Sunday, 31 August 2008
Saturday, 30 August 2008
The story initially put about by SWT was that the cattle had not appeared this year because of the slow delivery of Blue Tongue vaccine. Then a small number of the cows arrived on the sheep pasture. But instead of moving onto the intended destination - the large specially enclosed mixed moorland section- they have stayed in with the sheep. It's clear, having spoken with my authoritative source, that there is a lot of misinformation flying around. It's also a fair guess that SWT will perform, true to their record in producing more misinformation in an effort to play the blame game.
Stories about local people taking gates off their hinges and setting dogs onto cattle do not ring true to me. But it's always hard to prove that something did not happen once the rumours are circulated. All I can say is that I've not seen any evidence of it despite daily walking on Blacka and making it my business to be fairly observant.
But the farmer who provides the animals is evidently aware that his animals are caught up in a dispute about barbed wire, general poor management and public relations from SWT and arguments about nature reserve status and different visions for Blacka. So the word is that he is telling SWT that if they want cattle here they should get their own. They won't like that because it would take them away from their deskbound jobs producing paperwork tonnage. That was another of the farmer's complaints - SWT were rarely to be seen on a site which is anyway difficult to monitor.
Friday, 29 August 2008
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
The path going up from the stepping stones has ferns to right and left largely untouched by the cool nights that have affected them higher up around Blacka Hill. Bracken, of course, still grows under trees in the woods but is nowhere near as dense and vigorous even if the occasional plant becomes quite tall. But most of these are Buckler Fern:
Buckler Fern is both a more attractive fern plus a less invasive presence. The path winds satisfyingly with patches of heather and bilberry where the light gets through to the floor near the path and even some late flowering Dog's Mercury.
Towards the top the wind delivers a sudden waft of perfume as seductive as honeysuckle, but it's no longer Spring and very few flowers are around. The surprise was that it came from the humble Creeping Thistle, not only fragrant but managing to stand up tall amid the supporting vegetation.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Saturday, 23 August 2008
No signs yet of any of the more interesting fungi, though six determined seekers were up here a few days ago in driving rain hoping to find the Liberty Cap (before embarking on their trip). Only the young have that kind of obsessive ability to ignore the weather in pursuit of minor pleasures.
The highland cattle are unable to ignore people. Sitting on a stone for a few minutes and then looking round, we find they've gathered to find out what we have to offer.
The dogs are off the lead but behaving well. Still it's not recommended to have dogs off lead among livestock and there are signs to that effect. Also the man appears to have brought his vehicle past the Stony Ridge car park all along the track to the pasture gate.
Returning through the gate we find out that the unknown dog walker is in fact a Peak Park warden.
It's unusual to see one of the conservation police out here so early in the morning but interesting to know that they also walk their dogs here. Dog walking has figured in some of the exchanges and controversies with the wildlife trust in recent years. At one time about five years ago they were about to impose (or try to impose) restrictions on people walking their dogs here. They later denied this when they discovered the depth of feeling among local users of Blacka. But it has been an ongoing theme in relations between locals and SWT that we have never been able to trust their word concerning their intentions, only finding out later that the story we had initially been told was somewhat wide of the mark. The recent release of papers including minutes of meetings following a freedom of information request, makes clear that they had fully intended to restrict the previous freedoms of local dog walkers. It was only after a determined campaign in 2005 against the changes to the Graves Covenant and opposing an extension of grazing that they changed their mind. We can feel sure that the original intention will resurface if we are not vigilant in years to come.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
A few yards away there are still some birch trees left that have survived the mass poisoning from 5 years ago. Most of the others have fallen or remain as stick skeletons. The survivors have some foliage but have been permanently distorted by the experience.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Another example of the need to be alert if you wish to see any of Blacka's red deer. This afternoon we came across this stag quite suddenly, but patience was rewarded with a much better view:
He was a fine animal with a quite beautiful coat and good antlers enjoying the afternoon sun, the first deer I've seen since the antlers in the bracken on 1st August. The barking hind on 21st July was the last time I'd had a full view. Hoofprints, however, are usually to be found somewhere nearby on soft ground.
Nearby is a sad picture that surely few people could call cute - the sheered and dye splashed sheep.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Petitioning leaders for redress was an ancient right of subjects in imperial China: commonly the complaint would be of a breach of village regulations or of corruption.
Now there's been a new White Paper published about something they choose to call "Community Empowerment" and comments have been in the press here and here and in many other places. There is a suggestion here that local councils will have to respond to petitions from communities. What kind of response is considered adequate is not clear.
I have only once been involved in helping to organise a petition. It was on the subject of Blacka Moor and was conducted in summer 2005. The process of presenting the petition was something of an education. Despite the large number of signatures and the excellent case made it was brushed aside by the senior council member responsible (a certain Harry Harpham). When we challenged him afterwards in some astonishment he remarked that he had organised petitions himself and they meant nothing. He seemed to be saying that councillors like him persuaded others to sign a petition on the basis of him signing theirs later on. Our petition by the way could not have been more different: nobody was canvassed - the forms were left at key points on Blacka. 761 people signed. In the light of Harry Harpham's remarks it's worthwhile reading the comment at the very bottom of the Times article from a Sheffield resident.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
All I can say is this: my sole knowledge of SWT has been their activities in connection with Blacka Moor which is their grandest asset (irresponsibly handed over to them by the council 6 years ago). They may do fine work in their other activities. But I would be very sceptical about concluding so from what is written in this report without enquiring of independent minded people with good local knowledge.
Monday, 4 August 2008
The character who lives here has chosen a fine site which looks after itself pretty well, heather, bilberry, cowberry and fern.
Sunday, 3 August 2008
Friday, 1 August 2008
Meanwhile something can be seen hiding (unsuccesfully) in the bracken. But I doubt that many walkers will have seen this.
The modern wonders of digital imagery allow us to zoom in: