without the help of the helicopter, which was already on its way to assist. As soon as the helicopter began to drop water, collected from Little Barbrook pond upstream, it started to feel like the fight could be won. Meanwhile fire-fighting crews totally 64 personnel, brought in hoses and pumps to the stream side of the fire and began the fight to keep the fire from hitting Barbrook Plantation, a valuable habitat for woodland birds and many other wildlife species.

By the end of the day the flames were out on Big Moor and with hot spots appearing to be staying under control, the fire was deemed safe for the night. Unfortunately, the following morning the wind had whipped up across the surface of the burn and significant hot spots had emerged, in places creating flames pushing into the edges of the heather. All day Eastern Moors staff continued to fight the hot spots and by the end of the day the fire was again deemed safe and not expected to re-ignite.

Wednesday was spent clearing the site of kit and attempting to recover vehicles stuck on the moor! It was also a day of walking the fire site, plotting the perimeter with a GPS and walking across areas of the site to assess wildlife and heritage damage. It was a day of reality after the fading adrenalin that had kept staff working through the hours in difficult conditions. Burnt amphibians, nests and eggs were among the casualties immediately obvious. However, with so many small holes visible in the ground lower than where the fire had crossed the surface, some animals had found safety deep down in the ground.

Many people were involved in fighting the fire on Big Moor, just as they are on all the fires across the UK. Fire-fighters, rangers and wardens, game-keepers, farmers, mountain rescue volunteers among others; ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. Moorland fires are dangerous, there is no doubt about it; they are unpredictable, going where the most flammable vegetation and wind takes them and when on peat, can burn deep and reappear behind you. Being on the fire site is like nothing else; even with protective kit such as a face masks and gloves, overalls and eye shields, the intensity of the heat is terrible, particularly as the very nature of the wildfires means you are already out in high summer temperatures for hours on end. The physical action of walking difficult terrain, carrying backpacks full of water and beating the fire hour after hour is truly exhausting. It’s only when you finally get home that you realise the extent of the impact on yourself, and for many people this summer, they have to get up day after day and repeat the unwelcome experience.

The physical exhaustion of fighting a moorland fire is twinned with emotional exhaustion. We don’t just work in these landscapes, they became part of who we are and so a fire feels like a personal threat. Watching the mammals scurrying across your path as you head out to a fire site is heart-wrenching enough, but seeing birds such as meadow pipits and curlew returning to their burnt nests the evening after the flames have been put out is truly heart-breaking; particularly as they are the visible representation of the true unseen impact.  After the fire and hot-spots were out on Big Moor, which was thankfully only two days unlike the weeks of burning for Winter Hill and Arnfield, I walked through Barbrook Plantation, saved from the fire by the sheer determination and skill of fire-fighters. As I wondered through the woods I saw a woodcock, pied flycatchers and red deer. It was a treasured moment experiencing for myself why the aches, tiredness and dirt had been worth it, to help save the surrounding habitats from damage.

Nature is incredible and whilst fires around the UK continue to burn, Big Moor is already beginning to repair itself.  Many people speak of the area as ‘greening up nicely’ but unfortunately the main vegetation fighting back is rejuvenated molinia, purple moor grass which is highly invasive and reduces the chances of species diversity. In fact as part of the moorland management, the Eastern Moors Partnership works to reduce the molina on the moor and ironically, a couple of years earlier, had carried out a controlled burn for this reason, adjacent to the Big Moor fire. This burn was carried out under strict controlled conditions, out of bird breeding and in such a way that wildlife is able to move before the fire reaches them. The area was then sprayed and cut to weaken the plant’s ability to regrow and the area reseeded with a variety of moorland plants. Burning grass without these follow on treatments just encourages the thick molinia, making the area less rich for wildlife. In contrast, the Big Moor wildfire was uncontrolled, in a time of high fire risk when the area was extremely dry and highly flammable, was in bird breeding season where moorland birds were nesting on the ground and had chicks or eggs in nests, and the fire was able to get underway before fire fighters were on-site. Whereas for the controlled fire, the surrounding area was dampened down and staff with hoses and beaters followed the burn, putting it out immediately after it has taken off the surface vegetation. This way the fire is not able to ‘get away’, is slow in damp conditions and directed by staff - an altogether different process!

The Eastern Moors team are devastated by the fire, however they are warmed by the support they have gained from partnership teams, their tenants and the public. They are forward looking individuals who pull together to bring positive outcomes wherever possible and are now looking at how they can bring positives out of a disaster and what the best course of action is for the future of the burn site. They have since assessed the fire’s impact on wildlife and heritage and will be continuing to monitor this as well as taking the opportunity to carry out a full scale heritage impact survey of the burn site. One thing that is for sure, the red deer and cattle on the moor are certainly taking it as a positive outcome and can be regularly seen feeding on the fresh green lawn that the fire has created for them!

The cost of a wildfire runs into tens of thousands and is picked up by the land owners and managers. In the case of the Big Moor fire the cost is estimated to be around £30,000 with approximately £10,000 of those costs falling directly to the Eastern Moors Partnership, a joint initiative between two charitable organisations, the National Trust and RSPB. £5,000 of the cost is for the helicopter which helped to put out the fire and without which the extent of the devastation would have been far greater. The Eastern Moors team have been bowled over by the support received from the public and have been asked by many who felt helpless in the face of adversity, what they can do to help. There is only so much you can do in these difficult circumstances and so the partnership has set up a Just Giving page and are inviting anyone who would like to help, to make a donation. All money raised will help the partnership to recoup some of the money lost, which would have been spent on important habitat conservation work on the moors. Already, with on-line and off-line donations, the fund has raised around £2000, £1000 of which has come from Totley Athletics Club and the Steel City Striders, two running groups who want to thank the Eastern Moors Partnership for protecting the places they love to run.

If you would like to find out more about the work of the Eastern Moors Partnership please visit our website at and indeed if you would like to donate to the Big Moor Helicopter Fund, you can do so on our Just Giving page. Please note the page will be closing soon.
The Eastern Moors team would like to thank everyone for their continued support. 

Katherine Clarke, Visitor Experience Manager, Eastern Moors

Friday 8 June 2018

Volunteer AGM as part of Volunteers Week 2018

This week on the Eastern Moors we’ve been celebrating Volunteers Week 2018, which provides a time for us to reflect on and show our appreciation for all the hard work our fabulous volunteers do. Our team rely on a huge number of people who generously donate their time and expertise to help us protect and develop our moorlands for people and wildlife. This week on our facebook page we’ve been hearing stories from volunteers in a variety of roles about what they do and why they do it. You can read these here.

As well as this, yesterday was the Eastern Moors Partnership Volunteer AGM, which takes place every year in Volunteers Week as an opportunity to look back over the last year of hard work by our volunteers. Not only that, but it’s a lovely chance to get both the staff and volunteers together from the various corners of the Eastern Moors, some of whom never usually cross paths as they work on things as varied as archaeological monitoring, estate maintenance, and events.

This year we followed a tried and tested format of going out for a walk in the morning followed by a buffet and displays from staff members in the afternoon. Luckily we had an excellent day for it and the sun slowly burnt off the clouds as we walked from Birchen Edge car park, under Gardoms Edge and over the top of Baslow Edge, listening to willow warblers and blackcaps in the woods of Jack Flat. As it was such a beautiful morning, we decided (to mixed opinion) to deviate from the plan and take a slightly longer route back under Baslow Edge and then along Jack Flat and back over Clod Hall Moor through the woods below Birchen Edge. We were treated to the sight of a couple of woodcock as we walked below Baslow Edge, which was a lovely opportunity to get “off territory” and see a part of the local landscape that is not managed by the Eastern Moors Partnership.

In total we walked just over 6 miles, getting to the Robin Hood Inn right on time at 12.30pm with everyone seeming to forget about the longer than expected walk as the buffet shortly arrived. It was a really lovely spread put on by the pub who have been very accommodating over the last few years we’ve held the AGM there. We were also joined by a few more volunteers at the pub who had been unable to attend the walk, making it about 40 volunteers and staff all together which was a really excellent turnout.

After lunch and some time to rest our legs, the Eastern Moors site manager Danny said a very well thought out thank you to all our volunteers. Making the comparison of the land use between Eastern Moors and Geltsdale in Cumbria, which on paper are reasonably similar upland moorland reserves, Danny highlighted that the Eastern Moors gets far more foot traffic, with people coming here for so many different reasons and often with a deep and long lasting connection to the land. As such, the work of our volunteers in all their different fields allows us to maintain this place for people and for wildlife in equal measure, and the very presence of such a large group of volunteers reflects how important the landscape is to so many people.

With this lovely reminder of the importance of the hard work of volunteers in mind, the Eastern Moors staff then set up a variety of displays about what has happened on the Eastern Moors over the past year, and what we’ve got lined up for the future. This ranged from ecological monitoring results, the Sandyford Brook bridge and track restoration project, the new 2018-2023 management plan, and the upcoming footpath survey – all of which are aspects of our work that we couldn’t have done or continue to do without our volunteers. This also allowed volunteers to chat with relevant staff about upcoming training, to sign up to projects and events, and to sort out any administrative issues. We also insisted, somewhat cruelly, on snapping mug shots of as many volunteers as we could which will be compiled into a display about the Eastern Moors team at Barbrook Cottage, which wouldn’t be complete without the volunteers!

Overall it was a really excellent day. As quite a new member of staff, the volunteer AGM was a fantastic opportunity for me to meet many of our volunteers for the first time, and I really gained an appreciation of the hard work they do and vast bank of knowledge and experience we have in the Eastern Moors team thanks to these generous and talented individuals. Thank you so much to everyone who came along and here’s to next year, I can’t wait!

By Louise 
Community Involvement Ranger

Friday 23 March 2018

Sandyford Brook Restoration Project 2

It has been a busy week back on the Sandyford project and we’ve made big strides to get the bulk of the heavy-duty work done as soon as it was dry enough, before commencing with reinforcements to the access and the pitched slope itself. Although it has felt for a while that things are starting to look a lot worse before they start to get better, repairing as much as we can as we go and using low-impact vehicles where possible ensures we minimise this. 

The weather at the start of the week did us no favours, with a quarry visit to select materials being put in jeopardy of delays due to the roads being impassable in the extremely heavy blizzards. Thankfully our route re-opened on the still frosty morning of the visit so we were able to confirm the pitching stone was suitable and hand-pick the foundations and bridge slab. These were then able to be delivered to site over the next two days and we have already began transporting them to the worksite in preparation for the next construction phase. This is when a group of experienced stone pitching volunteers from the Lake District National Park will begin laying the first section of track surface.

Measuring the bridge stones which will need to lock together in place for potentially hundreds of years.

To assist that next step, yesterday we were lucky enough to be helped out by a group of undergraduates from Nottingham Trent University, undertaking a conservation project case study at the Lindley Education Trust Hollyford Centre in Castleton. We also were joined by an archaeologist from ArcHeritage, the organisation who produced a recent survey of Eastern Moors' many thousands of archaeological items, who was on site to monitor any ground disturbances.

We excavated the wet clay and matted dead vegetation topsoil, to reveal a quality hard-based tray on which to build up the stone surface. By being flush with the surrounding turf the final track will quick vegetate around the edges and between stones to become almost as natural as the rocky White Edge ascent above. We really hope the group got as much from the day as we did from them and were ecstatic at their work ethic and motivation, for the project as well as protecting the sensitivities of the area.

The NTU student group plan and mark out the track route and safe working areas. 
An archaeology meter stick above a preserved history of clay, peat and soil substratum.

As promised we have not closed off any areas of the open-access moorland up until this point, but have been warning visitors in close proximity of the works and will continue to do so. Only Eastern Moors Partnership staff are permitted to drive off-road vehicles on the site but please take note of the potential for significant increased traffic from the access gate to Curbar Gap car park over the coming weeks. The current deep-rutted access route from here to White Edge Fields unfortunately no longer resembles the traditional Peak District dual-stoned and central grass strip track, as the surface is now mostly compressed into soft ground has been by the weight of machine and materials. However we are already working to reinforce this with more traditional sandstone chippings back to its former state. This will also mean foot access to the site will become much more pleasant through to the temporary diversion that will come into play next week.

On this point, at this time of year it is worth reminding all visitors that on top of these works and heavy machinery traffic, the area continues to be a high risk for Adder encounters with dogs, who have also been noted causing potential significant disruption to ground nesting birds in breeding season. With livestock returning to this area at the end of the week it is vital that dogs remain on leads on the moorland to help out nature during these especially important months for wildlife.
Tools must be hand-carried down to site to minimize vehicle impact as much as possible.

Lastly, it has been great to engage visitors on site and gain some incredibly positive feedback about the project. As always, for any comments or queries please get in touch on, or on this blog or our Facebook 

The finished tray ready to receive stone pitching. Soil deposited to each side is able to be backfilled around the stone steps and vegetation transplanted to eroded patches.