Blawhorn Moss and Flanders Moss NNR
Both Flanders Moss and Blawhorn Moss are wonderful, wild and ancient landscapes but neither are pristine or untouched. Though both are as fine as an example of a raised bog to be found in Scotland, both have had considerable efforts made to drain or remove them. In fact there is no bog left in Scotland that is completely undamaged. To get an idea of what happens to the water table within a peat bog when parts are cut or drained watch the following short film produced by the IUCN Peatlands team, it is excellent at explaining what is going on.
Of course, this is a simplified version of a raised bog showing only one uniform dome of peat. At Blawhorn Moss there seems to be one dome of peat that has overflowed a bowl where it formed and spread down the hill. It is an unusual form of peatland that has been damaged through surface drains across virtually the whole surface and peat cut from some of the edges.
At Flanders Moss about about 40% of the original bog has been completely removed and parts of the remaining bog has had ditches and conifer plantations damaging the surface. Flanders Moss is now made up of 3 domes and the remains of 1 or 2 others. It is hard to know just how many domes there originally were but the video above will give you some idea of how the removals of parts of the bog will have affected the groundwater mound. This dropping of the water table is what will have caused the peat pipes and sink or cauldron holes written about here.
Below is a map showing how Flanders Moss shrunk is size as peat was cut around the edges. The green areas are what is left today with the boundary of the nature reserve marked with a black line. I often think of Flanders today being like an apple core. It is just the indigestible or hard to clear bits that are left.
And below is the topographical map of Flanders showing the height contours of the moss. The overall site is marked by the blue line – it is roughly circular so looks like it is one dome. But the contours (dark red the highest ground through orange, yellow, green to white showing the lowest ground). The tops of the domes of peat, or remains of domes, are marked with red dots.
Wild and wonderful though the site is today, when I look at these maps I always have a sadness of never getting to see the place in its undamaged state when it stretched for miles. What a place it must have been.