Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Day 01 : Is it right to pave the moors?

Edal - Crowden (24km)

When I was a teenager, my fellow Venture Scouts and I hiked across Bleaklow and Featherbed Moss and it was in all honesty, complete purgatory! Scary, endless dread of slipping into the black, and for all we knew bottomless ooze, squishing around on matts of weeds that seemed to cling together and hold our weight by tenuous entanglement. It stuck in my mind for a lifetime. And today I hiked across there again. It's changed!

To my total relief, it's been paved! Yes it has, for miles and miles and miles! (And miles....) You can take a stroll across those same boot-sucking bogs and not even get muddy! It's fantastic! The open moors, the wild vistas, none of the pain!

But is that really so great? A year or so ago, a friend and I hiked across another area of peat bogs and it was just as it ever had been. Leg-trapping black ooze! Exhausting ups and downs of the peat groughs! Disorientation in the labarynth of gullies! Fantastic! Really? Those same areas are fenced off now so that they can be allowed some respite from the thousands of hikers tramping them to oblivion. Millennia of slow peat growth trashed to gravel in a century! Is it really so good that nature is left untouched?

The paths that I whizzed down today gave me everything I got from that hard trek years ago, except the soaking, the dread, and the unintended erosion. Sanitised yes, less memorable yes, but also less awful and I got some miles covered and left no trace!

So the taxpayer footed the no doubt breathtaking bill and the wild open spaces are wheelchair accessible.... Almost! (don't go planning a trip if you really are in a chair! I beg!). I spent a day in the open air and harmed nothing. The birds are still breeding, the bogs are still oozing, the peat is still growing and all is as nature (guided by the alarmingly transformative hand of man) intended.

Whose up for a larger community charge then to pay for it then?


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