Welcome to the Eastern Moors blog site. In recent months this has been updated so that wardens, volunteers and supporters can now write blogs, submit photographs and comment on Eastern Moors topics. Please click on an appropriate tab above to get involved. If you are unsure how to post a picture, article or comment then please look at the Users Guide or email us.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Big Wild Sleepout on the Eastern Moors

Q. What is the “Big Wild Sleepout” and how does it work on the Eastern Moors?
The Big Wild Sleepout (BWSO) is part of a national event headed by the RSPB, which has been running for five years and is hugely popular amongst families in particular. The aim of the BWSO is to give people an opportunity to experience nature close in a new and exciting way, whether in their own garden or on an organised event, such as the events that have been run on the Eastern Moors for the past 3 years. One of the most exciting parts of these events is that they take place on reserves and protected areas where camping is not permitted at any other time. All the events, including our own, are strictly assessed, monitored and run by staff who know the site and ecology well. The location for the Eastern Moors sleep out is on an area of low sensitivity, with activities and the fire (held in metal bowl) actually taking place off the SSSI in the grounds of Barbrook Cottage. We run activities for the families during the sleepout including evening nature walks, moth trapping, pellet dissection and educational activities to encourage their love of nature and help them learn more about this special place. Encouraging people, particularly children and young people, to connect with and learn about nature is integral to what we do and the future of wildlife conservation, people connect in many different ways and this is just one of the opportunities we offer families.

Q.  Won’t events on your reserves disturb the wildlife?
A.  The majority of our nature reserves are open to the public every day of the year, and minimising disturbance of wildlife is always forefront in our mind, which is why we carefully plan which areas of the reserve our visitors are allowed to visit. The same applies during Big Wild Sleepout; ensuring that the camping only takes place on areas of the reserve which are least sensitive from a conservation perspective.

The Eastern Moors event takes place on an area of low wildlife sensitivity with all activities and the fire taking place away from the SSSI.

Q. Why are you promoting fires on open moorlands?
We take moorland fires very seriously and run campaigns and education to inform people about the risks of fires and BBQs onsite. For this supervised event a fire held in a bowl is lit safely offsite, away from the SSSI moorland and managed at all times by experienced staff. We apologise if our advertising has misled in any way as to the nature of the event and will be reviewing how we promote this event.

Q. Why are you promoting wild camping on the Eastern Moors when this causes problems such as fires and litter?
We recognise that outdoor adventures are one of the many ways in which people, particular children, connect to nature and learn to love special places. However this has to be balanced with the primary need to protect the environment. We feel that running a supervised event offers the opportunity for people to enjoy these experiences without compromising protection of the environment or the experiences of other visitors.

We discussed how we would advertise the camp this year and for the previous years we have run it, as we wanted to be clear with the public that this is an organised, supervised event and a special opportunity – not an invitation for people to wild camp outside of the event. As the “Big Wild Sleepout” is a widely recognised brand and we used words such as “Exclusive” “One night only” and “learn from the Rangers” in our advertising, we thought we had made this clear. However if our advertising has led to any confusion we will look again at the design and wording of both the poster and website so that we can ensure no one is mislead by what we are advertising. We also put up signs during the event stating clearly that this is a staff-run event and camping on site is not permitted at other times.
We have no evidence to suggest that wild camping has increased as a result of the events we have run yearly or as a result of the wider BWSO. However we will continue to monitor this onsite and with adjacent landowners. We are aware that wild camping generally is becoming more popular, sometimes responsibly and sometimes less so, we are discussing how to go forward as part of the Sheffield Moors Partnership.

Q.  Why do your event prices vary so much for families? You have to be very wealthy to take part at an RSPB reserve.
A.  Big Wild Sleepout event prices vary due to differing event programmes at the various different reserves, and differences in costs for running the events. To be able to sleep under the stars, at one of our sites, is an out of the ordinary experience. However, it is expensive for the RSPB to be able to run events like these. We charge to at least cover our costs, and where possible make some money that will go directly back in to our conservation work, to keep these places special for nature and humans for years to come.

Q.  Why am I not allowed to camp on the reserve or the Eastern Moors at other times of the year?
A BWSO event is run by RSPB staff who work in conservation every day and know their reserves and the wildlife on it. They are therefore qualified to understand how and where to camp on a reserve in a safe way for the wildlife that lives there. We have a no camping policy at other times of the year, to limit disruption to wildlife and reduce the risk of wildfires.

There is no right to “wild camp” permitted in the Open Access agreement which covers the Eastern Moors area of the Peak District. The Eastern Moors is looked after for people and wildlife, but at this point in time unmanaged wild camping and bushcraft activity could pose a risk to wildlife and the spirit of place. Camping is available at Ed Byrne, Stanage and numerous private sites across the Peak District.

Images from previous BWSO events on the Eastern Moors...

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Calling all budding artists & photographers!

Would you like to see your photo, drawing or painting in the Eastern Moors & Longshaw calendar for 2018?

The Eastern Moors Partnership has been producing a popular calendar for the past three years, full of photographs taken by their talented team of volunteers. This year we thought we would try something different and invite the public to take part in our calendar competition by sending in their photos, drawings and paintings. 

The calendar will feature a portrait format image for the front page and is expected to include a landscape format image for each month of the year. We hope that we will end up with a fabulous calendar with a mixture of photographs, drawings and paintings, which reflect the calendar's theme:

Captivating raw beauty, wild and open landscape, rich in wildlife, 
shaped by natural and cultural history, fought for and cherished by many.

Who can enter?

Photographers of all ages may enter. Drawings and paintings from those aged 16 years and under only.

What can you enter?

Either a photograph, drawing or painting of the Eastern Moors, Longshaw, Burbage, Houndkirk or Hathersage Moors. The image needs to reflect this year’s theme.

We will accept a maximum of two images per entrant.

Drawings and paintings will be scanned and re-sized to fit the A4 style calendar.

Photographs must be high resolution images of no smaller than 2551 pixels x 1789 pixels (landscape format), and for the front cover no smaller than 2551 pixels x 3579 pixels (portrait format). You will be asked to submit low resolution versions of these images in the first instance, and if your image is selected for inclusion in the calendar, you will be asked to submit a high resolution version.

The criteria for judging will be based on the creativity of the image, quality of the image, relevance of the image to the calendar’s theme, the image’s ability to create, along with other chosen images, a cohesive and sale-able calendar.

How to enter

You can send entries by post to: Calendar competition, Barbrook Cottage, Nr Owler Bar, Baslow Road, Sheffield, S17 3BQ. Or email low resolution photographs to:

Please include:

  • Your name, address, age if 16 or under, telephone number and an email address.
  • Location of drawing, painting or photograph.
  • Title of entry.
  • For photographs only, date photograph taken.

Closing date

Entries must be received by the Eastern Moors Partnership by 5pm on 31st August 2017.


Each entrant with an image used in the 2018 calendar, will receive a free copy of the calendar and a free ticket (up to the value of £5) to any Eastern Moors Partnership event in 2017/2018, subject to availability. The entrant whose submission is featured on the front page of the calendar will win two free calendars and free tickets for a family (up to two adults and three children), to any Eastern Moors events in 2017/2018 (up to the value of £5 per person), subject to availability. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash.

Competition timeline

Mid July – competition open
31st August – deadline for submissions
Wk commencing 11th September – winners informed (consents forms signed and high resolution photographs received)
November – calendars on sale.

Terms & conditions
1.1  By submitting your competition entry, you agree that you have read, understood and accepted these terms and conditions.
1.2  This competition is to have your photograph, drawing or painting selected for inclusion and therefore published within the Eastern Moors & Longshaw Calendar 2018.
1.3  This competition is open to all residents of the United Kingdom, for all ages for photography submissions, and aged 16 and under only for drawings and illustrations.
1.4  To enter the completion you must post or email your image, along with your name, address, age (if 16 or under), telephone number and an email address, location and title of image. For photographs only, you are required to state the date the photograph was taken.
1.5  Entries must be sent by post to Calendar Competition, Barbrook Cottage, Nr Owler Bar, Baslow Road, Sheffield, S17 3BQ. Or photographs emailed in low resolution format to
1.6  Entries must be received by the Eastern Moors Partnership by 31st August 2017.
1.7  The Eastern Moors Partnership accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, corrupted or fail to reach the Eastern Moors Partnership by the closing date.
1.8  The Eastern Moors Partnership cannot return entries.
1.9  Maximum two entries per person. Any further entries submitted by one person will not be accepted or judged and are ineligible to win.
1.10 During the competition period or any time thereafter, you may be required to provide original and or raw data file(s) for your image to the Eastern Moors Partnership. The partnership will contact you via your email address to request the relevant file(s).
2.1 The Eastern Moors Partnership will select a judging panel. The criteria for judging will be based on the creativity of the image, quality of the image, relevance of the image to the specified calendar competition theme, the image’s ability to create, along with other chosen images, a cohesive and saleable calendar. The judges’ decision is final.
2.2 Entrants of images selected for inclusion in the calendar will be notified by email after 11th September 2017. Entrants will be asked to complete and sign a permission form, and asked to submit (for photographs) a high resolution image of no smaller than 2551 pixels x 1789 pixels (landscape format), and for the front cover, no smaller than 2551 pixels x 3579 pixels (portrait format). If entrants of selected images do not return a completed, signed consent form and high resolution image (photographs only) by the required date, the Eastern Moors Partnership may withdraw the offer and relocate the selection to another entrant.

3.1 Each entrant with a n image used in the 2018 calendar, will receive a free copy of the calendar and a free ticket (up to the value of £5) to any Eastern Moors Partnership event in 2017/2018, subject to availability. The entrant who’s submission is featured on the front page of the calendar will win two free calendars and free tickets for a family (up to two adults and three children), to any Eastern Moors events in 2017/2018 (up to the value of £5 per person), subject to availability. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash.

3.2 Prizes are strictly non-transferable. No cash prize alternatives are available in whole or in part. Event tickets must be used by the end of 2018 and are subject to event availability. Once an event booking has been made, the booking is non-transferable unless the Eastern Moors Partnership cancels the event.

4.1 By entering this competition, you hereby confirm that your image is wholly-owned by you and nothing in the Image infringes copyright or any right of any third party. You hereby hold the Eastern Moors Partnership (NT/RSPB) harmless from any and all claims and demands arising out of or in connection with the partnership’s use of your image, including but not limited to claims related to copyright or trade mark infringement, infringement of privacy or publicity rights, defamation, infringement of moral rights and any other personal and or property rights whatsoever in any jurisdiction.
4.2 By entering this competition, you also hereby confirm that you have obtained written permission from anyone who features in your image (or the person’s parent or legal guardian, if the individual is aged under 18) to submit the image as part of your entry into the competition, prior to entry.
4.3 Entrants submitting images which are selected for inclusion in the Eastern Moors & Longshaw calendar 2018, will be asked to sign a permission form. The permission form gives consent for successful submissions to become the property of the RSPB and National Trust. They may be stored on RSPB Images, National Trust Images and by the Eastern Moors Partnership, and used by the RSPB, the National Trust and the Eastern Moors Partnership within their communication materials (including publications, interpretation, press and web) and may appear within saleable RSPB, National Trust and Eastern Moors Partnership products to raise funds for these charities, and may be made available but not sold to third party partnerships. By signing the permission form you will be accepting that you no longer own the copyright of the photograph(s).

5.1 By entering this competition, you hereby grant to the Eastern Moors Partnership a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, transferrable licence to use, edit, publish, translate, modify, adapt, make available and distribute your image, in any media now known or hereafter invented for any purpose. You undertake to complete any necessary documentation to formalise the licence upon the partnership’s request.
6.1 The personal data provided by you may be held and used by the Eastern Moors Partnership (NT/RSPB) and third party suppliers for the purposes of administering the competition only. By entering this competition and submitting personal data, you hereby consent to your personal data being stored and or processed for the aforesaid purposes.
7.1 The Eastern Moors Partnership cannot accept responsibility for any damage or loss to any image submitted for the competition.
7.2 The Eastern Moors Partnership reserves the right not to produce an Eastern Moors & Longshaw calendar 2018, or to use images from other sources if entries do not satisfy requirements enabling the production of a saleable product.
7.3 Owing to exceptional circumstances outside its reasonable control and only where circumstances make this unavoidable, the Eastern Moors Partnership reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition or these terms & conditions at any stage but will always endeavour to minimise the effect to you in order to avoid undue disappointment.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Project Poo

Why are we doing this?

Increasing numbers of people visit the countryside each year and more and more people are enjoying the benefits of inviting a dog into their family. We’re delighted so many people are enjoying the countryside whilst being aware that increased numbers of people also means increased strain on facilities, habitats and the potential for conflicts between visitors.

After an increasing number of complaints and concerns about the amount of dog poo, including from our own groups of young volunteers, unable to find a place to put down their tools and picnics, we felt this problem merited some attention. It has always been the Eastern Moors policy that dog walkers are welcome on site providing their dogs are under effective control* at all times of the year, and that poo is bagged and binned, or taken home.

Dogs are domestic visitors to the countryside, just like people, and their waste can take up to two months to degrade. Dog poo can carry a number of diseases which are potentially dangerous for wildlife, livestock, people and other dogs. One such disease, Toxocariasis can remain in ground for many years. The risk of Toxocariasis is elimated almost entirely if the poo is cleared up immediately. For more information about Toxocariasis please visit the NHS website. Another disease is Neosporosis, responsible for over 10% of abortions in livestock and can also seriously affect dogs. Please see the reference list for more information about this.

What about wildlife and livestock?

Foxes are part of the Canis (dog) family and their waste carries similar diseases including toxicaris. However a rural habitat like the Eastern Moors, supports wild fox populations at a low density with each fox roaming over a large territory.  Dogs on the other hand visit the moors in high numbers, with many of them concentrated in popular spots. This means that an unsustainable volume of waste is left on the moors if people do not clear up after their dogs. On the first “poo count” 70 poos were counted in the first 200 metres along Curbar Edge, directly either side of the path. This is also likely to be an underestimation as degraded poo was only counted if it was still unmistakably doggy.

Dog poo also has the potential to impact the character of the SSSI habitat. Nutrient-poor habitats such as heathland are particularly sensitive to the fertilising effect of inputs of phosphates, nitrogen and potassium from dog faeces. Eutrophication, the increasing of nutrients, of habitats, is recognised as a major threat to some of our best loved habitats including low-nutrient heather moorlands. The majority of this is due to atmospheric pollution deposits but the localised effects of dog poo are also documented on habitats such as heathland and chalk grasslands. It might seem like there is already a lot of other poo on the moors, however this is from livestock and wildlife which roam free, and feed on the moor, therefore  recycle nutrients consumed onsite. Whereas dogs are not part of the ecosystem so  their waste results in a net increase in the amount of nutrients onsite, potentially changing the character of the moorland habitat.   

What next?

The Eastern Moors is a special place for both people and wildlife so it is important that we protect the habitat and ensure that this remains a place that everyone enjoys visiting. Our recent visitor survey identified that half of people felt dog waste was an issue in some areas with some people feeling very strongly that this was an unpleasant problem that limited their enjoyment and the chance for their own pet or child to explore safely.

Our habitat research is ongoing, with soil samples and vegetation surveys being undertaken to investigate if dog poo is having an impact on the moorland. Biodegradable spray paint is being used to count and track the amount of poo in areas close to the car parks.

Our policy remains unchanged, dog walkers will always be welcome to enjoy this special area responsibly, keeping their dogs under close control and bag and bin the poop*. Primarily this is an issue of volume, so if we can take steps to reduce the amount of poo left on site we think this will have a big impact on people’s enjoyment. Clear signs and a code of conduct as well as bins available wherever possible could help ease the problem in hot spots near to car parks. Any action taken will be in keeping with this wild and open landscape to protect the spirit of place that makes this such a valued area.

How can you help?

Dog walkers are important guardians of this special landscape, often they are out on site earlier and later than staff and know the area inside out. Everyone visiting the countryside has not just a right to enjoy it, but a responsibility to protect it. We know that this is a responsibility dog walkers take very seriously.  

You can help us by bagging and binning your dog’s poo, especially near to car parks and main routes where an accumulation of waste can be unpleasant for other visitors. Do so also sets a precedence for other dog walkers.

*”Stick and flick” is encouraged on some woodland sites, however, due to the threat of disease to livestock which graze the Eastern Moors, and people exploring the open access land off path, we would discourage this.  

*Effective Control means within sight at all times and returning to the owner immediately when called or be kept on a lead.

Key References:

Soil phosphorus as an indicator of canine faecal pollution in urban recreation areas Carol Bonner, A.D.Q. Agnew Environmental pollution Series B, Chemical and Physical Volume 6, Issue 2, 1983 

Guildford Borough Council Draft Local Plan: strategy and sites Habitats Regulations Assessment July 2014 URS Job: 47063354 Prepared for: Guildford Borough Counci
Impacts of trampling and dog fouling on vegetation and soil conditions on Headley Heath. SHAW, P.J.A., LANKEY, K., & HOLLINGHAM, S.A. 1995. The London Naturalist, 74, 77-82

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Well done Youth Rangers!

Youth Rangers never turn their nose up at a job. No task is too muddy, too wet or too much hard work, as long as it’s for nature. During 2016 Youth Rangers have got stuck into their usual programme of conservation work including ditch blocking, bird box building, woodland work, car park improvements and ecology surveys. As well as this they’ve shared their enthusiasm, helping out at events such as the annual Bolving competition and participating in the Stanage Youth Forum.

Studies have shown that children are innately interested in nature, indeed they are fascinated by it. And that for them to remain connected to nature, all they need is successive, momentary experiences within it. Sadly the distractions of growing up in a modern technologically based world means that many young people lose interest in nature when they reach secondary school age. On the Eastern Moors we aim to support a journey of involvement, providing fun, age appropriate ways to become actively involved with nature conservation, whatever their age or ability. Three young people joined Youth Rangers this September having previously taken part in the Junior Ranger programme – our rewards programme for volunteers aged Under 18. A number of our Youth Rangers have also joined us to further their experiences through work placements from school including Sam, a Youth Ranger who is now joining us during the week for further volunteering and training before he starts his Zoology degree and hopefully progresses into a conservation career!

It is now possible to be involved with the Eastern Moors right from aged two as a “Ranger Tot”, through to Junior Rangers, Youth Rangers, Work Placements and all the way up to adulthood as one of our valued volunteers.

To recognise their achievement and commitment to helping nature, this year the Youth Ranger group participated in the John Muir Award.  Eighteen young people gained their John Muir Award with several more achieving the Peak Park Award. Both awards recognise a commitment to discover, explore, conserve and share your love of a “wild” place.

 Here’s what a few of them had to say about their experience of volunteering this year...

This year I have enjoyed each session tremendously, but my personal favourite has been the tree felling since it is a very technical skill with alot of theory to do before the tree is felled. I also enjoyed the adder spotting walk as it allowed me to see something that is very rare to see and to appreciate animal habitats and how we can respect them.

-          Dominic

In Youth Rangers this year I have enjoyed everything from bracken bashing to the Stanage trip but mostly I have enjoyed being with good, kind, people whose strong wills and love for the natural world around us is second to none. I learnt that even the coldest and darkest days can’t stop the will of determined mind and that whatever the weather throws at us we keep going.

-          Sam

In the Youth Ranger group this year I have enjoyed all of the sessions, but my particular favourites have been tree felling and meadow surveying at Curbar Gap, and bird ringing early in the year. As always, this year I have learnt a lot about the environment that surrounds me and how the delicate balances between humans and the natural world create the Moors and its ecosystem.

I always look forward to the Ranger sessions, as they allow me to leave behind the stress of school for a few hours and let me indulge in what I love: being outside and conservation work. I like the Rangers that run the sessions, and feel as if I have gained many friends with common interests as myself. We always have a great time, and are always guaranteed to learn something new. I especially love the winter sessions, as not only do we get hot chocolate, it is magical to be out on the Moors during the winter seasons.

-          Ella

The Youth Rangers are a fantastic team and an absolute joy to work with – even when they annihilate the biscuits before the leaders get so much as a sniff! We’re looking forward to 2017 when they will be volunteering to plant trees, repair paths and get very mucky as the help take care of a special place for people and wildlife.

If you know or are a young person with a passion for nature then please get in touch with You can also find out more about volunteering for all on our website:


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Leaving the winter behind...

The curlews are bubbling overhead, the first ring ouzels of the year have been spotted on Burbage, and skylarks are filling the air with their melodic musings; it can only mean one thing...Spring is on it's way.

The shifting of the seasons has got us all in reflective mood here at the Eastern Moors, and we’ve been looking back over some of our winter woodland work...
One of many new bird boxes around the Eastern Moors Estate and Burbage
In the last few years we’ve put up well over a hundred new bird boxes in the woodlands of Curbar, Froggatt, Birchen and Surprise View. These are targeting pied flycatcher and redstart, but in all likelihood will be used by a host of other species; blue tit, great tit, and nuthatch. The reason for choosing these woodlands to put up bird boxes is because of the lack of veteran trees, which contain the cracks, holes and crevices that our native birds favour.
Some of the Youth Rangers proudly display their handiwork
The boxes have been a real team effort. The flat-packs were made by members of our Thursday volunteer group, and were built by the Eastern Moors Youth Rangers and CVQO, an education charity designed to recognise the work undertaken by young people and adult volunteers. They were put up by the warden team, again with the help of some of our practical volunteers. So, all in all, a real team effort!
 We’ve also put up a barn owl box on Leash Fen. Barn owls need rough grassland and plenty of voles to maintain a healthy population. But they also need a place to raise young. In the past there were plenty of old barns, and hollow, ancient trees. Nowadays they need all the help they can get.
This barn owl box is a new edition to the estate
Another bird that needs our help is the merlin. The UK’s smallest bird of prey, their population has declined alarmingly since the mid 1900s. Merlin generally nest on the ground in the UK, but have been known to nest in trees on the edge of moorland, often in abandoned crows nests. With advice from the South Yorkshire Raptor Group, we’ve put some nests up in locations where we know they have bred historically, in the hope that they move back in.

The nesting material for merlin nests was gathered into bundles...

...and the Youth Rangers did the rest.

Woodland work

Boxes are great for a quick fix. But long term, our aim is to develop a rich habitat which doesn’t rely on them. Instead, mature trees will provide the natural nesting holes that birds seek.
It’s for this reason that we’ve been busy with other woodland work. Winching trees over creates a rootplate microhabitat, and also creates an immediate “understory”; a layer of tree cover at a height lower than that of the canopy. Having vegetation at a variety of different heights throughout the woodland is great for supporting the needs of different flora and fauna.
Winching over trees mimics natural wind-throw and creates an important microhabitat.
We have been felling trees too. This creates light and space to enable young trees to regenerate naturally. It also gives some of the more mature trees the chance to “breathe” and spread out; making sure that we have large specimen trees for future generations of people and wildlife to enjoy. Woodland glades and rides are good for bats that hunt in woodland clearings too, and also species like pied flycatcher and redstart.
Pied Flycatcher - coming to a wood near you soon.
We’ve been avoiding “tidying up” the woodland as we go. Deadwood is brilliant for wildlife, so we have left as much as possible, either standing (for woodpeckers, beetles, etc) and fallen (for fungi, compost). Not only that, we’ve been stem injecting trees to create even more deadwood. Birds like willow tit, who have also suffered huge declines due to habitat loss and the intensification of agriculture, need deadwood to excavate their nests in. Just one of the many species that we hope to help through our woodland management.
We’ll be continuing to monitor the impacts of our work on woodland bird populations this year, thanks to our Woodland Bird Count volunteers. With a bit of luck, our resident birds, along with those arriving from overseas, will be able to call the Eastern Moors home this year, and for many years to come.