Late August or early September is usually the best time to see heather in flower on the moorlands of the Peak District, and this year is no exception. Out of the three types of wild heather in the area, Ling Heather is by far the most common, giving the moorlands the appearance of being carpeted in purple when in full bloom.
This year on our guided walks, we have been lucky enough on three separate occasions to see Ling Heather in its rare white form as shown in this photograph.
There are estimated to be over 5,000 breading pairs of Red Grouse on the heather covered moorlands of the Dark Peak area of the Peak District, so it is not unusual to see them on our guided walks. The males can be instantly recognised by their distinctive red ‘eyebrows’. Great places to see them include popular walking areas such as Kinder Scout, Bleaklow, Derwent Edge, and Stanage Edge.
Book onto any of our open group moorland guided walks for a good chance of seeing them and hearing their unmistakable call.
This weekend, Ling Heather has been just about at its best on the Peak District moors. It is the most common of 3 types of heather that grows in the Peak District. As well as looking beautiful when in flower, it also provides much needed cover for ground nesting birds in the spring.
I am told that a type of tea can be made from its flowering stems and that mead was once flavoured by its flowers.
These photos were taken this afternoon on Derwent Edge, showing a close up of the Ling Heather flowers and the ‘purple carpet’ effect on the moorlands. Ladybowever reservoir is in the background.
Now is a great time to see the ling heather on the moors in all its glory. Whole moorlands in the Peak District appear to be carpeted in purple! The heather has been late flowering this year, probably due to the cooler than usual and wet weather that we have experienced over the summer. The displays of flowering heather that we have seen over the weekend on our half day guided walks andDerwent Edge Walk, have however been well worth waiting for.
Ling Heather near Over Owler Tor with Carl Wark & Higger Tor in the background
Yesterday we enjoyed a short walk onto Stanton Moor from the village of Birchover. As well as being carpeted in beautiful purple ling heather, there are also a wealth of interesting features on the moor to marvel over.
Stanton Moor is believed to have once been a very special place to our ancestors. In Bronze age times the landscape would have been very different with fertile farmland, and timber roundhouses scattered over the area. Evidence has been found all over the moor of field boundaries, burial mounds, and stone circles.
The best known stone circle is the Nine Ladies. Local legend has it that nine ladies went up to the moor to dance on a sunday and took a fiddler to play them music. All were turned to stone as they danced in a circle as a punishment for dancing on the Sabbath. The King Stone outside of the circle was the fiddler.
Another fascinating feature on the edge of the moor is the Earl Gray tower. Built by a local man to celebrate the passing of The Great Reform Act in 1832, which gave every man the right to vote.
A visit to Stanton Moor wouldn’t be complete without passing by the aptly named Cork Stone – an outcrop of local gritstone. It is covered in graffiti, some of which dates back to the 19th century. Footholds and metal hand holds were also added in the 1800’s to enable it to be easily climbed.
This morning our ‘Nature Walk’ took us onto the Peak District moorland along Burbage Edge and across the beautiful Burbage Basin.
It is a wonderful time to be walking on the moors as the heather is just beginning to come into flower. It will be a few weeks yet however before it is at its best.
There are three types of heather in the Peak District. Ling Heather is by far the most common and it is the Ling Heather that gives the impression of our hills and moorlands being carpeted in purple. Less common is the Bell Heather which has slightly larger flowers with a slightly plumby tone to them. Least common of all is the Cross Leaved Heather with its pretty pink flowers. This heather likes wet places and tends to grow in boggy areas of the moorland.
Every year the Peak District Tourist Board organise a two week long walking festival in the Peak District and today was our first walk in the 2011 festival.
On a beautiful sunny day we walked from Hathersage, over the stepping stones over the river Derwent where we saw some newly hatched ducklings. Then up onto Offerton Moor and Smelting Hill, with a wealth of spring flowers to see on the way, including at lower levels bluebells, wood anemones, celandine, and wild primroses. As we got higher onto the moorland, the bilberries were in flower along with cowberries and of course gorse which flowers almost all year round (The old saying is that when gorse is in flower, kissing is in fashion!)
Plenty of bird life too, with Red Grouse, Kestrels, Wheat Ears, and Skylarks up on the moors.
We returned to Hathersage over Eyam Moor. A wonderful day!