Hauling heather

Heather bags

As part of the Moors for the Future project, large amounts of cut heather is going to be spread on the burnt, eroded and degraded areas of peat on Bleaklow. The heather contains lots of seed which will hopefully germinate and recolonise the bare peat areas, and the cut heather will also act as a mulch to protect the peat and the new growth from the erosive effects of the weather. The peat is far to delicate and soft to allow the use of machinery, so all the heather (several thousand bales) has to be cut, loaded onto lorries, brought to the nearest roadhead, transferred onto tractor trailers and moved to the marshalling point - Glossop Low - via a farm track, from where it will be airlifted by helicopter onto the moor. Yesterday (Sunday) I walked up from the house to the marshalling point to (foolishly!) give a hand with the loading operation.

Heather bags

There are several thousand bales of cut heather to be moved (the piles in the background are just a small portion), and in order for them to be lifted by the helicopter they all need to be loaded into lift bags (the white bags in the foreground).

Heather bags

All the heather bales have to be individually hand-loaded into the lift bags, 10-12 per bag. This is a very awkward (and scratchy!) operation, and is extremely tiring - we managed to fill about 30 bags in 3 hours, by which time I was completely knackered - taking photos was a good excuse to have a breather :-)

Heather bags

Some of the heather is cut into smaller pieces to make it easier to spread, and this (fortunately!) comes already loaded into lift bags. Shifting these is a much easier operation, requiring only the services of a local farmer and a tractor.

Ponies

At this time of year it gets dark by just after 3:30pm, so at 3:00pm we stopped work - for which I was extremely grateful. I cadged a lift down the hill on one of the Land-Rovers, and walked the short distance back home from Blackshaw farm, past Swineshaw reservoirs. My arms and hands are still aching :-)



Re: Hauling heather

That is so cool that you get to help with that. I read about this somewhere...maybe the Guardian?...and figured you be out there helping :) I hope it works.