'''Erosion is a serious problem in the Peak, especially in the peat-covered gritstone plateau areas. The causes are complex and include acid rain from the towns and factories to the west of the Peak, overgrazing by sheep resulting in a degeneration of the heather and bilberry covering of the moorlands and the sheer number of visitors coming to the area.

Over the years, pressure to graze ever-increasing numbers of sheep led to areas like Kinder Scout having three times the sustainable number of sheep grazing it. The result has been a denuding of the vegetation which has led to hugely increased erosion. This has led the National Trust to fence off large areas (to keep the sheep out!) - with the intention of leaving them in this state for up to 10 years in order to allow the vegetation to regenerate.

Heather in bloom
Heather in bloom
At the same time, as leisure time has increased, transport has improved and access has become easier, so the number of walkers on the hills and in the dales has increased. The sheer pressure of their feet (or tyres in the case of cyclists) are steadily wearing away the most popular sections of the hills and have caused the Peak National Park and the National Trust to divert footpaths away from the worst affected areas and pave many sections of the most popular paths.

Paved section on Black Hill
Paved section on Black Hill
The most obviously affected areas are the route of the Pennine Way, much of which has been paved across Bleaklow and Black Hill; Dovedale, where the National Trust has paved the main path down the valley; Shining Tor in the Goyt Valley; Mam Tor, where the summit area has been paved by the National Trust; Brown Knoll and Stanage, where the area at the base of the crag has been severely eroded. The most dramatic effects of erosion caused by a combination of overgrazing and walkers can be seen at Soldier's Lump on Black Hill, where erosion has removed an enormous volume of peat from the summit area during the last 20 years, and the summit trig point, which in the mid 1970s was level with the peat surface, now stands some 1.5 metres (5 feet) above the surface.

As a National Long-Distance Footpath, the Pennine Way has received particular attention and the Countryside Commission funds the maintenance of this path at a cost of approximately 150,000 per annum. This work is carried out by a 5-person team working for the Peak National Park who have a 5-year rolling programme for maintaining the path. The paving work is done using stone flags from demolition sites - these are carried up onto the hillside by helicopter and then laid in place.

Eroded peat grough
Eroded peat grough
The National Trust is particularly concerned about some of the more remote areas of the Peak, especially the Upper Derwent, where paths have appeared where none existed ten years ago and hy 2000 erosion had become well-established in an area which has a fragile ecology. It is ironic that this is caused partly by walkers who visit the area to enjoy its remoteness and solitude - it is now becoming increasingly busy!

However, some specific activities may have to be restricted - for example, quite severe damage can be done by fell races (when hundreds of competitors may run over a section of moor), and cyclists, whose tyres cut deep incisions in wet peat. Cyclists have therefore been banned already from most routes across the peat bogs and fell race organisers are beginning to face restrictions upon the routes they can use.

Over the last 10-15 years a lot of progress has been made in tackling erosion, driven by the Peak District National Park and The National Trust, with funding from a variety of other sources and with the assistance of bands of volunteer workers.

Firstly, sheep have been fenced off the Kinder and Bleaklow plateaus, as overgrazing was a major cause of erosion. Paths from large slabs of stone have been laid where the tracks cross sensitive areas. Then major efforts where made to 're-green' Kinder, Bleaklow and Black Hill - this involved putting matting along the sides of eroded groughs and embedding grass seed within the matting, re-planting heather on bare sections and spreading grass seed or spagmun moss on others, and putting small dams in many of the groughs so as to retain the water.

The results have been generally good, in some places dramatic - such as the Kinder Plateau, which is now mostly covered by deep grass and a few small trees have taken root. Work still continues and will probably do so for years

- Click Here for a slide show
Heather in flower
0 - Heather in flower
Bleaklow Head before re-seeding
1 - Bleaklow Head before re-seeding
Black Hill - Soldiers Lump, very muddy!
2 - Black Hill - Soldiers Lump, very muddy!
Black Hill - approaching Soldiers Lump in Winter
3 - Black Hill - approaching Soldiers Lump in Winter
Bleaklow - eroded peat grough in 2012
4 - Bleaklow - eroded peat grough in 2012
Black Hill - paved section of Pennine Way
5 - Black Hill - paved section of Pennine Way
Soldiers Lump after re-seeding
6 - Soldiers Lump after re-seeding
Bleaklow Head 2019 - grassier than 2012
7 - Bleaklow Head 2019 - grassier than 2012
2019 - Herne Clough has much more grass than in 2012
8 - 2019 - Herne Clough has much more grass than in 2012
Helicopter dropping material for peat bog regeneration
9 - Helicopter dropping material for peat bog regeneration
Matting laid wth grass seed to re-grass the groughs
10 - Matting laid wth grass seed to re-grass the groughs
Typical bog grasses
11 - Typical bog grasses