Congestion charging for the upper Derwent valley

According to this report from the BBC, the scheme to introduce congestion charging for the upper Derwent valley is back on. This was supposed to happen a while ago, but for some reason the landowner (Severn Trent Water) pulled out. The road up the valley is a dead-end and is only a few miles long and parking is fairly limited, but in 1999 there were 2,000,000 visitors so I suppose some sort of control is needed.

Categories : Peak District

Fire training day

On Tuesday the Peak District National Park held a fire training day at Barbrook Reservoir. This was mainly intended for the full-time Rangers who tend to deal with most of the fires, although there were a couple of part-time staff there as well, including me. Last Easter we had a series of devastating fires across the Peak District, so the fire training is an important part of preparing for the worst.

Because of the nesting season, the training inevitably has to be held early on in the year, so the weather conditions can be somewhat unrealistic ;-) Tuesday was no exception, it rained though a good part of the exercise.

We were split up into three teams, and each team had to get the appropriate gear out of one of the fire trailers, lay a hose line up to a portable dam (water holder) on the moor and pump water up to it from the reservoir. We than had to use a smaller pump to spray water at a designated target on the moor before emptying everything out, carrying it all off the moor again and packing it all back into the fire trailers.

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The fire equipment is stored ready-loaded on trailers at locations throughout the National Park to reduce the time it takes to respond to incidents. Here is some of the kit arriving at the start of the exercise. In order to reduce the environmental impact as much as possible, the minimum number of vehicles were taken down the track to the exercise site. The exercise was carried out with the help of the Fire Service. The guy in the middle is Sean Prendergast, the Chief Ranger. The lady on the left with the camera was from the BBC. Love the hat, Sean!
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The blue thing everyone is gathered around is one of the portable dams. On the ground is one of the small 2-stroke pumps used for actually fighting the fires. The business end of the operation. Note the small-bore hose - obtaining water on the moors is a major problem and it often has to be airlifted in. The small bore hose needs less water to fill than standard hose, and is easier to transport. The most important part of the day - Lunch! For once the National Park provided something for free :-)
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One of the Centaur firefighting vehicles. Normal vehicles can't operate on peat bog, so these are used. The contraption on the back is a high-pressure water pump & reservoir, with a huge funnel so helicopters can refill it. And after it is all over, everybody off - scenes reminiscent of the Paris-Dakkar rally :-) Checking in. For safety reasons everyone on the fireground has to have a tally which is held at the Fire Service Forward Control. Here we are picking them up after the exercise has finished.
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The debrief. Here Sean tells us how brilliant we all were... ..and here are his happy troops, hanging on his every word - right? :-)  

Email smellorama

I just noticed a very bizarre item on the BBC news website. Seemingly Telewest (a UK ISP) is "testing a system to let people to send aromatic e-mails over the internet" and "It has developed a kind of hi-tech air freshener that plugs into a PC and sprays a smell linked to the message." According to the article, it is capable of producing up to 60 different smells and could be yours for a mere £250 pounds.

I dread to think what the senders of the various unsavory emails which flood into my inbox could do to a gizmo like this. Ewww....

Update: This has been picked up by Slashdot - only a day later. Way to go guys...

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Categories : Web, Tech

It's Hare again

For a bit of a change I decided that for today's patrol I'd park up at Snake Summit and walk down Lady Clough to where it joins Ashop Clough, walk up the Snake Path to Ashop Head the back along the Pennine Way to Snake summit - a nice leisurely walk. After getting off the road I dropped into Lady Clough woods:

Lady Clough

There used to be a lovely walk along the banks of Lady Clough and when Mark was a toddler it was one of his favorite places. Unfortunately we had some bad floods in 2002, and it damaged the footpath quite badly. In particular the footbridge over Lady Clough was undercut by the water, and in some places the river changed course and swept the path away. The woodland is owned by the Forestry Commision, and I must say I'm very disappointed in them, after nearly two years the bridge is still not repaired and rather than repairing the old footpath they've chosen to reroute it through a thick part of the woodland, cutting down trees to make a new path. It's not been used very heavily and already it is a muddy morass in places. 0 out 0f 10, Forestry Commision!

Once I got to the confluence of Lady Clough and Adhop Clough I turned right and headed up Ashop Clough to the old shooting cabin at Upper Gate Clough, where I had lunch.

Upper Gate Clough cabin

There used to be lots of these shooting cabins all over the Dark Peak, and they were used to shelter and feed the gentry who came to shoot the grouse. Most of the moors were closed to the public until the National Park was formed in 1951, and in fact confrontations between Gamekeepers and Ramblers were common, culminating in the Kinder mass trespass in 1932. Most of them are now derelict either due to neglect or because they have been pulled down, although a few still survive (not this one though!)

My original plan was to walk up the Snake Path to Ashop Head and then back along the Pennine Way. However I had bags of time, so I decided I'd sneak up Kinder (I hope none of the Hayfield or Edale Rangers read this, as Kinder is their patch! :-) I made my way up the line of Grouse butts that lead towards Fairbrook Naze, and as I was getting my breath back, er - admiring the view I mean, about half way up, I noticed this Mountain Hare a few yards away.

Mountain hare

It looked distinctly unconcerned, so I slowly crept as close as I could to it without it running away. It is around this time of year that the hares begin their nuptuals, and they become a lot more active and visible. I saw this one and one other, but one of the other rangers out on patrol on Bleaklow had counted in excess of 60 today. The hares were introduced for sport (i.e. shooting) in the 1830's, and they seem to have thrived. Most of the other introductions iin the UK have failed, so this is the most southerly outpost of this species. They are the same animal that you see in all those Arctic nature programs being chased by Arctic Foxes.

Mountain hare

I got to within about 10 feet, and at that point I judged that from the quizzical look he he was giving me I'd got as close as he was going to allow. I'd have liked to have got a better shot, but my camera has only a fairly weedy zoom. Once up on the top I walked westwards along The Edge (the northern edge of Kinder is called 'The Edge', and it is in fact the edge of the plateau - all very confusing).

Kinder Northern Edge

Carrying along the edge of The Edge (see, I said it was confusing!) past Nether and Upper Red Brooks, I got to the Boxing Gloves, so called for a rather obvious reason.

Kinder Boxing Glove stones

And from there I carried along to Ashop Head and Mill Hill. As I was walking up to Mill Hill I passed a guy who I'd seen earlier by the cabin I stopped at for lunch - he was most confused because he'd seen me walking eastwards down the path, and now I'd appeared in front of him about 3Km west of where he'd seen me last. After the usual pleasantries and the "What do the Ranger Service do?" conversation I beetled off down the Pennine Way back to Snake Summit, only to find when I got back to the Briefing Centre at Bottoms that the gate was locked and I couldn't get in! These Assistant Rangers can be so unreliable at times, can't they Andy ;-)

Categories : PDNPA Rangers

Flag day

I've just completed the integration of perl 5.8.3 into Solaris 10. This probably doesn't mean very much to most people who read this site, but it sure means a lot to me :-)

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Categories : Solaris, Perl, Work