Shooting patrol

Every year the 12th August marks the beginning of the shooting season, which runs through to 10th December, and the landowners who own much of the moors in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park close the moors on selected days for grouse shooting. So that nobody gets shot by accident, the Ranger Service put up signs and patrol the moors to tell the members of the public what is happening, which was what I was doing today.

My job was to patrol the area between Snake Summit and Mill Hill, and while I was at Mill Hill I took the opportunity to take a photo of the Liberator wreck close by (SK 05850 90647):


This crashed on October 11th 1944 whilst on a ferry trip - luckily both people on board got away with only injuries. Like many of the Dark peak wrecks there isn't that much left any more, much of it having being carried off by souvenir hunters over the years, although the ground is still littered with blobs of burned aluminium.

Many of the more badly eroded parts of the Pennine Way have been paved over the years, using slabs of recycled stone from old mills. Most of the stone came from this area in the first place, so it seems fitting that it should come back. When the stone is laid, the original top side is put downwards, giving a rough textured path rather than a conventional pavement, as you can see on this section of the Pennine Way between Mill Hill and Moss Castle:

Pennine Way

Whilst mooching around between Mill Hill and the Liberator wreck, I found this excellent example of a Tree Fern fossil (Calamites sp.) in one of the paving slabs. These are related to the modern horsehair ferns, and this specmen would have been alive during the Carboniferous period, approximately 320 million years ago.

Tree Fern

Another good place to find these is on the Pennine Way as it goes over Laddow, although there are none quite as large and fine as this example. There are also some pretty good ones in in Shittern/Small Clough, but they are quite hard to find.

As well as pretending to be a geologist for the day, I also got to watch the progress of the shoot. It was interesting to watch the behaviour of the grouse - normally when they are disturbed they fly up quite high and make a hell of a racket, but their behaviour today was completely different - they tended to stay put, and when they did take wing they were completely silent and kept very low. I suppose centuries of being shot at has given them a genetic tendency to behave differently when faced with long lines of people marching across the moors waving flags ;-)