For those of you who follow me on Social media would had seen recently about my trip to the Peak District but what was it all about? Minus having some fun in the outdoors; this trip was all about the final part to my Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Scouts awards. The residential section in which I worked with the Peak District Park Rangers on a week long conservation project.
A link is here to find out more what PPCV do and how you can do similar projects.
I'm pleased to say I passed and completed both awards as well as gaining the Peak District Award but its not about the awards, what this opportunity was more about was giving back to the locations I love and explore and to be able to inspire those I work with and will continue to work with into the future to do something similar.
I am now no longer a Duke of Edinburgh participant which is sad and the end of and great adventure which has taken me since the age of 16, a gap for university and finally completing at 24.
But what happens next? Next is training to become a DofE Leader and gaining a whole number of qualifications from Assessors course, Lowland Leader and Mountaineering so I can continue to teach future DofE and Scout participants joining the schemes and the bonus is I get to travel and enjoy the outdoors across the outdoors.
So the future is looking very exciting to say the least!
Back to the Peak District, what was I actually doing during my conservation project?
First day consisted of a small hike around the area to learn and see the landscape, nature and some of the conditions in the park.
The key differences between the White Peaks and Dark Peaks which are very different, the Dark Peaks are open moorland with plenty of heather, bogs and is known for its Grouse and farmland but also black granite which is where the name Dark Peaks come from.
The White Peaks are common for limestone caves and green valleys filled with mill towns like Matlock and famous climbing points like The Roaches.
Both offer up superb views and chances to enjoy the true outdoors being remote and tough at points, certainly in the Dark Peaks with bogs and open land.
The Peak District is also the first and oldest National Park in the UK, first opening in 1951 and by the end of the decade the Lake District, Snowdonia, Dartmoor, Pembrokeshire Coast, North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Exmoor, Northumberland and Brecon Beacons National Parks were established.
On the second day we began the conservation work, the first project was helping to repair a boardwalk around Tittesworth Reservoir for Severn Trent Water. Starting with clearing some of the debris around the edges, creating holes to put new posts in and fixing new wood along edges and chicken wire along the base.
After finishing the boardwalk that morning we were later led to our next project. To clean up a footpath from weeds, grass and debris in preparation to be redressed with top stone and sand. The area around the reservoir is very popular for walking for all ages because its well managed and the footpath management is critical to keeping it this way.
One major reason is to stop people from walking on the grass or straying to far down to the water where ground nesting birds stay, all of which are protected. So this footpath management although tough work to redress and clean up, had a greater sense of achievement in helping people of all ages enjoy the area but also protecting the wildlife.
Later that day, I lead half the group up to see the Roaches. From the conservation centre it was approximately 6 miles round trip, nothing difficult with a small hike through the fields/footpaths up to the famous ridge. Although it wasn't the best weather for photograph, the views are just breathtaking up there.
Day Three: Further footpath management, however rather than cleaning the path up we were moving the top stone and sand to the location and redressing the path. Working in pairs to either shovel the stone and sand into the barrows or working on the barrows to move the stone and finally raking and dressing the path.
The walk between the material to our location was just short of 500metres along a fairly flat path but with a wheel barrow full of stone or sand it is hard work but this didn't stop us from having fun and having a good laugh still. Throughout the rest of the day and the following morning we spent working on a mixture of paths to redress and clean up. Pathways down to the nature hides or general paths around the reservoir and water hire centre, in all between the 10 of us we shifted some 10 tonnes of material for the paths which is very impressive. To measure the distance we cover I was asked to walk along counting my strides. In all I counted 67 steps, each being approximately 70cm.
Which means we covered nearly 50 metres of footpath. This might not sound much and if you agree, I challenge you to go to a National Park and do it yourself!
After finishing up the path we were treated to an educational trip beyond the Roaches, visiting a location called Lud's Church. Firstly the term Church means a building or location used for public worship. Keep this in mind and now below is photos of Lud's Church, its a very surreal location.
As you can see is a deep chasm in the woodland floor. The park ranger who took us here; explained how their were several of these dotted around the area and many were very dangerous as you can't see them out on the moorland. Fortunately this one is very easy to spot and is popular with tourists and hikers alike for its unusual characteristics. Although we had no rain the week we were in the Peaks. Luds Church was still very muddy and unstable under foot so if you are to visit this area, do be careful.
On the final day consisted of cleaning up the barn and another educational trip out up to the Roaches, this time a more in depth tour/talk beyond what I did with those of us who hiked up a few nights before.
During our tour around the Roaches we learnt a great deal about the local wildlife, popular climbing points, peregrine falcon spots and enjoyed the only day of sunshine. In all a perfect way to round up the end of a hard working yet highly reward week.
I huge thank you to the Park Rangers for the week, passing on their knowledge and taking us on the tour.
As I started my Duke of Edinburgh in the Peak District its a nice piece to finish the award on as well.
If you are interested in helping and volunteering on a similar project to this, please use this link to contact the rangers to learn more.
Thank you to you for reading my experience, now I'll stop talking and you can enjoy some of my photos from the last day. To see more photos from my trip click here.
Special mentions & thanks to:
Lowepro / 84.5 Filters / Berghaus / MyOutdoors / Sony Xperia / The Great Outdoors Magazine