What is a lowland raised bog?
In lowland Britain, to the north-west of a line from Somerset to Hull, rainfall of between 700 and 1200 mm (28 to 48 inches) per year is enough to foster the growth of large domes of peat, of the consistency of black custard, towering up to 8 m (25 feet) above the plain or valley each sits in: raised bogs, fed only by rainwater.
Lower rainfall to the south-east of the Mosses means that only swamps, fens, valley mires and carr woodland can occur: wetlands relying on groundwater. To the north-west and in the colder wet uplands, there is enough precipitation for ‘blanket’ mires to spread up and over the hillsides. Each type of wetland has its own special wildlife, making up Britain’s boggy biodiversity.
To walk up on to the top of an intact lowland raised bog, first struggle through the lagg - wet alder and willow carr woodland, reed swamp and rush-fen around the edge of the bog. Wade through the lagg stream, where nutrient-rich water draining off and through surrounding hills mixes with acidic nutrient-poor water running off the raised bog dome. Climb up the rand slope, the denser better-drained peat that holds the sloppy peat of the quagmire in place, on to the treacherous waterlogged open plateau of the bog. Tread carefully so you don’t break through the surface skin of bogmoss or fall into one of the bog pools.
Unfortunately, drainage has damaged all of our raised bogs. As at the Mosses, most have collapsed and are now quite solid to walk on – quagmires no longer!