Strong winds are a characteristic feature of UK upland areas. Despite this, understanding of aeolian processes in upland environments of the UK is limited. This paper presents direct measurements and observations of blanket peat erosion by wind action during a two week period of desiccation in the North Pennines, Northern England. A circular configuration of mass flux sediment samplers was used to collect peat eroded by wind action from 16 cardinal compass directions. Meteorological conditions (wind speed, wind direction, precipitation and temperature) were recorded by an automatic weather station set up adjacent to the site. Surface desiccation led to peat crust erosion and dust deflation. During short (≤1 hour) periods of precipitation, wind-driven rainfall also caused erosion. Typically, dust flux rates were up to two orders of magnitude lower than recorded during periods of sustained wet weather. Measurements demonstrate the hitherto unreported rapid switch in process regime between wind-driven rainfall and dry blow deflation in blanket peat environments. Dry blow processes of blanket peat erosion may become more important in UK upland areas if climate change promotes more frequent surface desiccation. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.