The National Trust Dark Peak Estate Team has been busy this year building dams on the Kinder plateau, and this work is being carried out for a number of reasons, as explained below. The aerial photo of Kinder shows the eroded state of the plateau, with large areas of bare peat and a myriad of gullies criss-crossing the whole area.
Gully blocking is the practice of building dams in the gullies to try and slow down the flow of water in the gullies to prevent the valuable peat from being further eroded. The work is being carried out using funding obtained by the Trust from United Utilities, Biffa and Natural England. To date over
Plastic dams on Kinder
1,100 dams have been built on Kinder, most of which have been put in this year. More dams will be built over the next four years.
A number of different materials have been used to build the dams. Where the peat is deep, we are able to knock plastic piling into it to form the dams – these are very good at holding water, which the second picture shows. Holding back the water allows any peat being washed away to settle behind the dams. This also has the effect of raising the water table and therefore preserving the upland bog habitat. Wooden fence dams can also be built to the same effect. If you are walking across Kinder, please take care when you see the dams and pools behind them, as some of them are quite deep.
Where the peat is not deep, or where the gullies have eroded down to the underlying rock, plastic and fence dams cannot be used, so the dams are built with either stone or logs. The third picture shows some log dams built this week, and the snow
Log dams on Kinder
that fell on Monday. These dams are more porous and do not hold as much water, but they do slow the water down enough for peat to be deposited behind them. They may also provide a foothold for vegetation to grow on and behind the dams.
All the materials are flown onto the moor by helicopter, which minimises the damage to the habitat which would be caused by driving machinery onto the moors. The dams are then built by hand, and in all weathers, as the last picture shows! We do have a hut (shed) on the top for us to shelter in if the weather does get bad.
A typical day on kinder!
The gully blocking work, together with the 300,000 cotton grass plants that have been planted, and other work such as spreading heather brash and reseeding work, should help to improve the Kinder plateau for plants and wildlife, and preserve the peat and the habitat for many years to come.
Estate Worker, Dark Peak
Estate Worker, Dark Peak