The top track that runs along between Blacka and that part of Totley Moor to the west is well used by walkers, bikers and horse riders and is used by the vehicle of the grazier who owns the livestock. No grazing happens on that section of the moor to the right of the picture (west) or the track itself however, meaning that what grows on and to the west is not influenced by SWT's or Eastern Moors' intrusive grazing regimes (both use cattle and sheep). So the absence of farming means we get scattered trees, deep shrubs and, fringing the track, various wayside flowers that attract butterflies and other insects giving it a more interesting character than where the livestock are kept.
The track is straight but care needs to be taken as it's rough and stony in places; this must be the result of some pretty careless work when it was originally layed many years ago indicating that sloppy management is not just a recent phenomenon. Inevitably water drains across the track and there are two places where we often need to divert to the side in order to avoid it going over the top of boots.
Nobody takes responsibility for this track, presumably because the likely authorities or organisations, SCC, PDNPA. DCC, SWT, RSPB, NT and any other combination of letters, can't be bothered. Possibly they fear having to cough up funds to make repairs, or being liable for any accidents. But it's not credible that SCC should be able to shrug off responsibility seeing that it must have helped to lay the track in order to give vehicle access to its land. Attempts to find out have come up against blank looks as stony as the track itself. The wildlife trust claims to have tried but my guess is they just gave up too easily - probably accepting without argument such excuses as SCC officers have given me, i.e. that all their stuff before a certain date has been archived in some inaccessible basement. They shouldn't get away with that.
Some drainage has gone on in the past and a ditch runs alongside the track part of the way. Much of that part is fairly wet with a thriving area of marsh orchid and ragged robin amid the rushes. To either side there are common flowering plants giving plenty of interest.
Rather common plants but such a variety as we see less often than when I was a boy. Certainly not the kind of variety that you might find anywhere within the bounds of Blacka's grazing enclosures. And we might come across something a bit special like this among the thistles and docks and willow herbs:
- the seeded head of a marsh orchid.
And over the wall various tree species are present alongside the rhododendron, including beech, ash, oak, birch, pine and willow. Some of these have sent their seeds out over the track and onto the previously treeless area beyond, making even more interest to the benefit of numerous birds.
The view is much improved by the spread of trees but, of course, as usual with the local management mafiosi, we have to be aware of doctrinaire commitments to "openness" that can lead to sudden incursions of chain-saws outside the bird breeding season; all can change in an hour when they sense a feeling of power.
It's not unknown for people to claim to visit Blacka who've never stepped foot on it. They will likely be those who get this far, having negotiated the rough parts of the bridleway to see the end of the woodland opening out to reveal extensive views to the east and south.