Erosion is a serious problem in the Peak District National Park
The Peak District covers much of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. There are many interesting features, such as wild flowers, well dressing, lead mining etc
Erosion is a serious problem in the Peak, especially in the peat-covered gritstone plateau areas. The causes are complex and include acid rain from the towns and factories to the west of the Peak, overgrazing by sheep resulting in a degeneration of the heather and bilberry covering of the moorlands and the sheer number of visitors coming to the area.
Over the years, pressure to graze ever-increasing numbers of sheep led to areas like Kinder Scout having three times the sustainable number of sheep grazing it. The result has been a denuding of the vegetation which has led to hugely increased erosion. This has led the National Trust to fence off large areas (to keep the sheep out!) - with the intention of leaving them in this state for up to 10 years in order to allow the vegetation to regenerate.
As a National Long-Distance Footpath, the Pennine Way has received particular attention and the Countryside Commission funds the maintenance of this path at a cost of approximately 150,000 per annum. This work is carried out by a 5-person team working for the Peak National Park who have a 5-year rolling programme for maintaining the path. The paving work is done using stone flags from demolition sites - these are carried up onto the hillside by helicopter and then laid in place.
There is no simple solution to these problems. Sheep can be fenced out but it is hard to do the same with walkers and if the principle of access to the hills is accepted then the best that the Peak Park and the National Trust can do is to ask walkers to avoid eroded areas and pave the worst affected sections of paths. However, some specific activities may have to be restricted - for example, quite severe damage can be done by fell races (when hundreds of competitors may run over a section of moor), and cyclists, whose tyres cut deep incisions in wet peat. Cyclists have therefore been banned already from most routes across the peat bogs and fell race organisers are beginning to face restrictions upon the routes they can use.
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