Friday, 20 August 2010

Championship weekend at South West Extreme

North Devon's South West Extreme Centre was the stunning venue for the blue ribbon mountain bike event “The National Championships”. The two day event saw round five of the National 4x Series (NPS) and the UK's top riders including previous National Champions and professional riders Will Longden and Scott Beaumont were among those who competed. The course was built by International rider, Will Evans. This superb location, set on high ground above The Big Sheep at Abbotsham with panoramic views of Abbotsham Village, Greencliffe and the Kenwith Valley was ideal for spectators who were able to watch the non-stop downhill racing from the start to the finish line. The riders reached speeds of up to 35mph and tackled obstacles such as; double and table tops jumps, a rocks garden, logs, steps, and both flat and burned (banked corners). The track also features a 'Pro-line' on the final straight, with three HUGE 8-10m gaped jumps. An estimated 200 riders raced on the Sunday for the National title in there respective category; Jeuvenile, Youth, Junior, Masters, Vetrians and the Main/ Pro event Senior. A misty morning gave way to glorious sunshine which added to the friendly family occasion, it was Free entry for spectators and the High Ropes centre and climbing wall provided additional thrills and a more lofty view of the event. In between races, local caterers, Priors Fryers served up much needed refreshments including delicious chips, bacon rolls and burgers. 
Photo Pat Adams

Photo B. Adams

Photo B. Adams

Photo Pat Adams

For more about the Big Sheep Click here
Will Longden & Katy Curd are your 2010 National 4x Champions

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Nature reserves pick up boost from landfill tax

A leading South West conservation charity has this month been awarded £10,000 to help fund work at two of its flagship nature reserves. The Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) has been awarded the money by Pennon Environmental Fund. It will go towards conservation work at DWT's Old Sludge Beds nature reserve near Exeter and Halsdon nature reserve near Dolton in north Devon. The work at the reserve in Exeter will help fund new visitor information boards for the Old Sludge Beds which is a small 5 hectare wetland site adjacent to the River Exe. The work will also include installing new sections of boardwalk to help visitors get around the site more easily and a leaflet to describe all the wildlife which people will be able to see there. At the 57 hectare Halsdon site situated on the River Torridge, the money will go towards putting in new fencing along the 1 mile stretch of river edge. The fencing will prevent the cattle that graze the meadows from damaging the riverbank. The money will also help with extending the ponds adjoining the meadow. DWT will also be sowing green hay over an area of around 1 hectare to improve the biodiversity value of the grassland. Matt Boydell, DWT's Land Management Manager said: "This is a significant boost for us and will help us improve these important reserves in Exeter and North Devon. Managing nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife is an expensive business and we welcome this new funding that will allow us to add major upgrades to these hidden gems." For more information about these sites visit

Halsdon Nature Reserve, near Dolton

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Young trainees given chance to build new life in conservation

A local wildlife charity is this month looking to recruit two young people to join its Estate Team. The team was established in 2009 with the aim of helping people find work in the field of conservation. The new trainees will join Devon Wildlife Trust's nature reserves officers for a minimum of six months. They will be provided with free accommodation at the charity's Woodah Farm in the Teign Valley. They will also receive a range of professional training such as first aid, chainsaw and brushcutter use, along with the other essentials skills required to become the estate workers of the future. Two of the recruits from last year have already found jobs in the sector following a year of intensive conservation work looking after the charity's nature reserves around the county. DWT's Edric Hopkinson who is looking after the new recruits said: "This scheme is a great way for young people with conservation qualifications, but without experience, to find a job with one of the region's conservation organisations. Being able to offer free accommodation has made it all the more appealing for them. They also provide essential help with the many jobs on Devon Wildlife Trust's reserves, keeping them in the best possible condition for wildlife." The project gained an extra boost this year thanks to a successful membership appeal along with £1000 raised by DWT's Halsdon Local Group. The money was used to offset the costs of providing the volunteer places.
The deadline for applications is 30 August. For more information about the posts visit

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Teddy Bears on Parade

25th July. Teddy Bears on Marine Parade, Instow actually and what a colourful picture it made. All the dollies and teddies had been donated and were being sold to raise funds for Instow Church, so watch out for them when you visit Instow this summer. First on parade was the mad looking flame haired rag doll, I was happy to pay my £1, and "I called her Annabel".

Freedom at last - Annabel on Instow Beach
We had parked by the Tarka Trail behind the North Devon Cricket Club and walked through the sand dunes beside the old thatched Score Box. We heard the sound of leather on willow and “Oz that”. Cricket on a Sunday; so quintessentially British! The sand dunes here were covered in bell flowered Evening Primrose, wild celery, scurvy grass and sea mayweed. There were several black and yellow striped caterpillars camouflaged in the marram grass.
Enjoying new found freedom, Annabel at Woolsery Show 26th July 2010
North Devon Cricket Club, founded 186 years ago, was the home club of the late international test umpire David Shepherd.

Click here to see more pictures of Instow on the Taw/Torridge Estuary