Tuesday, 30 January 2018


A few notes from the song thrush. Not enough to call a song. A lot of fussing from the blackbird; also no song. The robin obliges. As he always does, bless him.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Stop Them

Any ideas are welcome. We need a strategy for keeping away people with chain saws.

Meanwhile these astonishing people are tweeting about their " Audience Development & Gateways to the Landscape consultants"

Sunday, 28 January 2018

In Relief

                                                                                      (21st Jan)

Thursday, 25 January 2018

"Good Morning" to You Too

I was "good morninged"on Blacka by a couple of bikers the other day. They were riding towards me at speed  dazzling me with powerful headlamps mounted head high; not needed as daylight was good enough even for speeding.

As I took evasive action one of them said something as he passed, then saw fit to reprove me for not responding. He had apparently said "good morning". I was barely able to give an answer before they disappeared down the bridleway.

I recall the conversation near the beginning of The Hobbit: "What a lot of things you use Good Morning for," said Gandalf.

In this case as I've pointed out before the bikers use the phrase to score points knowing that they are not welcome. There is a clear agenda here. Put the inconvenienced walker in the wrong. Presumably the same principle applies to a mugger who robs you of your wallet knocks you down and calls out "Have a good day"  as he dashes off down the street. You should call after him "You too my good fellow".

This post from October warned of this.

30 years ago this wouldn't have happened. Country footpaths and bridleways were different places then. They were refuges from the madness of life elsewhere. That was what regular walkers came for. Those were the days before the curse of the mountain bike and its more annoying users, whose lives are enhanced by the thrill of the activity and opportunities for buying more and better gear. They do not visit Blacka because it is a special place in itself but because it's somewhere to use their bikes and various gear that goes with the activity. They're not there long enough to savour the pleasures of a nature reserve.

In that they have some affinity with SWT who also never visit to enjoy the place only to exploit it. One reason why SWT cultivates the bikers as allies. The bikers are well organised and represent a coherent and simplistic group who can be ranged against those regular but unattached users who appreciate the best that Blacka has to offer (and the worst that SWT does).

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Shade and Snow

Snow in woods without sun.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Place to Be

When the sun comes out after a fresh fall of snow the woods are irresistible.

Blacka is fortunate in having woodland and beautiful trees at a high level.

Access remains a problem. Squeezing through the gap at the side of the barrier threatened an injury or leaving me wedged permanently to the amusement of motorists on the A625.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018


Wild animal traps are evil. Good Samaritans needed.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Worth Reading


Jokers, But No Joke

The mindless slaughter of trees continues while those responsible still try to get brownie points from criticising the city council and its PFI contractors for destroying street trees. Hypocrisy never goes away does it?

I sometimes wonder if any of SWT's employees ever listens to or reads the comments and criticisms of member of the public. I was once told for instance that an instruction had gone down from above that they should not read this blog. Presumably for fear of being corrupted? If true that is a wonderful joke but still a great tragedy for trees and woodland.

Now one of the most beautiful walks is further spoiled. It had already been compromised brutally by the installation of barbed wire fencing. Now, on the other side of that excrescence,  more trees have been cut to further their ideology of tree starved heathland. The evidence of the destruction can be clearly seen.

No wonder the stag can't wait to withdraw into the woods.

And to rub salt into wounds the area to the north of the fence and the path has been strewn with large amounts of spoilage from the logging operations. This had before been a lovely sight for eyes drawn to the natural evolution of woodland with trees living and dying and decaying with no influence from man.

Shame on them.

One wonders how hard we should be on what is largely just rank ignorance. If they don't know they are doing wrong should we treat them as merely uneducated children? But it's more than that of course. The managers know very well and indeed structured their whole approach to be able to disclaim responsibility: the best they can say to counter criticism though, is a pathetic response:

"It's in the management plan."    We're entitled to ask "Who put it there?"

Sunday, 14 January 2018


There are often temporary signs like this on this stretch of Hathersage Road, one of the most important routes into Sheffield.

Sometimes they warn of ice, sometimes of floods. This one tells us the road is 'Liable to Flooding'. It's pretty obvious why this section is regularly flooded. The land on the far side slopes down onto the road and as mentioned before drains water across the road and onto the north side of Blacka.

It's been known about for many years. The result is serious danger of aqua planing and skidding. Yet it remains with no serious attempt to deal with the problem, merely these temporary signs. How long do we carry on with inadequate temporary 'solutions' and warnings before serious attention is given to this? I guess it will be until there is a very bad collision.

Instead the most obvious causes of the problem are ignored. Land managers continue to put sheep on the land when it badly needs to be allowed to become wooded - not the whole answer but at least a lot better than exploiting it for sheep. And trees would be the natural solution.

And when there is a bad accident who would be responsible?

Sunday, 7 January 2018

No Conjunction

The advice was to be looking south east in the hour or so before sunrise. It was a clear frosty morning and I'm fairly often out before dawn so thought I might see the touted conjunction of Mars and Jupiter. I've seen Mars often enough before and Jupiter too but this was to be special.

What went wrong I don't know. But I saw no conjunction nor even any planet. Perhaps it was the layer of cloud to the east though it was very low.

Perhaps it was Wimble Holme Hill and Sheepcrap Hill (once called Thistle Hill but now renamed) in the way.  The top of Bole Hill might have been the place to stand.

But the moon was good to see. Not full but parts of the Seas of Serenity and Tranquility were visible.

And it always looks good behind winter trees.


Monday 8th

Getting up earlier was the key to seeing the conjunction. But only from the highest parts of Blacka. And photos are not effective. Still the best pictures of Jupiter  are from Nasa's billion dollar Juno expedition:


Subsidy Farming

A chunk from Matthew Parris's recent article in The Times. Very relevant to the way that SWT manage the Sheepcrap enclosure at Blacka as well as the cow grazing on the "heathland".

I know a bit about the CAP’s basic payment scheme as I qualify for its benefits and am about as deserving of this charity as the Duke of Westminster, although on a different scale. The ownership of more than five hectares of land (I have less than six) entitles me to more than a thousand pounds a year of taxpayers’ money on the grounds that I let a friend run sheep on this rough, boggy and unimproved grassland. No account is taken of my already ample income; no thought is given to whether devoting land like this to grazing is something the state should be subsidising. Were I to plant more trees, or turn our marsh into ponds for wildlife, I would cease to qualify.

It's not about wildlife or nature, it's about money. The enclosure here is about 30 hectares. Parris is one of the more honest of (ex) politicians and usually worth reading.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Kind of Desert

There have been questions about those who speak for "the countryside" and "national parks"  for many years. These two tweets are relevant. Scrutiny must continue. Who are the people behind "Campaign for National Parks"?

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

No Promises

I've previously made a resolution to avoid mentioning SWT's absurdities; I failed to keep to it then  so I'm making no promises for 2018.

Now the 12 year olds who comprise the management and trustees of that organisation have decided to instruct one of the staff to keep up a regular commentary on Twitter. And some of the output is notable even by their standards.

I copy here a recent Twitter contribution from Sheffield Wildlife Trust.  First we have to be surprised that the impression is given that anyone from SWT has been anywhere near Blacka during a holiday period; maybe the first time ever as usually there's no chance of contacting any of them during holidays despite their being responsible for this 'magnificent' and 'spectacular' public site (their words). Still any new evidence that they now want to claim real commitment to Blacka ought to be welcome.

How nice it would be to find something positive to say about this shower. God knows we've tried.

Considering I've been saying that Blacka looks wonderful in the snow I find it pretty bewildering that their example of 'looking fabulous' is so far from 'fabulous' as this: an utterly boring treeless scene which even the snow fails to make appealing. See this post for what is really worthwhile on Blacka. Can anyone not get this?

But why does SWT claim to encourage people to visit Blacka in the snow when they make no effort to make it easy and even make it more difficult? It is part of their job to make access easy but they do the opposite. Just for the benefit of those who do not know the site there follows an explanation.

There is just one car park for Blacka from the Hathersage Road. In fact it's not really a car park at all as nobody claims responsibility for it: it's just a space which people use and which neither SCC nor SWT have done anything to develop, although they are happy to exploit it by putting up their publicity posters and use it as a meeting point. SWT made a commitment to get something done about it some years back but have failed to honour that. In snow or ice it is inaccessible comprised of a bit of crumbling tarmac with sharp edges. You might get into it but getting out again is another thing.

From here it rises to about 1 in 3  often covered in ice in winter. At the bottom you may find it dangerous to get out of a car..

Once there was an alternative 200 yards lower down on the other side of the road at Piper House. That entailed having to cross the A road but that was sealed off by the highways people with no consultation and no alternative provided. A layby another 200 yards below was used by some visitors because it was opposite an old gateway.

This was recently blocked off by SWT responding to a ridiculous whim of their cattle grazier: not content with the £20k worth of barbed wire fencing and even more on stone walling he thought his cows might breach these fortifications and get out onto the road**. This requirement of a double layer of boundary stockading must be unique:  Eastern Moors stock on the other side of the road do not need that.

The result is that anyone along that stretch of Hathersage Road wanting to access Blacka needs to walk 200 yards from the layby along the side of a busy road to get to the nearest access point.

To add a personal element to this, I currently walk with a stick and with difficulty needing a hip replacement. Others with problems may not be so persistent. The verge is not easy to walk on and the road itself is more than usually hazardous. The bend has been the scene of fatal accidents and is probably the most dangerous in the whole region; it is common to find that cars have gone into or through the stone wall.

Regular visitors to Blacka know what to think of SWT's suggestion that we visit Blacka in wintry weather.

** as reported by SWT's reserve manager.