Hello readers! I’m Hannah, a researcher from the University of York. Were you aware that many of you are lucky enough to have the largest peat-bog in England right on your door steps?
Coming from ‘down south’ I had never visited Hatfield and Thorne Moors until recently when I started working with Natural England to help monitor the impact of the on-going restoration work on local people. My mission is to find out how you use and value the Moors. Is it for recreation, heritage, wildlife, scenic beauty or something else? And what do you enjoy the most about your visits? To try get people thinking about these important questions, I have been running a series public engagement activities on the Moors.
To kick start 2017, the team at Flying Futures helped me to run a ‘Photo-Quest’ on Hatfield Moors where local people were let loose and asked to document anything they did or saw of interest using a camera and a GPS. The idea was that people could use their camera lens to help find features of interest and explore their perspectives and preferences attached to this unusual landscape. Despite the near freezing conditions, many people got involved and were more than happy to share their views – perhaps a testament to how much these visitors love the Moors?
I was blown away by people’s enthusiasm. One participant commented that “the lake was so quiet and peaceful – such a contrast to home life! It’s important to us that the kids appreciate nature and it’s an activity we all enjoy. The fact that this place is on our doorstep (and free) is fantastic!” It was clear that many people were attached to the reserve and had a favourite route or spot. One gentleman told of a special place “where our whole family likes to sit and chat and admire the view.”
I am extremely grateful to everyone who took part and helped to make the activity a huge success and, of course, to Flying Futures for their fantastic support. Later on in the year, the photos will be exhibited at a public workshop to encourage local people to share more of their views about the Moors and how we can be doing more to make them a place that you and your family want to keep visiting. The information collected will also be used to make a map of meaningful places and features in the landscape.
In the meantime, I hope many more of you will be tempted to join me on the next ‘Photo-Quest’ which will be run as part of Hatfield Open Day on Sunday 26th February. This will be a fantastic opportunity for you to explore and discover more about this unique environment and learn how to use a GPS. Bring along your own camera or smart phone and I’ll provide the rest!
Hannah Curzon, PhD Researcher, University of York.