Shanks’s Pony

P1050347Flanders Moss NNR

Working at Flanders Moss has its challenges. And one of them is getting around on the site. Basically it is like a giant blancmange, about the size of 2200 football pitches with the blancmange being about 4-5 metres deep and the consistency of muddy water. So getting machinery out on the site is tricky. It usually can only be specialist (and expensive) low-ground pressure machinery and even then movement has to be minimized to make sure the fragile surface isn’t damaged.

So in the end the only machine we use regularly on the site is an ‘iron horse’. This is a rather dramatic name is for what is really a motorized, low ground pressure tracked wheel barrow. So while other reserve managers are busy upgrading their quad bikes and argo cats to electrical Polaris and other fancy machines, at Flanders we are still on foot.

But we don’t mind (well, mostly). Being on foot keeps you fit. In fact as our volunteers know, walking on the moss is very hard work and keeps you very fit (one day we will develop a bog fitness video)!  But also when you are on foot you see so much more. You can get closer to the deer, hen harriers won’t shy away when hunting, snipe and jack snipe flush from close to your feet and ravens come to check on you to see what you are up to. You also get a feel for how wet the site is and how the carpet of sphagnum moss is recovering.

The important thing is that if you are on shanks’s pony then you should be well shod. So only the best wellies necessary for all that bog walking (line manager please note)!

Shank’s pony.  The expression — believed to be Scottish in origin — derives from shanks’ nag (shanks-naig 1774), referring to the use of shank to refer to the part of the human leg between the knee and ankle.






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