More peat surveying Dec 2020

To be more accurate I should perhaps write ‘less’ peat surveying as the peat was disappointingly thin on the ground – excuse the pun. I am getting to know every inch of South Barrule, sometimes very personally! This time I was on the western flank where the path leads up to the top from the Cringle Plantation.

I had planned my waypoints following contours to ease the number of ups and downs and scrambling over rocks, heather, gorse, and falling down gullies. In windy weather measuring the peat can be quite a chore, so a boring grey day seemed a good choice.. until I got there. There had been some quite heavy rain the previous few days and the terrain was slippery, whether it was grass or stone, and being on uneven ground only made the matter worse. Having the measuring pole is quite a blessing as it acts like a walking stick and enables me to move faster over the moorland and prevent falls.

There is little to say about the 17 waypoints I measured, as there were very few prods with depths of over 30 cm, and very little sphagnum moss, except in secluded areas. It seems to like plateaus or areas where there are natural springs and gullies, so as this section of South Barrule is mostly a continuous slope there was little of interest by way of peat and sphagnum moss. However, I did find a toadstool and I observed an unusual plant ( unusual to me anyway) and the deer grass looked absolutely splendid in its autumn colours. Towards the end of the session I came across an area abundant with sphagnum moss and this was a very bright and cheerful green lying on a springy bed of turf.

At my coffee stop I sat and admired the view down the Glen Rushen Valley, one of my favourite sights, and as I was at ground level I took advantage of the grasses blowing at head height to get some different photos of this area. As you will see from the slideshow there is a lot of tufty grass or heathers and gorse blocking the way for the mosses to grow.

I called in at the Manx Wildlife Trust office to discuss the recording of waypoints and Sarah told me that South Barrule had previously been an area with deep rich peat, but with the mining, quarrying and peat cutting, those days seem to be long gone.

But I live in hope that the remaining 50 or so waypoints I have to measure above Round Table will provide something of value, but either way I am in my element out in the hills, just me and my trusty pole.

I have a few more ‘normal’ walks in the pipeline during the Christmas period, including a Coast to Cairns at the top of Snaefell and a very very early morning walk on New Year’s Day to watch the sunrise. Watch out for these posts, and meanwhile have a lovely and safe Christmas wherever you are.

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