Transition Wilmslow and Lindow Moss
Realising the potential; how Transition Wilmslow envisages the restored landscape.
We would like to see a restored landscape close to that which nature intended. This would be a rain nourished landscape with carpets of green and gold Sphagnum moss, once again capturing and locking away carbon from the atmosphere. The regenerating mire would be interspersed by heathland and fen, with the whole surrounded by fringing woodlands.
But this would also be a landscape for people. Visitors would enjoy the tranquillity and biological richness of the scene. They would stand in awe close to the spot where Lindow Man was sacrificed and entombed in an earlier Sphagnum mire. They would marvel at the huge pine stumps anchored in peat, relics of the Mesolithic forest that preceded him. They would reflect on the passage of time and the changing relationship between humankind and nature, and think about the challenges that lie ahead in a new era of rapid climate change.
What May Change on the Moss?
We all know that the planning application for the development of the Moss is still awaited.
Transition Wilmslow reluctantly supported the development because we felt it was the one way which we thought would lead to what we all want: proper restoration of the Moss. We know that this is a contentious and difficult issue, and none of us really want to be in this position at all, but to us it felt like a “least worst” option. Our arguments are set out in our response to the application which you can see in the article below this.
We are offering you a unique opportunity to really find out what changes we may see on the Moss if planning permission is granted. Professor John Handley is running a site visit to the Moss, to take you to exactly where the buildings are proposed, and to show you how the surrounding area may change.
Whether you were for or against the planning application, this will be a very interesting visit.
DATE: Saturday June 11th 2016
TIME: 10am prompt
DURATION: 2.5 hours
CLOTHING: prepare for wet and mud!
WHERE: far end of Strawberry Lane, off Moor Lane, Wilmslow
Lindow Moss issues in 2016
Transition Wilmslow responded positively to the two interlinked planning applications on Lindow Moss:
The main concern at present is the long delay in determining the applications. In the interim, peat extraction seems to have continued apace.
Transition Wilmslow held an open meeting in March 2016 about Lindow Moss. There were updates from John Handley, from Transition Wilmslow, Joe Pimblett from Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Tony Evans from Saltersley Moss Preservation Society.
There was considerable concern from everyone present about the current state of Lindow Moss, and the continued peat cutting which is now exposing underlying sand in some places. The planning application for housing is due to be heard on 20th April 2016, and it was generally felt that there is little that we can do before then, except to continue to raise the issue of the Moss and its importance to our local environment with CEC.
Transition Wilmslow did write to our MP, George Osborne, in December 2015 expressing concern about the state of the Moss. The letter can be viewed here We received a reply in April 2016 saying “I have received the following statement from CEC Planning department in respect of your concerns about Lindow Moss: ‘The Council is well aware of issues being raised by local residents regarding this site and the matter is with our local planning department who are ensuring that due process is followed’. I hope that this explains the current position…”
Transition Wilmslow is planning a number of awareness raising activities about the Moss including an exhibition at the Wilmslow Show 10 July 2016, a Saturday walk on the Mobberley section of the Moss in the summer, and a repeat of our very memorable Dawn Walk on the Moss in August.
We hope to organise a children’s art competition to encourage awareness among young people of the importance of the landscape on their doorstep, (more details to come!) but we thought people might be interested to know how peat bogs have inspired Irish artists: See here
Progress since the Lindow Moss Workshop
During the months following the Lindow Moss Workshop, Transition Wilmslow have worked with their partners to raise the profile of the Lindow Moss landscape, and to prepare the way for implementing the Lindow Moss partnership. This has involved:
- Lindow Moss exhibition at the Wilmslow Show (13.7.14)
- A Dawn Walk (2.8.14) with readings and a commemorative ceremony (by the Green Seed Group) to mark the 40th anniversary of the discovery of Lindow Man, Britain’s first almost intact bog body, in August, 1984
- A Day School held in association with the Wilmslow Guild (18.10.14) to explore the ontogeny, archaeological significance and prospects for restoration of Lindow Moss
- A Guided walk around Lindow Moss linked to the Day School with support from Cheshire East Ranger Service
- Submission of written evidence to the Inspector and participation in the Examination in public of the Cheshire East Local Plan (25.09.14), arguing for proper recognition of the Lindow Moss landscape in the Local Plan and its designation as a Green infrastructure Asset
- An exhibition on the Lindow Moss landscape in partnership with the Wilmslow Library, (December 14 – January 15) and book display, with a public lecture by Brian Sitch, Curator of Archaeology at Manchester Museum, on ‘Interpreting Lindow Man, The Manchester Museum Experience’
This programme of events attracted a high level of participation and generated associated press and media coverage. The Metropolitan University of Manchester and the University of Manchester were heavily involved in the Day School and Guided Walk and they are happy to form a Scientific Advisory Group to provide expert guidance on realising the Lindow Moss Vision and to realise the full potential of the area for research and education. Subsequent to presenting evidence at the Local Plan, Cheshire East Council encouraged Transition Wilmslow, together with Cheshire Wildlife Trust, to prepare the case for Lindow Moss as a Nature Improvement Area and to present that case to the Local Nature Partnership. This could potentially be the vehicle for formalising the Lindow Moss Partnership.
During 2015 Transition Wilmslow and their partners, the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, will take forward the following:
- Develop proposals for Lindow Moss as a Local Nature Improvement Area and present to the Cheshire and Warrington Local Nature Partnership;
- Continue to press for proper recognition of the Lindow Moss landscape in the Cheshire East Local Plan, for example as a designated Green Infrastructure Asset;
- Consider and respond to a planning application for housing (submitted Jan, 2015), and associated proposal to restore and manage the cut-over peat bog as a wildlife habitat. Whilst this proposal would require housing development in a Green Belt location, it could provide an exit strategy for peat working;
- Resist planning applications for development which would damage the integrity of the mossland landscape and/or prejudice key access routes into the area;
- Establish a Scientific Advisory Group for Lindow Moss drawing on expertise at Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Manchester and the Manchester Museum, to provide expert guidance and to help realise the full potential of the area for research and education;
- Ensure that material which is critical to the interpretation and understanding of landscape history (for example the sub-fossil pine) is recorded and conserved during peatland restoration/ongoing working;
- Establish contact with the British Museum (the ‘home’ of Lindow Man), with a view to engaging them, together with Manchester Museum, in debveloping an integrated programme of interpretation which links the Lindow Moss landscape to Lindow Man and his story;
- Seek to engage Chorley Parish Council and Mobberley Parish Council through, for example, offering the Lindow Moss exhibition for display on their premises;
- Work towards formalising the Lindow Moss partnership, perhaps through the vehicle of a Local Nature Improvement Area;
- Continue to engage the wider public through profile raising activity and media coverage through the Transition Wilmslow ‘Comms Group’.
This work programme will be taken forward by the Lindow Moss Working Group of Transition Wilmslow in association with Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the Saltersley Common Preservation Society.
‘Grass Roots Giving’: Update
Thanks to all who voted for us in our bid to win funding in the Skipton Building Society’s ‘Grass Roots Giving’ community programme. We were successful!
We are grateful to Skipton’s generosity, enabling us to follow up the successful Lindow Moss Day School at Wilmslow Guild with an exhibition at Wilmslow Library. This is showing on the gallery during Library opening hours until Saturday 31 January 2015.
The exhibition launches Transition Wilmslow’s ‘A New Vision for Lindow Moss’, highlighting its historic and environmental importance. It is one of the most significant peatland landscapes in Britain, yet it remains abused, neglected and officially unrecognised.
Transition Wilmslow and our partners are coming together as the Lindow Moss Partnership, and creating a vision to restore, conserve, and celebrate this unique landscape.
Why not take a break from your shopping, enjoy the warmth of Wilmslow Library and learn more about Transition Wilmslow and our Vision for Lindow Moss!
See the report on the Day School at http://tinyurl.com/ofue6fu
Wilmslow Library opening times here http://tinyurl.com/prlqesp
Pressure is growing for urgent action to be taken to preserve and restore Lindow Moss and provide a fitting memorial to Lindow Man, following a recent day school on “Lindow Moss: Origins and Future Prospects”. The event was organised by Transition Wilmslow and the Wilmslow Guild on 18th October. Photographs taken by Garry Kershaw, Heather Calderbank and Ali Berry.
Over 60 people including local residents and students from the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University were absorbed by contributions from a range of experts including Rick Turner, the former Cheshire County Council Archaeologist who found Lindow Man 30 years ago this year.
There was a special guest keeping watch over proceedings in the form of a reconstructed bronze head of Lindow Man which was kindly loaned for the day.
Presentations covered the evolution and history of Lindow Moss and the processes that could be used to restore the area which is currently used for peat extraction. Several speakers underlined why the restoration of this historic, ecologically important and recreation friendly local asset is now critical. During lunch attendees were able to explore exhibitions by local groups including a display from Wilmslow Library on local maps, books and other reference material; and experience, firsthand, investigative techniques such as peat coring, and pollen analysis.
Rick Turner, in an inspirational and amusing talk, recounted his involvement in the discovery of Lindow Man from his first telephone call from a local newspaper reporter through to his work with the British Museum on the exhumation, examination and preservation of his body. He reminded us of the local and wider significance of Lindow Man. It was an archaeological discovery of international significance, with some of the forensic techniques used to investigate him now evident in CSI Miami and Silent Witness! In his concluding comments Rick made an impassioned plea for Lindow Moss to be returned to an area that Lindow Man would recognise.
Attendees also heard from a volunteer on the restored Whixall Moss in Shropshire. His pride in what they had achieved in providing a valuable resource for local residents was evident to all.
Professor John Handley from Transition Wilmslow, who chaired the day school, thanked all speakers and presenters for their insight into the past and future of Lindow Moss. He emphasised the importance of Lindow Moss for its ecological importance both locally and as part of a wider network of mosses in the North West but also as a means of reducing carbon emissions and its importance to local residents. He urged that the momentum to restore the moss not be lost.
The overall mood of the day was aptly captured in the words of one contributor “Peat extraction has left little of the original peatland. We must act soon. Today has shown that there is head of steam from local people, agencies and academic institutions to restore this area. It is an enormous opportunity which we must grasp”
Transition Wilmslow’s Dawn Walk on Lindow Moss: A summary …
On 2nd August, we organised a Dawn Walk last weekend to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the discovery of Lindow Man, Britain’s first bog body, in Wilmslow. We started out in darkness by the lake, where David Reynolds from Wilmslow Green Room read a piece about Llyn Dhu, The Black Lake, and then walked on to the Moss as the dawn broke. After more readings by the site of the peat cutting, we walked to the bog pools to be met by druids from the Wildwood Seed group, who led a dramatic and evocative druid celebration of Lindow Man and the generations of people who lived , worked and, in the case of Lindow Man, died on the Moss. A wreath, made by Jean Hill from willow, reeds and wild flowers growing on the Moss, was then placed in a bog pool similar to the one where Lindow man’s body was deposited after his death.
The druid celebration was really dramatic and moving, pointing out the importance of caring for our environment, and the effect that our collective carelessness has had on this very special landscape. The Wildwood group had brought water from local and distant rivers which they mixed in a bowl, and then poured on to the Moss as an act of healing: very apt, as it will be restoration of the water levels that will be key in the restoration of the Moss.
We walked back towards the town in the early morning light, stopped for another reading by David Reynolds, and then repaired to the Friends Meeting House for a congenial and much needed breakfast. It was a really memorable and very special day. Particular thanks are due to John Handley for leading the walk and preparing the readings, to Paul Hughes from the CEC Rangers Service, to the Wildwood Seed Group, to David Reynolds and Jill Ollerenshaw from the Green Room, and many Transition Wilmslow members who helped with the organisation and publicity for the event.
Lindow Man also made it to the BBC World Service “Witness” Programme (where Rick Turner, who discovered Lindow Man, was interviewed): http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/witness/witness_20140806-0750a.mp3,
And a guest blog post on the Manchester Museum blog: http://lindowmanchester.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/809/
A further piece of work written by Rick Turner about the day he found Lindow Man is available here: Lindow Man Thirty Years On
Lindow Moss Dawn Walk: Report and photos
Lindow Moss is a site of immense archeological and ecological significance, and Transition Wilmslow is at the centre of an exciting venture to restore it as a place of recreation, exercise and learning for local people. As part of a series of events to raise awareness of the importance of the Moss, we had a Dawn walk on the 2nd August led by John Handley. As well as evocative readings about the Moss and Lindow Man, we joined the Wildwood seed group in their moving celebration of our Bog Ancestors, the people who lived and died on the Moss.
Photographs from the Lindow Moss dawn walk taken by Chris Hill.
Next up is our Day School at Wilmslow Guild on 18th October! If you are interested in helping with the Lindow Moss work, please contact us.
A New Vision for Lindow Moss – the “Bog Warriors”1 are marching forward
On Thursday 3rd April, Transition Wilmslow hosted a workshop at the Quaker Meeting House in Wilmslow to bring people together and discuss a new way forward for Lindow Moss. Over 50 people attended, from local councillors, to English Heritage, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Manchester Museum, Environment Agency, and other interested parties. Together we agreed on a New Vision for Lindow Moss:
- Cessation of peat extraction and restoration of the peat working area to create an attractive natural habitat and to re-establish it as a carbon sink
- Protection of the wider Lindow Moss landscape
- Creation of an area where flora and fauna (including native water voles) can flourish and be appreciated
- An area for recreation and exercise for all ages (on foot and where possible, bicycle, horseback and wheelchair)
- An educational resource where the rich natural and human history of the Moss, including Lindow Man, can be studied and appreciated
- A local green tourism destination bringing economic developments to the Wilmslow area
- Promotion of the Moss area as a green infrastructure asset and lung for Wilmslow.
After a welcome by Professor Anthony Jones, Professor John Handley talked about the formation of the Moss (a much bigger area than that known as Lindow Common), and how the exploitation of the peat for fuel from the Middle Ages onwards created distinctive field boundaries called moss ‘rooms’. He described it as
“One of the best preserved landscapes of its type in Britain and yet, astonishingly, it is not protected by designation of any kind.”
Tony Evans, Chair of the Saltersley Common Preservation Society (covering Lindow Moss), also addressed the group. We learned about the apparent infringements on the planning conditions by the peat extraction companies, leading to a lowering of the water table, and effects including near-disappearance of wildlife such as water voles, and subsidence of houses in the area.
Groups looked at education, landscape restoration and heritage, access and usage, and ecology to identify possible steps to restore the Moss and were reminded that this year is the 30th anniversary of the finding of Lindow Man. The building buzzed with lively conversation.
By stopping the peat extraction the moss could recover and what Prof Handley called ‘keystone species’ could re-colonize the wet areas. The workshop established that Lindow Moss is a key link in the chain of lowland bog habitats, which connects Shropshire to the south with the Mersey Basin to the north. If rare plants, animals such as water voles, and birds and insects returned, the moss could become a centre for bio-diversity, eco-tourism and education, as well as valuable carbon capture as it would absorb more greenhouse gases than it is emitting.
In the meantime, the main actions from the workshop were to start an all-party dialogue to engage the Council further and the peat extraction licence-holders, and to devise a calendar of profile-raising events, starting with marking the discovery of Lindow Man, 30 years ago on the 2nd August. More from Bryan Sitch’s blog.
The workshop was facilitated by Florence Collier, with thanks to Arup.
The full report can be downloaded here: 140403_1st Stakeholder Workshop Report_Final.
1 Lindow and The Bog Warriors, by Matthew Hyde and Christine Pemberton (2002)