The iconic landscape of the Roaches, beloved by walkers and climbers alike needs some help this autumn and you can get involved.
Working alongside the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) which manages the estate on a long term lease, we have planned a crag clean-up on Saturday 4 November from 10am-3pm to remove as much rhododendron as possible from behind the Don Whillans Memorial Hut, which sits under the Roaches Lower Tier and is managed by the BMC.
How can I help?
We’ll be meeting at 10am at Roaches Gate (grid reference SK 005 620) just by the lay-by car parking for a briefing and shortly after setting off up the hill to begin work. SWT are providing all tools and PPE for groundwork, but if you have your own gardening/work gloves bring them along. The majority of work will be ground level, but there are a few areas of the rock face itself which hold small rhododendron seedlings we hope to remove to prevent damage to the rock. This will need a small number of self-sufficient and experienced climbers, happy to rig their own abseils to access these seedlings and pull them out – if you’re happy doing this please bring along the appropriate kit.
Why is the work needed?
This work will not only help to open up the crag and improve conditions on the rock, but also stop this invasive species spreading and shading out the native moorland species that form a key part of the SSSI to Roaches sits within. Rhododendron is a very effective competitor to our native flora quickly shading out almost everything else, as well as leaving toxic soil layer and being toxic to livestock. This means it can’t be managed by grazing, is spreading and taking over native moorland habit and that’s bad news for the crag and the wider environment.
What happens afterwards?
We’ll be burning all the material cut on the day on raised metal sheeting (to prevent ground damage) in the grounds of the Whillans Hut. Due to the toxicity of the soil left after rhododendron has been removed, the ground it was previously covering will likely look quite bare for a while after until native species are able to re-establish themselves. The aim is to return the area behind the hut to moorland habitat as found elsewhere on the estate but this will take some time.
So if you’re a fan of the iconic landscape and world class climbing the Roaches offers and want to help SWT and the BMC look after it, come along on the 4th November at 10am and you will be rewarded with not only a warm feeling inside but plenty of cake too. See you there!
The Access and Conservation Trust
The BMC's charity – the BMC Access & Conservation Trust – promotes sustainable access to cliffs, mountains and open countryside by facilitating education and conservation projects across the United Kingdom and Ireland.
By educating climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy outdoor recreation while minimising their impact on the landscape, conserving the UK’s upland resources, and campaigning for improved access rights, ACT enables future generations to continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the physical, mental and social benefits they bring to individual lives and society in general.
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