NEARLY half a century ago in his classic Journey through Britain, the writer-naturalist John Hillaby penned a vivid description of the summit of Kinder Scout: ‘The top of Kinder looks as if it’s entirely covered in the droppings of dinosaurs.’
From a botanical point of view, as Hillaby explained, the northern moors of Kinder and Bleaklow in the late Sixties were ‘examples of land at the end of its tether. All the life has been drained off or burnt out, leaving behind only the acid peat. You can find nothing like them anywhere else in Europe.’
What a transformation has taken place on Kinder and Bleaklow. Today, walkers on these Dark Peak summits see more greenery than they have seen in a generation. In late summer, vast drifts of the nodding white, cotton-wool fruiting heads of cotton grass can make it look like there’s been an impossibly early snowfall. And the Saharan-like acres of bare, brown, dusty peat have been recolonised by clumps of heather, bilberry and cloudberry.
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