I have just read your recent blog on the Peak District and the National Trust, and I am afraid it has made me cry. I think they are partly tears of sorrow and partly of hope against hope that what you write about could be true. I love the Peak District. It is now my home but as a child growing up in South Yorkshire it was our escape. It is where I saw my first, well, pretty much everything really, guided by the gentle, expert knowledge of my father. Hen harriers, peregrines, merlins, short eared owls, goshawks, black darters, green hairstreak butterflies, green tiger beetles, ring ouzels, golden plovers, ravens – the list could become very long, and he showed me them all. He was one of the Sodden 570, standing in the rain amongst the hills he knew like the back of his hand. Sadly he was no longer with us for the 2nd Hen Harrier Day, but even when he was very poorly he was asking about “news on the hen harrier front” and “What do you think the National Trust should do with the moorland?” He had a pretty high opinion of you too, by the way!
Your book Inglorious had the same effect on me with its descriptions of seeing harriers and I very nearly wrote to you then, but held back because it seemed a bit strange and I am basically a pretty private person. The moors are a fantastic place, a place where you often will not see much, but when you do you can pretty much guarantee it will be something special. It breaks my heart that there is so much destruction going on up there, that it seems to be getting worse not better, and that the people who should be protecting the landscape and its wildlife are not doing so effectively.
You are doing a brilliant job, Mark. Please keep going. There are a lot of us out here fighting too, but we need someone like you to spur us on. I hope one day the storm clouds will clear and that the “Sunlit Uplands” will indeed shine through in the Peak District.
God willing, I will be there for the 3rd Hen Harrier Day, and as many as it takes.