During our recent visit to Cheshire, we went to explore the meres in the Hunger Hill area of Delamere Forest, just to the north of Blakemere. Leaving the lane from Barnes Bridge gates, we went down to the small secluded mere tucked between the switchback road and the western end of Blakemere. Previously we had only seen this from the lane but we wanted to get down there for a closer look.
Carefully, we negotiated our way across the top end of this boggy area.
Having climbed above the mere at the far side, we then descended into another hollow where a very different scene presented itself:
It is may not be the most picturesque part of the Forest right now. Just a devastated hollow with all the trees felled and looking pretty bleak but I found it really exciting. Right down there in the centre you can see what is happening. This is the main drainage ditch which was dug a couple of centuries ago to reclaim the ancient peatbog in an ill-starred attempt to gain land for much-needed timber for rebuilding the naval fleet after the Napoleonic War. A major act of eco-vandalism, really, which is now being put right.
Using cut down scrub and barriers like the one in the distance here, the ditches are dammed and nature is left to re-assert itself. Already this ditch is filling up and it will not be long until this water draining into the moss and being retained recreates a renewed mere where the old wetland created by the retreating age used to be.
It felt quite strange to think that we had come upon this part of the restoration project almost by chance and were able to walk through the hollow from one side to the other. That was the last chance we would ever have. When we come back in the spring, the place from where I took these photos will be underwater and another mere will have been handed back to the wildfowl and the dragonflies.