Red Moss supports one of the world's rarest and most remarkable habitats. Pollen analysis has revealed the first peat deposits of the northwest's mosslands to be from around 8000 years BC making Red Moss an impressive 10,000 years old. Mosslands used to be common in the Northwest, the high rainfall being ideal for this wetland habitat. However, in Lancashire since 1840, 99% of mossland habitat has been destroyed; mainly due to changes in agriculture and forestry and most recently the increase of commercial extraction of peat from sites.
It is now certain that lowland mossland in the British Isles with significant nature conservation value cover less than 10,000 ha (5% of the area that existed in 1850). The loss of mosslands worldwide is so extensive that European guidelines stress that any peatland capable of restoration is considered to be of European Importance.
Mosslands are wetland areas that are waterlogged the whole year round and are fed purely from rainfall. The wet, acid conditions found within mosslands provides a harsh environment that only a few specialised species can tolerate. Mosslands therefore provide a home to a range of plant species that can be found no-where else. Birds and Insects also flourish on the mossland areas. The wet ditches and cuttings, providing ideal breeding and feeding areas for dragonflies and damselflies, and birds such the Tree Pipit, Lapwing, Snipe, Teal and Short-eared Owl. England's entire mossland habitat has been altered due to peat extraction and dewatering and many species have been lost.
Red moss is no exception and has lost a number of characteristic species such as Bog Asphodel and Bog Rosemary and Sundews. However, Red Moss still represents one of the largest areas of cutover mossland in the region. 11 species of Bog Mosses can also be found on Red Moss. Peat Formation Peatlands, mires, mosses and fens - what are they and how do we tell the difference between them? The multitude of terms and inconsistencies in their definitions complicates any attempt to study peatlands. To clarify the situation and reflect the accepted terms used in recent European literature, we will use the following definitions of these keywords throughout this site;
* Peatland - an area with a naturally accumulated peat layer at the surface * Mire - a peatland where peat is currently forming and accumulating
* Moss - a peatland which receives water solely from rain and/or snow falling on its surface
* Fen - a peatland which receives water and nutrients from the soil, rock and groundwater as well as rain and/or snow
The simple definition of a peatland is an area where peat is found. Peat, or turf as it is often called in Ireland, is a type of soil that contains a high proportion of dead organic matter, mainly plants, that has accumulated over thousands of years. Close inspection can reveal the types of plants that grew, died and accumulated to form a piece of peat. Unlike most other ecosystems, the dead plants in peatlands do not decompose. This is because of waterlogged conditions, where the lack of oxygen prevents micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi from rapidly decomposing the dead plants. The formation of peat is a very slow process, and it takes approximately 10 years for 1cm of peat to form. The factors which cause peat to accumulate may be the same the world over, but different types of peatlands develop because of differences in climate, soil type and plant species. Even within Ireland, different types of peatlands have developed because of varying conditions. Our peatlands can vary in terms of the plants that grow there, the colour and composition of the peat, the water content and the amount of nutrients the peat contains. There are many different systems for classifying peat. For example, traditional turf-cutters simply classified the peat depending on its colour, as this indicated its fuel value.
At the published coordinates you should see that you are at a T Junction of raised paths above the moss. These Baulkways divide the moss into large rectangles. Their primary purpose is to keep the mossland healthy by draining rainwater into it. Since their introduction 10 years ago water levels have risen considerably and mossland vegetation is now beginning to flourish over a wider area of the site. It is also hoped that in the future many of the species that have been lost can be re-established.
To Log The Cache
Stand with your back to the motorway and look at Winter Hill (incidentally the very large building is the remains of Horwich Loco works) You will have one large peat bog behind you and two in front of you (on either side of the long baulkway)
1) Estimate the width of the peat bog behind you.
2) Estimate the width of the peat bog in front of you to the left.
3) post a photo of you/your gps at the coordinates. Any logs without a photo will be deleted.
There are two methods of getting there.
1) The longer but easier way. This is on a decent path. If you have decent all terrain pram you could get it there. Follow the Blue Pipes! These blue pipes date from the time that this side of Red Moss was a tip. (Fortunately not anymore!) Their purpose was to check methane levels.
(i) Go to the published coordinates of geocache GC10ER2 Rupert and the Mysterious Box
(ii) Cross the metal stile to the strange contraption with the pipes sticking out of it.
(iii) Take the path to the right.
(iv) Follow all the way around to the "black boxes" at 53 35.015 -2 33.042
(v) Here there is a small path on to the moss. This gives you a bulls eye to the cache site.
2) The shorter more "interesting" way. Do not attempt this with young children. Wear adequate footwear. It's rough terrain. This is the way to appreciate the full beauty of the Moss. It can be rather unsettling and eerie to be have all this moss land around you! Basically find my GC1GV5M Red Moss Ramble geocache. This is on a raised baulkway that you can follow all the way to the published coordinates. There are at least two places where its rather difficult to pass (the first is just after Red Moss Ramble )