Kinder at the Peak of flood defence

The Peak District’s iconic Kinder Scout is synonymous with walking, adventure and getting out into the great outdoors. But what many people may not realise is that it also plays a vital role in flood defence.

Sitting between the cities of Manchester and Sheffield is the giant that is Kinder Scout, known and loved by generations of locals and visitors alike. But a combination of people, land management and climate change has taken its toll on Kinder, causing severe damage to the moorland such peatbog erosion. These peatland bogs are important habitats for species such as mountain hare, red grouse, golden plover and the common lizard. This damage hasn’t just meant bad news for wildlife; it has wider implications including the increased threat of flooding to towns and villages downstream. However, with £2.7 million in funding from United Utilities and Natural England, the National Trust has been working to restore this area of badly damaged moorland and turn the fortunes of its wildlife and surrounding communities.

In the last five years over 6,000 dams have been installed on the plateau of Kinder to slow the water flow, which would normally race down the grips and gullies into the rivers below. Built by National Trust rangers and volunteers, the dams have also enabled the water table on the moor to rise, which means the water can now trickle slowly off the land over a greater period of time and the amount of water the moor can absorb in heavy rain has increased.

We’re blocking up the gullies to try to keep the peat in place
Wardens working on the drainage of the blanket peat on the High Peak Estate, in the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire
We’re blocking up the gullies to try to keep the peat in place

As well as the thousands of dams, the Trust has also restored almost 200 hectares of bare eroding peat bog, helping to lock in carbon – preventing it escaping into the atmosphere. The once exposed ‘moonscape’ of peat is now covered in healthy vegetation –not only providing a better home for different species but also preventing peat running off into water sources ultimately used for drinking water.

Two thousand native trees have also been planted and woodland areas created to encourage natural regeneration of up to 5,000 trees lower downstream. This work is just a small part of a much bigger plan to restore, protect and improve the High Peak Moors. In 2013 the Trust launched the High Peak Moors Vision - a 50-year plan to improve the landscape and diversity of the moors, access and wider public benefits such as improved water quality. The work on Kinder demonstrates the multiple benefits that nature conservation can bring, not just for wildlife but also in helping to provide clean water, reduce the risk of flooding and increase the natural value of an amazing place.