Together with our seasoned volunteer Brian, Kate and I spent a day travelling to the National Trust’s Marsden Moor estate last week, near Huddersfield in Yorkshire. We were there to lend a hand, using flagstones to create a footpath across the moor at Black Moss…
At Marsden Moor the National Trust cares for over 5,500 acres of unenclosed moorland. Footpath improvements have been one of the major tasks over the past few years here, including long sections of flag-laying along the Pennine Way which cuts through the estate.
The stone flags are periodically airlifted to site by helicopter and the path is created by laying the stones on the ground, literally ‘floating’ over peaty or boggy ground. It’s a little tricky, as some of the individual stones, or ‘flags’, can weigh up to a tonne each! A four person team is needed using rollers, wedges, and bars to lever the flags into position. All flags are butted up to each other lengthways if possible with some needing additional support underneath using extra ‘clapper’ flags in particularly boggy areas.
The same method was used to construct traditional Packhorse tracks and Pannier ways in the Pennines and adjacent areas such as the North York Moors. These frequently date back two to three hundred years, although some are much older, and flag paths are landscape features in themselves.
It was a muddy affair, but all part of the fun of the day!
And despite it being a dreek day, we had a pleasant midday fly-by from a flock of Pink-footed geese – later finding out that these same birds had made their way to Morecambe Bay.
Well and truly knackered, but happy, at the end of the day…