Fires on the Moor.
One of the most destructive forces on the moor is fire and as the dry weather settles in over the site it is the one that requires the greatest vigilance.
Fires do happen naturally of course and in some places it is a chance for nature to start afresh with new growth.
In other places they can cause massive, irreparable damage to wildlife, habitats and property.
On Crompton Moor such damage is often mixed.
On this picture, taken not much more than a week after a fire tore through Pingots Quarry, new grass can already be seen to be growing amongst the ashes.
The heather that was burned will take years to return, the trees will take decades. Young birds in their nests were burned alive and small mammals were caught in the blaze too. A pair of kestrels known to be nesting in the area have not been seen since and may never return.
It is quite possible that the teenagers that started this fire for a lark, will still see the signs of their stupidity when they bring their children here and wonder why the hill is so bare.
Other fires are started by carelessness. One small cigarette butt discarded without thought, can cause a blaze that wipes out hundreds of acres of moorland.
And then there are the camp fires.....
A camp fire in the right place can be a great experience. In the wrong place it is illegal, destructive and even dangerous.
Most people assume that a camp fire is safe if it is lit away from dry grass or vegetation. Some people do not even have that much sense. What a lot of people do not realise is that certain types of ground present hidden dangers.
Fires lit on peat, pine needles, leaf litter or even coal mine waste can ignite the materials underneath the fire as well.
Once alight, such fires can spread and smoulder under the surface, even after the original fire has gone out.
Often difficult to detect and very difficult to extinguish these underground fires can re-emerge to start bigger surface fires or even collapse under the weight of people walking over the surface.
Camping and the lighting of open fires on the moors of England is prohibited without the permission of the land owners.
Even if such permission is given such as when the cuttings from the plantations were burnt off, they are lit under very carefully controlled conditions.
Watching Bear Grylls on the telly and then lighting a fire in the middle of the woods, because you want to sit round it and get drunk with your mates, is not carefully controlled conditions and it is certainly not permitted by the rangers on Crompton Moor.
It is illegal and if caught you will be prosecuted.
Quite apart from all the dangers stated above, camp fires are an eyesore and often littered with discarded beer cans, broken bottles and food packaging.
It all has to be cleared up by someone and that is rarely the slobs that left it there in the first place. Do the world a big favour and turn your own back yard into a refuse tip.
People who have a genuine interest in outdoor life also follow the principles of minimum impact and leave no trace.
This means that no one should be able to even tell that you were there. There should be no camp fire rings, no burned ground, no litter and definitely no trees hacked down for firewood. Fresh wood does not even burn well, so cutting a tree to burn on a fire is just plain stupidity anyway.
1st March 2009
Well Spring is on itís way and some of the other users of the moor have made a return. Unfortunately one of the first things they tried to do was burn down the woods.
I was walking down by Whitesides plantation after photographing the bike trail that was marked out and is beginning to be cut when I noticed a large cloud of smoke rising from the lower part of the wood. As I approached to find out what was happening I was spotted by these three lads who started urgently calling out to their mates in the wood.
I grabbed a quick shot of them as I headed into the woods where the smoke was coming from.
Their mates had obviously scarpered by the time I got there but the source of the smoke was some fires that had been started in a few places and looked like they were intended to spread.
I had stamped the majority of them before thinking to use the camera that was still in my hand.
The kids meanwhile were legging it and jeering as they made their way up over the hill.
I managed to get a few shots of them at extreme range that resulted in pictures someone may be able to recognise, but these images are the best I could get from across the valley with the camera I had with me at the time.
If you recognise any of these people Iím sure the rangers would be very interested to hear from you.
I know open access for all is supposed to be a good thing but at times I do wish something could be done about Neds and Chavs like this.
Fortunately I was there in time to stop this fire but quite often things progress to the stage where only the fire brigade can deal with it.
Letís just hope itís another wet summer.
Six fires on the moor in just over a month, mixed groups of youths seen in the vicinity or leaving the area on each occasion. Is it any wonder we hope for rain on the weekends and in the school holidays?
We are told by the council that this situation will improve with more people using the moor, yet four of these fires were started on sunny weekends and the others in the Easter holidays. All very busy times on the moor.
So much for safety in numbers.
Contact the Rangers on 0161 620 8202 (Strineside Centre) or 0161 627 2608 (Tandlehill) Other contact details
All text, artwork and images on these pages, unaccompanied by a separate credit, are copyrighted material and property of Gary Waidson. All rights reserved.