A Visit to Munsary Peatlands is Hard to Forget

Erin Shott

Erin Shott

Volunteer

8th March 2018

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Bogbean at Munsary peatlands

My husband and I differ in ideas of what going on a hike really means.

I prefer to go on a hike, where you stop frequently and look at the flowers and wildlife, consider the scenery, and generally just taking a leisurely stroll. My husband, however, likes to go on a hike. Over rough terrain, sometimes uphill, it’s not fun unless you are getting dirty and sweaty. As you can imagine, this can make it difficult to agree on a location to partake on one of our outdoor adventures. Fortunately, when we are in Northern Scotland we can always agree on where to go. Munsary Peatland Reserve provides both the beauty and variety that I look for, and provides a lush wildness that my husband craves.

Between spring and summer, amid the moss that covers this blanket bog, are wildflowers of the most beautiful pinks, purples, and yellows. Among these are tufts of hare’s-tail cotton grass (Erophorum vaginatum) and bell heather (Erica cinerea). Munsary is a well of plant biodiversity, a trait that can often be overlooked in conservation. The blanket bog here is one of the most extensive peatlands left in Europe and it’s full of rare and delicate bog plants.

And when you consider the importance of peat to Scotch whisky, is it any wonder why we should push for greater conservation of these remaining areas of peatland? However, peatland has a greater importance than creating a smoky variety of a wee dram of single malt.

It is easy to write off organisms that don’t outwardly appear to be beneficial, but peatland such as Munsary Peatland Reserve in northern Scotland have been there for thousands of years, soaking up water like a large sponge, preventing flooding. I don’t know about you, but in a country where rain is a fact of life, I find this particular quality one of the more important! The mosses peatlands are made of create a natural filter, producing purer water than other areas - although, I would not recommend ripping up moss and throwing it into your nearest water bottle.

Despite peat's environmental importance, its use is on the rise in gardening. So next time you're in the garden, please consider Plantlife's peat-free gardening tips.


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Wildflower Walks: The wild plants of Munsary peatlands

A 6-mile return walk to the Munsary Peatlands Reserve in Scotland. This walk guides you along a farm track, surrounded by heathland, to the edge of Plantlife’s Munsary Peatlands Reserve. You’ll see some common heathland and wetland species along the way, which will give you a good sense of why Munsary is so important.

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