An author's new children's book inspired by the Peak District moors highlights the beauty of the natural world
A Peak District children’s author has published a magical story about red deer in the moors to show youngsters the natural beauty of the region and encourage them to engage with nature.
Katherine Clarke, a children’s author living in the Litton, Derbyshire, published Roar on the Moor, in September 2021, the first book in her new nature based series, The Adventures of Wildwell Hollow.
The book, illustrated by Robert Page, is inspired by the Peak District moors and follows Tilly Fairy and Bodkin Jack to Monarch Moor, high above their homes in Whispering Wood. Tracking the roar coming from the moor, the characters discover the King of Stags strutting his stuff during the red deer rutting season, when competing males take part in a series of behaviours aimed at showing off to female deer and establishing dominance.
Katherine began her career as a volunteer for the Peak District National Park, and has travelled the country caring for places that are important for nature and people for more than 30 years.
She said: “One thing I care about as much as nature and the health of the environment, is the desire and ability of others to care too, simply because they are in awe of it.”
In 2011, Katherine began working as part of the Eastern Moors Partnership team on the moors, her dream job. The role gave her a great insight into the area and the red deer which inhabit the moors and she decided to write Roar on the Moor to help inspire families to explore nature for themselves.
She added: “It’s just such a beautiful place, high above Sheffield and Chesterfield with spectacular views, dramatic skies and atmospheric moors. “What’s not to love?
“Every season paints a new picture; early summer cotton grass blankets the moors in white, turning purple as heather fills the air with the sweet scent of honey, followed by the autumn’s golden glow bringing a comforting warmth.
"The wildlife here is so special too; blanket bogs lined with sphagnum moss, babbling books hiding secretive water voles, ponds dancing with acrobatic dragonflies, moorlands nurturing curlew chicks and woodlands sheltering red deer in winter. It’s a magical place.”
Whilst working on the moors Katherine’s colleague Kim spotted the annual Bolving World Championships held in Exmoor and together they decided to give it a go themselves.
Katherine went on to run the annual Eastern Moors Bolving Championships and this odd sport was to be the inspiration of the ‘roar’ heard on the moor, as her characters attempt to bolve just as Katherine did.
Katherine said: “Bolving is the art of imitating the roar of a red deer stag during the rut, to see if you can get a response. It’s wacky and it’s wonderful and we ran it every year on the moors until Covid struck.
"We hope it will begin again next year, bringing more families out for a great time on the moor learning about the deer and experiencing nature at its finest whilst having a gloriously daft time together.”
Through her business Bee Kinder, which she set up after being furloughed from her day job with the National Trust in 2020, Katherine aims to connect people with nature through social media, events, facilitation, and training for conservation professionals.
But it was through her love of writing and tales of fairies that led Katherine to create The Adventures of Wildwell Hollow story series, and where better to start such a series than on her beloved Eastern Moors and the backdrop of the spectacular annual red deer rut?
Katherine added: “The red deer are majestic creatures, and the rut is when the herd is at its biggest and most active. It’s a very exciting time.
"There’s a lot of testosterone being thrown around at this time of year. Stags bellow or roar; an incredible sound that echoes across the moor, and use their size to prove their dominance. If neither stag steps down, antlers may clash, and stags can get hurt. But they’re intelligent creatures, they don’t want to fight if they don’t have to. A lot of the battle is won by show!”
As Britain’s largest native mammal, the red deer is a common but incredible sight - thought to have once been escapees from Chatsworth’s domestic herds, the red deer of the Eastern Moors now roam wild.
During September and October, male stags compete for the attention of females hinds, with the aim of finding a mate. There are dominant stags who often have the largest group of hinds, known as a harem, but younger competitors will challenge them and try to steal their hinds.
Through her story, Katherine can impress upon young children how amazing and precious the natural world is, and why it is important that we care for it.
Katherine has also taken part in a series of free author visits at primary schools in the region, where she reads her story to the pupils and leads them in a series of creative activities.
The children create their own pair of decorated antlers and use writing sheets and story prompts to produce written work and present it to their class, who will vote for the best pieces to make it on the Wildwell Hollow Wall of Fame.
Roar on the Moor celebrates the amazing red deer and the art of bolving – the lovable characters, Tilly Fairy & Bodkin Jack, are sure to harness children’s curiosity and spark their imagination, inspiring them to care for the natural world simply because it is amazing.
Visit www.beekinder.net/roar-on-the-moor to order a copy.