This is Booze Moor in Arkengarthdale. We’re doing peat restoration work all around that area. I really enjoy working in this part of the Dales – at the most northern tip. It feels very different from the southern areas: a bit more remote, a bit more rough and ready.
Arkengarthdale has also been quite interesting because of all the different management that’s taking place on the site. There’s the grouse moor, and the farming, and it includes the historical management with the lead mines which are dotted around all over the place. It’s been quite difficult to make sure we’re not having any damaging impact on the historical environment, as well as trying to improve the landscape for its management today; Arkengarthdale encompasses all of that.
In spring it’s fantastic, all the birds start to come out, so you’ve got lapwings and curlews, geese and oystercatchers. It’s like everything comes back to life. There are times going through the winter when the only thing you can hear up there is the wind blowing, or the rain dripping off your clothing!
I suppose to take a photograph you’re just taking that one pinpoint in time, but when you’re actually out there you’re taking in not only that area but the whole area around you, and also the sounds, and what you can feel as well – if it’s a nice sunny day, or if there’s a cool breeze – it’s difficult to get that all in.
I’ve got an agricultural background. My parents own a farm in mid-Wales. They’ve got a relatively large area of peat and upland heath there, and there have been areas where they’ve tried to stop peat erosion. I’ve always been interested in that environment. I quite enjoy wandering around in it, even when it’s windy and rainy – it’s great.
It can take a while to see the impact of the restoration work we do. We’ve done work on some sites down in the southern area of the Dales, which were the first sites we worked on. It’s been good to be able to see the difference it’s made. You’ve got sphagnum colonising the pools behind the peat dams; and whole areas where it was just bare peat and nothing else growing, where now we’re getting vegetation and heather coming back and cotton grass colonising the edges; that’s been really satisfying.