Flanders Moss NNR
Knowing Flanders Moss’s past is important so we can understand why it is like it is now. Part of its history were the efforts put in to try to get rid of it. For 100 years landowners cut, burned and flushed peat away. In a previous blog post I wrote about the Ballangrew dam (see here ) where a large dam was built to hold water that could be used to flush away the cut peat.
And then Ralph, one of our fabulous volunteers who lives on the edge of Flanders sent me some maps showing exactly how the landowners found a water source to fill the dam. A stream in the ground of Cardross estate was diverted with the new course being dug by hand, the was before mechanical diggers) about 1100 meters through the woods and across the fields to take water to the Dam. An amazing effort when you think about it, a mixture of clever engineering and hard work that showed how keen they were to accumulate water.
The 1862 map below shows the grounds of Cardross Estate with Flanders Moss lying to the right, just off the map. The stream leaving the upper of the 2 ponds is the new water course that had been created to fill Ballangrew dam.
But more interesting is that Ralph pointed out that the water course could still be seen today though it no longer carries much water. Below is the recent OS map that shows the same woodland and 2 ponds. The man made stream, marked by the red arrow can be seen flowing through the wood, following the contours across the fields and into Flanders Moss.
But you only get an idea of the work involved when you walk it on the ground. Below shows the man-made ditch running through the woodland.
Here below the ditch runs away from you but at some time either by natural erosion or human actions the wall of the man made ditch has broken and water flowing right down to the natural stream.
The amount of excavation is quite impressive and can be seen below as the ditch goes through thick rhodi. bushes.
At one point the side of the ditch needed strengthening so a retaining wall was built but over time the bank has given way and the walling has slid down the slope. The remains of the wall, covered in moss, can be seen here.
As the ditch comes out of the wood it becomes a dry groove running across the fields. When I pointed it out to the farmer he said that he had often wondered what that ditch was about as it never ran with water. Well know he knows.
The length and size of the ditch is a clear example of just how much effort landowners were prepared to put in to bring more water to the moss to help to get rid of the cut peat. In a way it mirrors the lengths we go with dams, and excavators to save and restore the moss these days. It seems that the size and extent of Flanders Moss has always stirred people to go to great lengths all through history. It is just that type of place.
Many thanks to Ralph for the maps and for pointing out this feature in the first place.