Paths, bogs and Junipers

I recently had a very wet but interesting day out in Langdale on a Leader's Landscape training day, organised by Friends of the Lake District, from which I hope I have gained a better understanding of the huge pressures that walkers, fell-runners and other users of the great outdoors put on the landscape, wildlife and its habitats.

We walked up and over Lingmoor, stopping below the summit at the wild Lindmoor Tarn for lunch and heard from Richard Fox, a National Park Fix the Fells ranger about the paths we walk on in the fells - why the need to maintain and repair them and how we can help keep good care of them for the future.  I was amazed to hear how much damage can be caused to vegetation and soil by even one person using the same route on a regular basis - an important reason for staying on the already used paths.

We also had Simon Thomas from Cumbria Wildlife Trust with us who talked about the upland wetlands (bogs!), wildlife, heather and junipers.  He showed us the depth of the bog by Lingmoor Tarn by using a probe - it was 3 metres deep!  We saw an area near Blea Tarn where an upland wetland project has been taking place and I learnt that Sphagnum moss is a peat forming plant - in fact without it there would be no peat - and it is also a plant without roots!

We also learnt about the important part that Juniper plays in the Cumbrian fells.  These trees or shrubs can live up to 200 years but are now in decline because of poor regeneration so there are planting projects taking place in our fells.  Unlike other conifers, Junipers are important because good soil forms beneath them in which other plants and trees can then grow.  Unfortunately because they grow so slowly and there is also now a disease affecting them, these projects are not always successful. 

All in all it was a useful and thought-provoking day.


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