A day in the life of an Estate Ranger in the Dark Peak

One of the main jobs of the Estate Ranger Team in the Peak District at the moment is gully blocking. This involves building dams in the gullies on the moors to try and stop the peat from being washed away. This work is vital in trying to prevent peat erosion, clean up the local water supplies, and restoring the nationally important peat bog habitat.

An early start

The team get picked up in the morning in the landrover from various locations, and then drive towards Fairholmes in the Upper Derwent Valley. From Fairholmes we make our way up the tracks and onto the moors.Most of our work over the winter involves blocking gullies on the moors, as part of the High Peak Moors Vision to restore the upland bogs.  Over winter we have a limited amount of time to get the work done each day due to short daylight hours.
 

How we block the gullies

The dams that we build for the gully blocking work are made of stone, wood or plastic, all of which is flown up onto the moors by helicopter.
At the moment we are building dams using plastic piling. The sheets of plastic piling lock together, and are knocked into the peat using a large rubber mell.
Plastic dams are water-tight and hold back the water, creating pools. Any peat being carried in the water is dropped behind the dam. The peat will then build up over time and re-establish itself. Water is then held in place, rather than running off into the reservoirs below. At the same time, moorland pools are created, and upland bog plants such as cotton grass and sphagnum moss can grow.
 
 

Sheltered breaks

We have had a hut flown up onto the moors in the Upper Derwent Valley, where we are working over the winter. We can sit out of the wind and have our lunch, or shelter when the weather is bad – and the weather can turn bad very quickly up there.
Most of this work has to be done over the winter months to avoid disturbing the birds during nesting season. This winter we'll be working on West Stainery so if you are walking in that area you may see us at work-we're a friendly bunch so do stop and say hello.