Back in April, over the Easter Bank Holiday, there were a series of huge fires in the Peak District National Park. The biggest was on Bleaklow, which burned out 844 hectares of internationally important moorland. The upland areas in the Dark Peak are a rare habitat, raised blanket bog, of which the UK has a significant proportion of the worldwide total. I've included some pictures I took of the fire below. I know I've been really tardy in putting them up despite several other Rangers nagging me to do so, but I frankly wanted to avoid having to look at them.
The fire covered an area of 844 hectares. In addition there were fires on Black Hill, Kinder, Buckton Moor and Slatepit Moor plus others further south.
This is taken from Chunal, and shows the huge stream of smoke from the fire on Bleaklow, being blown away to the west towards Manchester. As an idea of scale, the fire is about 8km away and the plume of smoke you can see is approximately 8km long, and caused disruption at Manchester Airport, some 30km away.
One of the many unfortunate casualties of the fire - a mountain hare, still in it's winter coat. Darrel, the gamekeeper for this moor, told me that when he went up onto the moor after the fire he had seen several hares frantically running around, blinded by the smoke and flames and obviously in a great deal of pain.
And here is the reason it probably didn't run from the flames - the pathetic group of bones in the foreground is all that remains of a leveret (baby hare). For those of you that know the area, the burnt mound in the background, right hand side is Torside Castle.
This is a view westwards from Harrop Moss towards Glossop Low. Total devestation. In my opinion the Bleaklow fire was probably started deliberately, I hope whoever started it (and the other fires) is satisfied with their handywork.
It is a common misconception that the fires are part of 'natures way', but it is important to understand that the moorland has been managed for centuries, and because of the proximity of Manchester and Sheffield (two centres of the Industrial Revolution), the area has long been blighted by heavy pollution. This has obviously has a detrimental effect on the ecology and wildlife of the moors. The peat is no longer forming in any noticable quantities, and in fact in many places is eroding at a significant rate. The peat only started forming at the end of the Neolithic period (6000 - 3500 BC), in response to clearance of the land by humans and a cooler, damper climate. Unfortunately widespread and uncontrolled fires (in contrast to the controlled burns used for moorland management) remove the protective vegitation from the peat, which then erodes rapidly. Because peat is such a mobile surface, subject to drying out and wind erosion in the summer and freeze heave during the winter, it is extremely difficult for vegitation to get a foothold on areas that are bare peat, and the low nutrient and high pollution levels don't help either. The "Moors for the Future" project is trying to repair centuries of damage, and the fires this year have been a huge setback.
For more information on the Dark Peak, I can strongly recommend the University of Manchester Geography Department's superb Dark Peak Fieldwork site.
If like me your website is hosted on a machine sat on your ADSL line, the total amount of bandwidth used by people hitting your site can be a concern. My friend Stephen pointed me at this rather cool utility - Trickle - that you can use to limit the total bandwidth used by people downloading - the really useful thing is that it can limit more than one application at once, so if you are running say a website and a FTP server you can limit the aggregate bandwidth used by both. Another friend Gary who has libxml2 binaries for Solaris on his site has used it to limit his bandwidth, and says it works well, although I haven't needed to deploy it myself (yet!)
I see a new Perl 6 book has been announced. It sounds quite interesting, the title is 'Designing Perl 6', and it is an explanation of the design methodology which is being used to decide which new language features will be in Perl 6. This should be an interesting insight into the minds of the Perl 6 designers.
I've snagged a copy of the cover artwork, which you can find here.
I've also a higher resolution version which you can find here (152k)