Blocking the UK's deepest gullies on Kinder Scout

Severely eroding peat on the top of Kinder Scout, Derbyshire. © Gordon Barker

Severely eroding peat on the top of Kinder Scout, Derbyshire.

Peatlands for the Future
Kinder Scout, Derbyshire

Kinder Scout is an iconic hill in our Peak District Estate, forming part of the Dark Peak Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It supports blanket bog, wet heath and dry heath and is notified for upland breeding bird populations, being home to merlin, short-eared owl and golden plover, all of importance in this area.

Over the last 200 years a combination of air pollution from the industrial revolution, historical over-grazing, wildfires and recreational pressure has meant that large areas of Kinder have become exposed to weathering, producing bare peat. The peat erosion on Kinder is probably the most severe in the British Isles.

The summit plateau of Kinder Scout is famous for its deeply eroded gullies, incised down to the grit bedrock, and long thought to be impossible to block. However, work in recent years has shown that it is possible to dam these gullies and to arrest the massive peat loss which they channel down their courses.

With Biffaward’s support, we were able to fund helicopter lifts of timber, stone and plastic piling, moving these materials up to the plateau for gully-blocking work, and more than 1,200 helicopter bags of heather brash were supplied, air-lifted and spread, enough to cover approx 8ha of bare peat. These areas were stabilised, and planted with cotton grass – over 100,000 plants! We erected a temporary fence around the plateau to keep sheep from the areas being restored until the plants become established. We’re now monitoring the water table, erosion rates and vegetation. It is expected that our restoration of the peatlands could also help reduce downstream flooding.

Despite having some of the worst peat erosion in the UK, Kinder Scout is of international importance for habitats and species, a renowned site for peat restoration research, and a destination reserve. It was declared a National Nature Reserve in 2009.

What we've achieved with Biffaward's support

  • Restoration of 20ha of blanket bog and 50ha of upland heathland.
  • A major programme of gully blocking has been undertaken, trapping and stabilising peat which would otherwise be eroded and lost downstream.
  • Monitoring by Moors for the Future indicates that re-vegetation has had some noticable benefits including: increases in overall vegetation cover; excellent survival of planted cotton grass plants; a very slight increase in the occurrence of dwarf shrub species; and a reduction in the area of bare peat.