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Countrystride #99: PEAT, POWER & THE PUBLIC – Caring for Watendlath which we explore the much-loved hanging valley of Watendlath and the High Tove ridge above in the company of veteran National Trust ranger Roy Henderson and Cumbria Wildlife Trust's Sean Prokopiw. Posing the question: 'How do we balance the management of such precious landscapes with increasing tourist demands?', we take a whistle-stop tour of projects that are building resilience into the fells, woodlands and communities around the isolated dale head. After a brief history of the valley – from glaciation through Norse settlement to the busy days of the pack-horse trains – we visit a remarkable pollarded ash tree. Heading downstream, we are introduced to one of three hydro schemes in Borrowdale, which collectively generate enough energy to power virtually the whole valley. Passing newly-planted hillsides on an age-old pitched way, we emerge at the Pewits, once a desolation of peat hags, now a thriving upland bog, to learn about the value of these remarkable upland habitats.

Restored bog and western skyline from the Pewits.

Our guests for the day: Sean (left) and Roy (right) with Dave.

Watendlath Tarn.

View fro the old pony trod looking down over Watendlath.

Old pitching - made for ponies, not people!

Geese delta... heading for the Solway.

Approaching The Pewits - 'Eddy Grave Stake' to the right.

Approaching the Pewits exclosure.

Restored peat bog - note the stone and wood 'bunds' that hold back water.

Big pools in which new mosses are forming.

Roy and Sean.

Helvellyn from the summit of High Tove.


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