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"It would take you over half an hour to walk out into the middle and if you did it without falling into a wet hole you'd be very lucky," says Udall, as we stumble across the tussocky, purple moor grass to reach the wide, 200-year-old ditch that separates us from the treacherous-looking mire."If you'd stood here centuries ago, you'd have been looking at a wooded river valley.The "saddleback" built up in the intervening years from the sphagnum mosses and rotting leaf matter," explains Udall."Some of the earliest informal agreements between various rambling clubs and gamekeepers to allow at least limited access were in the Eastern Moors," says Udall.
"The pressure built as a result of this, leading on to the famous 'trespass' on Kinder Scout." While the Eastern Moors are essentially part of the same gritstone geological landscape – known as the Dark Peak – as Kinder Scout, there's a sense in which they are also the reassuring "hills of home" for locals, more intimate, wooded and accessible.
As he speaks, as if to assert the presence of wilderness on the doorstep of the metropolis, two buzzards circle overhead and a curlew skims across a meadow, its liquid call carrying plaintively over the moor.