Friday, 27 May 2011

The Roaches Estate bilberry plants hit by fungal disease

Bilberry plants at a Staffordshire beauty spot have been infected by a rare fungal disease.
Phytophthora pseudosyringae has killed some plants near Roach End on the Roaches Estate, near Leek. The disease does not harm humans or animals.

People have been asked to help prevent the disease spreading by avoiding contact with the shrubs, although the area remains open to the public.

Managers have been preparing to treat the infected site.

'Difficult to control' Experts from the Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England are taking advice from scientists at the Food and Environment Research Agency as they work to deal with the disease.
Signs have been put up requesting people to avoid contact with bilberry plants, stay on the main footpaths and keep dogs on short leads.

Richard Campen, director of operations for the Peak District National Park Authority, said this particular fungus had only very recently been confirmed in Britain on bilberry plants.
He said: "It is not harmful to people, wild animals or livestock, even when eaten, but it can kill large areas of bilberry.

"It is tricky because it's a fungus disease and fungal diseases are difficult to control because they can spread quite quickly.

"The worse-case scenario would be that it would remove this plant or reduce the amount of bilberry in the Peak District, which [would] have a knock-on effect for all the insects and animals that are dependent on it."

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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

National Trust open days in Castleton

Published on Wednesday 25 May 2011
THIS Bank Holiday weekend the National Trust in the Peak District is holding it’s annual Countryside Open Days at Dunscar Farm, in Castleton.

Under the watchful gaze of the spectacular Mam Tor, the open days, on Sunday and Monday, are a brilliant chance to have a fun family day out trying new and adventurous activities whilst learning about the countryside and the work of the National Trust.

There will be the chance to try climbing on a climbing wall, ride crazy bikes, go caving and have a go at geo-caching - a high-tech treasure hunt around the farm using handheld GPS units. Cyclists will be able to get their bikes checked by a bike doctor and children can make their own shield or hobby horse and take part in the hobby horse race at the end of the day. Families can try fire-fighting with National Trust wardens, all of whom are trained to tackle the real moorland fires which happen every year, especially in the dry summer months.

There will also be demonstrations throughout the day from Search and Rescue dogs, and more.
For those looking to relax, there will be live folk music in the farm courtyard and a licensed bar. Hogarths will be providing tasty Peak District meat and burgers with the National Trust putting on a vegetarian food in the Penny Pot café barn.

Events Officer Jenny Gerrans said: “The Family Countryside Open Days are our biggest event of the year. Set in the stunning scenery at the foot of Mam Tor and Winnatts Pass, Dunscar Farm becomes a place of adventure and play, with music, refreshments and activities for the whole family to enjoy. People come to support the National Trust’s work in the Peak District, and have an unforgettable day out!”

For a family day out with the National Trust, visit Dunscar Farm, Castleton on Sunday 29 and Monday 30 May, from 11am till 5pm. Tickets are £4 per Child, £5 per Adult and £15 for a family ticket.

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Electric Bikes hit the trails

Published: 25/05/2011 08:00 - Updated: 24/05/2011 15:09
A PIONEERING project promoting cycling in the Peak District is set to be rolled out across the UK.
Electric Bicycle Network
Electric Bicycle Network
The Electric Bicycle Network launched it’s pilot scheme using Carsington Reservoir as a base for providing a web of hire points and charge points for electric bicycles which can be used on nine different circular routes in the Peak District.

The network, which was initially launched in April, has now been expanded, with charge points for the power-assisted cycles now at many more locations around the routes, including Tissington Hall.

Based around the Tissington Triangle, the network has been a hit among holiday-makers and further networks in the Lake District and Devon are planned.

Representatives from the Electric Bicycle Network are expected to appear on BBC Breakfast on Friday.
Director of Rivendale Camping and Caravan Park, Greg Potter, said: “The electric bikes cater for people who like cycling, but who perhaps don’t want to do the two big hills which you have to go up from here.

“They take the pain out of the two hills on the trails triangle as people are going to Tissington and then at Bradbourne.” Holly Jones works at Carsington Sports and Leisure and has even hired the electric bicycles to travel to and from work. She said: “The Electric Bicycle Network chose the Peak District as the location for the first network.

“Carsington is the hub, which means we are responsible for all the 50 bikes in the Peak District network, which are available for hire at different places, some at cycle hire points and others at accommodation providers such as Rivendale and Hoe Grange.

“You do have to pedal, they are power-assisted bikes, they only work with pedalling, but it helps people get up the hills that maybe they couldn’t conquer before. It gives the chance for all the family to be out together doing things.

“Everybody that tries an electric bike comes off it with a smile on their face.”

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Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Peak District and Derbyshire new Camping Guide

TOURISM chiefs have been celebrating the launch of a new camping guide to boost the region’s holiday trade.
Visit Peak District & Derbyshire tourist board joined forces with The Camping and Caravanning Club to help produce the 34-page guide.
Club spokesman Matthew Eastlake said: “The increase in campers in the area is good news for the local economy.”
Copies of the Camping & Caravanning Club Guide 2011 are available at tourist centres and forthcoming events including Derbyshire Food and Drink Fair at Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfield, on May 21 and 22.
VPDD spokesman David James said: “The guide offers a wealth of information amid a range of superb landscapes.”

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

FREE - food. Natures larder.

Sometimes, or even most of the time, we forget that supermarkets are a very recent innovation. Not so long ago our ancestors would forage and hunt in order to survive. No pre-packed, vacum sealed meat packages or mass produced green leaves and vegitables neatly rapped in a no breathable plastic bag for our distant relatives.

We spend so much time hiking and wild camping all over countryside that we have the ideal opportunity to observe nature. This always reminds me how ignorant I am, I look around at many differnt trees and I can only name a few how embarassing. I really do need to get myself a pocket booklet and start recognising some of these magnificent trees.

On the left we see about the only tree that I can instantly point too and say " hey, I know that one". The Horse Chestnut, and yet I can only recognise it in the spring when it is in flower, oh yes and later in the year when we see the very familiar conkers.

I am even more ignorant when it comes to wild food. Oh yes, blackberrys, sloes and crab apples are pretty obvious even to me, but there is a vast amout of other goodies waiting to be discovered.

 So now when we go out wild camping I carry a small little pocket book that ilusstrates many of the plants that are all around us that are very usful to use in our wild camping cookery.

In only the first couple of hikes/walks keeping one eye on the flora we have found Wild Garlic - Ramsons  (Right). If you pick a couple of leaves, chop them and add to a salad or in any "one pot" type dish the flavour is amazing. I believe that some top chefs are now using wild galrlic in tomato dishes instead of basil. I can see why.

We have aslo found goose grass, easy to spot as it has very sticky leaves that attached themselve to clothing and feel tacky to the touch. And a very common plant in britain that can be found along the road side or any open land is Jack-by-the-hedge, (left).

Again, like wild garlice it is very easy to spot when in flower, but we are not so sure how easy that will be when the flowering season has finished.

So with booklet in pocket everytime we set out on a days hike we keep one eye on the larder all around us and add it to our evening meal. Why carry it when we can pick it up along the way ? :)