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