Macclesfield Express - - LEISURE - EAST CHESHIRE RAM­BLERS

EAST Cheshire Ram­blers ex­plored the ecol­ogy and land­scape of De­lamere For­est re­cently and saw for them­selves how skil­ful land man­age­ment is at­tract­ing back rare species of wildlife.

And who bet­ter to ex­plain its sig­nif­i­cance than fel­low mem­ber John Han­d­ley, Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus at the Uni­ver­sity of Manch­ester, who led the walk.

“We had a solid walk, ap­proach­ing 10 miles in length, tak­ing in a sec­tion of the Sand­stone Trail in the morn­ing and mov­ing into De­lamere For­est in the af­ter­noon, to ex­plore moss­land restora­tion,” he said.

“The high spot of the morn­ing in all re­spects was a visit to Ed­dis­bury Hill­fort, a won­der­ful land­mark con­structed in the Iron Age but with ori­gins that go back to the Bronze Age. Our guide here was Roger Nor­ton who helped with the ex­ca­va­tion of the site and had the pho­to­graphs with him to prove it!

“By the end of the af­ter­noon we all knew our Scots pine from our Cor­si­can pine, and mar­velled at some of the fine stands of tim­ber which have now emerged un­der the Forestry Com­mis­sion’s ex­pert hus­bandry.

“We also saw the last re­mains of west­ern hem­lock, a conifer from North Amer­ica which had been planted on the peat filled hol­lows, drained many years ago with forestry in mind”, he added.

To­day the wheel has turned, the drains are be­ing blocked to raise the wa­ter level and the west­ern hem­lock has been cleared in a re­mark­able moss­land restora­tion project spear­headed by Cheshire Wildlife Trust. An im­me­di­ate ben­e­fi­ciary is a scarce dragon­fly, the White-faced Darter, which has been suc­cess­fully rein­tro­duced to De­lamere to be­come a flag­ship species for the recre­ation of low­land acid mires, one of Cheshire’s rarest and most threat­ened wildlife habi­tats.

John’s ecol­ogy walks have be­come an in­creas­ingly popular fix­ture on the ECR pro­gramme.

Watch out for th­ese and other theme walks at ram­blerseastcheshire.org. uk.

●● Pro­fes­sor John Han­d­ley ex­plains how eco­log­i­cal restora­tion has cre­ated a new home for the White-faced Darter dragon­fly at Doolit­tle Moss

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