Get Your Heat From Peat


The rising price of gas is leading to all kinds of changes: bicycles instead of cars, camels instead of tractors and now peat to burn as central heating. In the Outer Hebrides, Scotland they are reviving the ancient tradition of cutting peat to fire their stoves. More people are starting to cut their own and are re-installing their formerly bricked up peat-burning stoves. As a result, orders for the tools used for cutting peat have risen; 40 cutters have been sold this year as opposed to 6 last year. A blacksmith whose father started making the cutters in 1920 said ""This year they've really snowballed, I reckon it's the price of fuel. With prices going up, I was thinking, oh well, they may be wanting peat irons this year; then it turned out true enough. People were saying to me, 'I'll cut peat this year to help out'."

The cutting of peat on the May holiday weekend was once a central activity, as whole families would join together to cut it and stack it and dry it for use as fuel during the winter months. Then electricity came to Scotland's remote outposts and people threw away their peat cutters and turned up the heat. There are environmental issues; now many peatlands are protected because of the endangered species living in the fields and many of the areas are already depleted. But with the price of gas doubled, it is expected that hundreds of people will take to the hills this week to do it, the way generations of villagers did in the past. :: Guardian