The gamekeepers have taken advantage of the vernal weather to burn the heather on their moors. Plumes of smoke can be seen right across the skyline, creating a haze. The smoke from these burns on Snilesworth Moor was drifting as far as Sheepwash, spoiling the day for families enjoying half term walking around the reservoir.
The landowners and gamekeepers maintain that rotational burning is necessary to preserve the character of the heather moors whilst, of course, creating a habitat that maximises the grouse population. Much is made that managed moorland is beneficial for other ground-nesting birds such as curlew and lapwing but a monoculture of one plant must surely restrict the habitat diversity for all wildlife.
It looks to me that this burning is being done by the Snilesworth Estate, which in 2008 had its reputation tarnished when three of its gamekeepers admitted charges of using of live pigeons to trap birds of prey.