Pontesbury Parish brings us up to date with the latest developments:
Summer fires can be very damaging to the heathland wildlife, unlike the controlled burning which is carried out in the winter months. Luckily in this instance the underlying peat was wet enough, due to the wet summer, and the fire didn’t go into the peat. If the peat had caught fire, as is often the case in the summer, hot spots may have occurred which would have been very difficult to put out, and the fire could have burnt for much longer.
Our thanks go to the Shropshire Fire Service for their excellent response, calling on 70 fire-fighters from around the region and also to the Stiperstones Inn which kept them refreshed during what was a very hot day. It is hard enough climbing up the slope of Mytton Dingle in normal clothes, but I can’t imagine doing it in fireman kit.
The main effects of the fire will have been a hot burn of the gorse and heather, which will take longer to recover than a cooler winter burn, however due to the damp ground the damage is not as bad as it might have been. The south facing slopes of these dingles on the west side of the hill are dominated by bell heather which has the most vivid colour of the three heathers found on the hill. The bell heather prefers the drier poor soils, the ling or common heather makes up the bulk of the site and the cross leaved heather prefers the wetter areas around springs and wet hollows.
The rocky outcrops seem to have been spared, which is good news as these often hold some of the most interesting plants and lichens. One of these is a blue-flowering plant called sheep’s-bit, although it does have various names including blue bonnets and blue buttons due to its tightly packed head of blue florets.