Help monitor blanket bog burning on Walshaw Moor – Tuesday 15 March

Walshaw Moor Estate grouse shooting business is burning the blanket bog to such an extent that it is exposing and breaking the surface of the peat. This is not allowed under the conditions of the Estate’s Environmental Stewardship Agreement with Natural England.

Upper Calderdale Wildlife Group are monitoring the burning but they need help. If you’d like to learn how to be a burning monitor, please join them at 2pm on Tuesday 15 March at  Widdop Gate, at the start of the track to Gorple Lower reservoir (on the left hand side of the road coming from Hebden Bridge).

When news of recent burning was posted on facebook last month, many people wanted to know what they could do to stop it happening. This is a start.

We need to gather evidence that will support a renewed approach to the EU Environment Directorate to make the UK government enforce the EU Directives that protect this rare and valuable blanket bog habitat and the wildlife it supports.

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Here is the meeting point

Update: What we found

From observation of recent burn patches, we found clear evidence that burning has  exposed and cracked open the peat. But the Restoration of Moorland part of the Environmental Stewardship Agreement for Walshaw Moor Estate prohibits burning that damages moss, some other plants and exposes or breaks the peat surface:

“There must be no signs of burning into the moss, lichen or liverwort layer, or exposure or breaking of the peat surface due to burning”.

Here are photos we took during our monitoring visit.

Bare peat near grouse butt, Walshaw Moor Estate, March 2016

Bare peat near grouse butt, Walshaw Moor Estate, March 2016


Bare peat near grouse shooting butt and drainage ditches, WME March 2016

Wider shot showing location of exposed peat and ditches near grouse shooting butt

Wider shot showing location of exposed peat and ditches near grouse shooting butt, WME March 2016

Cracked peat in recent burn patch

Cracked peat in recent burn patch, WME March 2016

Exposed peat in recent burn patch

Exposed peat in recent burn patch, WME March 2016

Although the Environmental Stewardship Agreement requires Walshaw Moor Estate to block historic drainage ditches or grips, it allows the maintenance of drainage ditches that the estate dug near new roads/tracks and grouse butts, even though this was in contravention of the management agreement. This means extensive areas of the moors are still drained and there is a lot of bare and eroded peat near these ditches, roads and grouse shooting butts.


Ditch, grouse butt, exposed peat, WME March 2016


March 2016

You can see the extent of burning here. All the damage observed in the patch we examined will be replicated across these other patches.

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