National Trust Landrover – Snake Pass, Derbyshire

By: shortfinals

Oct 23 2011

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Category: British Isles, Derbyshire, England, Great Britain, Peak District, Plants

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Focal Length:18mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D40

The Derbyshire Peak District is a magnificently wild and beautiful area. This upland region – divided into the White Peak and the Dark Peak, one named for the limestone rock, and the other for gritstone – is surrounded by major population centres such as Sheffield and Manchester. The Dark Peak has enormous areas of upland heather moorland, which are the home for Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica). These, and other game birds, meant that land owners (many aristocratic) kept the moors as private reserves. This attitude, coupled with the immense population pressure from the surrounding cities, lead to the so-called ‘Mass Trespass’ of 24th April, 1932, starting out from Hayfield, onto the area of moorland named Kinder Scout, by around 400 ramblers. Eventually, access to designated ‘access land’ was agreed, and the National Trust for England and Wales began a process of land acquisition wherever it could.

All these facts meant that when the ‘National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949’ was passed by the then Labour Government, the Peak District was the natural candidate to become the first National Park in Great Britain (1951). Today, many of the areas of Peak District land owned by the National Trust lie within the boundaries of the National Park, and National Trust Wardens work closely with the Peak District National Park Authority Rangers to ensure visitor safety, promote study programmes and prevent environmental damage within the park.

Here we can see a National Trust-owned Land Rover Defender 110 in the Peak District. The Defender is an ideal vehicle for this terrain, with its permanently engaged four-wheel drive and tough chassis. You will find Land Rovers all over the Peak District, as it is a favourite vehicle on both the upland sheep farms and the little villages scattered throughout the Peak. This vehicle is parked just off the A57, Snake Pass, one of the two main roads across the Peak District from Manchester to Sheffield. This area lies within the National Trust’s High Peak Estate, hence the presence of the Land Rover. The road winds through a gap in the hills, and reaches an altitude of 1,680 feet; in winter it is often closed due to heavy falls of snow or extremely icy conditions. It is usually bounded by precipitous drops on the south side, hence the stone retaining wall you can see.

Many upland rivers were dammed in the Peak District to form huge reservoirs (Ladybower Reservoir, Derwent Reservoir, etc.) to serve the needs of the large urban populations which surround it. The Forestry Commission (established 1919), and private landowners, planted huge stands of conifers, at a time when Britain needed timber for everything from ‘pip props’ to lumber for building. This gave rise to a great loss of biodiversity – despite conifers favouring certain bird species such as the Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) and Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus) – and an increase in acidity, with a mean value of 6.1 pH for upland conifer streams in the Derbyshire Peak District, (Riipinen, MP et al; ‘Comparison of structural and functional stream assessment methods to detect changes in riparian vegetation and water pH’, Freshwater Biology, 2009; 54: 2127-2138). To counter this, the Forestry Commission is now modifying its planting schemes to include mixed woodlands with deciduous species, and the National Park’s ‘Objectives for the Dark Peak’ include, ‘…the felling of conifer plantations in appropriate locations for restoration to upland heathland.’

The Peak District is a wild and wonderful place –  a visit to this little slice of heaven should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’!

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