Thursday, 29 December 2011

Lighting Up Time. Bideford New Year's Eve Celebrations

Bideford will once again help revellers welcome in the New Year in spectacular style. New Year's Eve Celebrations will start from 6pm on Bideford Quay with entertainment including a light show set to music, traditional fairground rides, street dancing displays, and a children's fancy dress parade with prizes for the best fancy dress. The evening will be hosted by presenters from North Devon independent radio station The Voice. This year, from 9pm, the station will be beaming the celebrations live to online listeners around the world. The temporary road closure comes into force at 6pm and the action on the former Radio 1 Roadshow stage will get underway soon after. - To listen to live online coverage of the Bideford celebrations, visit See "Region gets Ready to Party" 
 Bideford Highlights 2011 - Photo copyright BD Adams
North Devon Coast and Country Chronicle. "More than 10,000 revellers gather in fancy dress to join in one of the West Country's largest parties…As midnight approaches everyone gathers on Bideford's Long Bridge to wait for the parish bells to ring in the New Year" - As featured in the Daily Mail, Saturday December 17 2005 - TOP 10 NEW YEAR CRACKERS.

Monday, 19 December 2011

The BIG Sheep Winter Opening, Ice Skating & Toboganning

Winter Weekends & Winter School Holidays. During the winter The BIG Sheep is open at weekends & school holidays  10am until 5pm.

During January there are no animals onsite. Lambing will start in February.
(some attractions are weather dependable and this can affect their opening hours.) During the winter months the attractions open are: Ewetopia Indoor playground and cafe, Train Ride, Jumping Pillows, Battlefield Live, Ice Skating and Toboggan Slope.
Prices: £6 each for adults and children over 3ft tall.
£2.50 each for children under 3ft tall.
Tickets purchased online at are discounted by £1 per ticket.
The BIG Skate Rink

The Big Sheep are open every day during the winter school holidays.
February Half Term 2012 – Saturday 11th February 2012 until Sunday 19th February 2012.
Please call 01237 472366 for more information.
 Prices: £6 each for adults and children over 3ft tall.
£2.50 each for children under 3ft tall.
Tickets purchased online at are discounted by £1 per ticket.  
NB: The first weekend of the winter season is 5th and 6th November 2011 - The last weekend of the winter season is 24th and 25th March 2012.   

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Making Headlines. Military Wives Choir - Wherever You Are BBC

The Military Wives and Gareth Malone, are bidding for that coveted Christmas Number One spot with their new single Wherever You Are which will be released on December 19th 2011. Chris Evans has been promoting it on his radio 2 breakfast show. The RMB Chivenor Military Wives Choir starred with Gareth Malone in the recent BBC Two series of The choir: Military Wives, If you missed their stunning Festival of Remembrance performance at the Royal Albert Hall watch the video now.  Lets make it a Special Christmas and get it to No1 click here to Pre-order the single

"The choir’s charity song, Wherever You Are was written for the choir and Gareth by composer Paul Mealor, who wrote music for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Its lyrics were taken from letters written by choir members to their husbands and partners whilst they were serving in Afghanistan. Profits from the single will be going to the Royal British Legion plus military charity SSAFA." Visit the North Devon Gazette to read all about it

Adopt a species scheme proves popular at Christmas

Devon Wildlife Trust's (DWT) range of gifts have been proving very popular in the run up to Christmas again this year with its adopt a species scheme going from strength to strength. The adopt a species scheme, launched in 2009 through the DWT website, allows people to support the Trust's conservation work in Devon, protecting habitats and species for future generations to enjoy. This year people can choose to 'adopt' from a list of five wonderful species: dormouse, otter, dolphin, bat and now hedgehog, which has been included as part of the charity's high profile 'Help the Hog' campaign. With each £20 donation, purchasers will receive a soft toy of their chosen species along with a welcome letter, fact sheet, certificate, a postcard  of the species, a fun activity book, a pack of six colouring pencils and a six month update letter. Phoebe Grubb, from DWT said: 'This is a great way for people to support our work - adopt a species makes the perfect gift for children and nature loving adults at this time of the year! The Help the Hog campaign has really taken off, and it is showing, as the most popular adopt a species has been the hedgehog so far this season. This year the scheme has already raised £1,500 for local wildlife, so thank you for those who have already adopted.' The money raised through the scheme goes towards the costs of carrying out conservation work throughout the county benefiting these species and the habitats that they need to thrive. To adopt a species today visit, or call Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244. Get your order to us by Wednesday 14 December to ensure delivery in time for Christmas.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Charity calendar marks 50th anniversary

Devon Wildlife Trust has this month launched its 2012 wildlife calendar. The beautifully produced calendar has been created to mark the charity's 50th anniversary. The calendar is being sold for £5 and is available by phone, online or by post. Each calendar sold will raise funds for the charity's vital conservation work around Devon. The calendar is illustrated with a stunning collection of Devon's most popular species including otter, brown hare, bluebell, kingfisher, dormouse and red deer, it also has a nuthatch on its front cover. Each month also contains a photo of one of the charity's nature reserve along with details of what to see there on a visit. Phoebe Grubb, DWT's Fundraising Officer enthused: 'This is our first ever calendar so we are hoping lots of people will choose to have it on their wall for next year which is our 50th. It's such a major milestone, we wanted to give something back to our supporters and mark this special occasion. Hopefully people that buy it will think about us through the year and continue to value the work we do to protect Devon's wonderful wildlife." Carrie Park who compiled the calendar said: "We have such a great resource of photographs available mainly thanks to the kind support from keen local wildlife photographers. Without their help we wouldn't have been able to produce such a beautiful product." People who wish to purchase a calendar should visit or call Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244. Photo: Copyright Dormouse 5 (Hugh Clark)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Oh my Silver Darlings. In Praise of the Humble Herring

Fair weather drew the crowds down along Clovelly on Sunday to a celebration in praise of the humble herring. By chance we shared the trip down in the landrover with the present owner of Clovelly, the Hon. John Rous and a lady wrestling with some unwieldy cake-laden trays. The scrumptious looking buns and scones were destined for sale at the Lifeboat House. Down at the harbour a huge colony of gulls were squawking above the water and some Jolly Jack Tars were singing shanties acappella. Below the old Lime Kiln smoke was rising from the Kipperman's little hut. The Kipperland exhibition tells the story of the herring and how a small fish has played such an important part in the history of  Great Britain. On the beach Flaxland were demonstrating flax processing and net making. There were also three examples of flax woven craft. The curragh, a traditional craft from the west coast of Ireland used for fishing, kelp gathering and island hopping, a coricle and a canoe both made using flax fabrics. Languishing across the harbour with its red sails standing out against the grey quay stone wall was "Little Lily", Clovelly's very own Picarroner. It's hard to believe that at one time this harbour was filled with up to ninety fishing boats which landed nearly a million herrings. Harbour Master, Stephen Perham is one of the last herring fishermen in Clovelly, he still uses "Little Lily" to fish for Herring. Clovelly Herring Festival is a real food fest and the stalls along the quay did well to keep up with demand. You could buy fresh herring and mullet, local bread, beer and cider, mulled wine, preserves liquorice, confectionery and rock. In between the produce stalls, there was a colourful array of local hand-made crafts including stained glass, mosaics, jewellery, patchwork and haberdashery, knitted gifts and knitting yarns. A choice of delicious fishy treats were served up in the Quay kitchens, herring specialities, spicy mullet chowder, tale of three herrings, fish cakes and stir fry. We really enjoyed our Kipper Baguette. The Pancake stall was very popular especially with the kids. There was also a "Ships in a Bottle" display and a photographic exhibition. Flying the flag for the natural world on land, sea and in the air were the North Devon AONB, the National Trust and the RSPB. Kids were kept amused by a variety of event-themed craft activities. Time for a beer and a sit down and a chance to take in the view, listen to more sea shanties this time with guitar, banjo and fiddle from local group "Fifers Ruse" and Bideford folk band "Shake a Leg". The sun, low at this time of year, came out briefly highlighting the woodland which clings to the 400 feet cliffs above Clovelly Harbour. It is really a dream location for photographers and film makers. Dressed in old sea-fairing garb, the Exmouth Shanty Singers made a wonderful tableau and they and that plucky little Penguin were probably the most photographed subjects on the day. Heave Away, Haul Away, Up Along - time for that Bacon Bap. Article and photos by Pat Adams

Clovelly was once a major centre for herring fishing. This popular festival is held in support of sustainable fishing by traditional methods and to celebrate the herring, the Silver Darlings of the sea.  Click here to visit Clovelly Village Website - Whats On at Clovelly   
We recommend the Bacon Bap at the Clovelly Visitor Centre
Click here for North Devon Coast and Country Chronicle post on the Clovelly, Crab and Lobster Festival

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A major setback for our seas. Add your voice today to the marine campaign

Our seas are suffering serious damage and need protection now, according to the Devon Wildlife Trust, in response to the recent ministerial statement which announced a delay on the protection of marine wildlife. Stakeholders across the country had been expecting the government to give the go ahead to designate 127 Marine Conservation Zones across the nation's seas, where some of our most important marine wildlife would be protected. This was to be a landmark moment in protecting our marine environment. Harry Barton, Chief Executive of the Devon Wildlife Trust says, "The statement sends a worrying signal that the Government is dragging its heels on designating the network of sites recommended by stakeholder groups." The proposed network of Marine Conservation Zones includes areas of sea off the coast of Devon, such as Torbay and much of the north coast. In a surprise announcement, the Government has said that it needs more evidence before it takes action. Yesterday's statement by the Natural Environment and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon gave no firm guarantee that any part of the recommended network will be designated, and confirmed that no sites would be designated before 2013, a year later than planned. Harry Barton says, "There is indisputable evidence that the wildlife in our seas is declining, and that we need urgent action now to conserve it. Wildlife in our seas receives far less protection than on land, and until very recently there has been only one marine nature reserve in English waters - around Lundy, in Devon. This is a once in a generation opportunity to put this right. More than a million people representing fishermen, conservationists and businesses have worked closely together for two years to identify the network of sites, taking the many different interests into account. What more information does the government want before it takes action?" Devon Wildlife Trust agrees with the government's scientific advisers that all 127 sites need to be designated if the network is to work. Harry Barton concluded, "This announcement is a huge disappointment and will put yet more pressure on marine wildlife. This is a time for decisive action, not discussion and delay. The government has said it wants to be the greenest ever. It needs to stand firm in its commitment and deliver the network of protected sites that local stakeholders and scientists have recommended to it." Add your voice today to the marine campaign by signing a Petition Fish scale at

Thongweed, snakelocks anemone,ballan wrasse (Paul Naylor)

Visual arts project puts Devon conservation in the frame

Shot of the landscape - Landscape photographer Mike McFarlane cycled into Devon this summer as part of a unique conservation-inspired visual arts project, commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts. Mike is covering thousands of miles, mainly by bike and public transport, during a 12 month tour of the UK, after setting off from his home in County Durham on Tuesday 12 April. This project will see the creation of stunning 360° interactive colour images of landscape-scale conservation schemes throughout the UK. Devon Wildlife Trust believes the images will inspire local residents about the natural world whilst illustrating the variety, scope and importance of its vision for A Living Landscape. By visiting Devon Wildlife Trust's Exeter Wild City and Working Wetlands landscape-scale conservation schemes Mike McFarlane has captured stunning colour panoramic images, one from a view point on the roof of Exeter Cathedral and the other at Bursdon Moor in north Devon. On completion of the UK tour Mike McFarlane will produce a complete set of 360° photographs for the schemes. Devon Wildlife Trust hopes to use the visual materials in its visitor centres, at events and on its website. Peter Burgess, Conservation Advocacy Manager at Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "The photos really show off these two amazing urban and rural landscapes in such scope and detail. Conservation is not just about protecting isolated reserves but now more often about influencing whole landscapes for the better. Landscape scale conservation is not always an easy concept to get across but these images really do show off the projects well. We hope to upload the virtual tours to our website in the near future so they will inspire people to take an alternative look at what's on their doorstep." Mike McFarlane is a landscape photographer, specialising in landscape, architectural and 360° virtual reality tour photography. Through his use of public transport and bike, Mike's carbon footprint will be substantially less than driving the route by car and taking more flights. Mike said: "When I left my job as an engineer to pursue a career as a landscape photographer I very much wanted my business to be ethical and environmentally-friendly and, not only entertain people, but to educate and inspire. I was excited to see how Devon Wildlife Trust's schemes are capturing the imagination of local communities, bringing people together for long-lasting positive change. "Ultimately, I want to be able to show people we have achingly beautiful places here in the county, worth protecting for the next generation and beyond. What better way to achieve that aim than helping to raise awareness of Devon Wildlife Trust's vision for A Living Landscape."  You can follow Mike's travels via his website or on Twitter @mikejmcfarlane.
Working Wetlands - Bursdon Moor Panorama

Exeter Wild City Panorama

Thursday, 17 November 2011

BBC Children in Need Official Single. Labrinth, Tinchy, Chipmunk and Wretch 32 Come Together To Help

The official BBC Children in Need single will get one of its most credible makeovers to date this year as the likes of Labrinth, Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk, Wretch 32 and Tulisa from NDubz present their own re-interpretation of Massive Attack’s timeless single ‘Teardrop’, with the new lyrics adapted by Wretch 32, Gary Go and Mr Dialysis. The song will be released through Island Records on November 13th with all proceeds going to the charity to support some of the most disadvantaged children right here in the UK. Gary Barlow was asked by BBC Children in Need organizers to come-up with an idea for the official single this year and immediately contacted Labrinth (famed for his production on Tinie Tempah’s ‘Pass Out’ which won Best British Single at The BRIT Awards 2011) to produce it. Together they assembled a group that makes up the cream of the UK grime scene including: Chipmunk, Dot Rotten, Ed Sheeran, Ms Dynamite,
Mz Bratt, Rizzle Kicks, Tinchy Stryder,
Tulisa and Wretch 32. The institution that is the official CiN single has always held a special place in our hearts and record collections. Since 1997 BBC Children in Need has achieved six No.1 singles and six more in the Top Ten; recorded by artists including JLS, The Spice Girls, Peter Kay, Lou Reed, S Club 7 and Will Young. This year’s collective, who have earned five No.1 singles between them already, will have a name to represent the group chosen for them through a fan competition launched today. The song is adapted from the original ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack – who also gave their blessing for the song to go ahead. Labrinth & Co assembled at Metropolis Studios at the beginning of last week to record the song and shoot the official video, which will premiere in the run-up to release.
BBC Children in Need supports children living in the UK facing a range of disadvantages including: poverty and deprivation, disabled young people and children who have been victims of abuse or neglect. The spectacular live Appeal Show will be broadcast live on BBC1 on Friday November 18th. To get involved in this year’s appeal please visit

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Peppercombe Valley not for turning!

Peppercombe Chronicles and one week in October. The leaves are still green and clinging to the trees down Peppercombe. Spotted a squirrel, darting across the track and scurrying up and along the tree branches. Little acorns are dropping on the verges amongst the rusty fallen leaves so it looks like that squirrel is in for a bountiful winter. Today there is a trickle of water in both streams in contrast to the thundering sound as huge waves crash on the pebbles down at the beach. Saw a few fungi and lichens on the way and as we arrived a Cormorant was coming in to land offshore. Swirling, rolling incoming tide on 17th October. A couple of days later the sun is out and a flock of gulls are bobbing offshore and a seal is popping his head up on the incoming blue tide. Took a photo of a lone Red Admiral sunning itself on the coast path. In the valley a hare made a sudden dash from the knotted roots of a tree then disappeared into the woodland above, three long tail tits were chirping happily in the beech canopy, a beetle was parked on the track and a pheasant was heard squawking in the undergrowth. It’s now quite a bit colder with fleeting sunlight. Lundy very low but clear. The blackberries and sloe berries which started to ripen in August are now joined by the vibrant display of hawthorne and holly. Occasional colour comes from the remaining Red Campion, Knapweed and Sheeps Bit. There is a huge clump of Hemp Agrimony in the meadows, its fading flowers now fluffy and white.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Charity makes Christmas cards count

Following the huge success of its Christmas cards last year, a local wildlife charity is preparing for a bumper season in 2011 with a new range of designs. Devon Wildlife Trust's has been selling Christmas cards for a number of years and last year the scheme raised over £5,000 for it's work conserving wildlife around the county. There are eight stunning designs in this year's range which are available to order online, over the phone or by post. The designs include fox, squirrel, robin, deer, and hare and a number of beautiful wintery landscape shots. Phoebe Grubb, DWT's Fundraising Officer enthused: 'With Christmas now looming and the weather turning cold we have started to promote our latest range of cards. They are printed on card from sustainable sources and really show off some of Devon's best loved animals. The cards are a great way to help wildlife on your doorstep while sending your Christmas wishes to loved ones." People who wish to purchase cards should visit or call Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244. The cards are also available through the Cards for Good Causes outlets across the county.
Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Westward Ho! Gimme Shelter!

Gone but not forgotten! Westward Ho! Village Green enhancement started in March 2011 with the creation of a modern landscaped green with open spaces, paths, low bench seating and sympathetic planting. The pictures below of the old Village Green have been taken at various times of the year. The old shelter, now removed, has been a haven for locals and holidaymakers for years. Where else can you find some shade from the Summer sun, snuggle up in the Winter or eat your ice cream and fish n' chips on a windy day beside the seaside! If you want to share any information about the old shelter please leave a comment

Explore Westward Ho! with the North Devon Focus Picture Tour

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

CAP reforms: a missed opportunity for farming and wildlife in Devon

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) believes the Common Agricultural Policy reforms announced today are a missed opportunity to help secure a brighter future for the county's rich environment. The charity, which has 33,000 members and manages 45 nature reserves, has concerns that the EU farming reforms will reduce funding for vital agri-environment schemes. These reductions will have direct impacts on the future health of our countryside and also the farming community, with whom DWT works in partnerships across the county. D.W.T. believes that landowners are inadequately rewarded for the critical role they play in producing food and maintaining a healthy wildlife-rich environment. This includes providing clean water supplies, clean air and productive soils. Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust's new Chief Executive said: "This is the best opportunity in a decade to make CAP work better for farmers and wildlife. Pressures on our natural environment are growing ever greater as land is built upon and demand for cheap food grows. These reforms do not go anywhere near far enough. Politicians in the UK and Europe need to have the courage and conviction to bring forward a package of measures that will have a real, meaningful and long lasting impact for the natural environment on which will all depend." "Through our Working Wetlands project in the north of the county our farming and wildlife advisors have carried out more than 1,000 farm visits and helped secure over 2,300 hectares of wildlife rich grasslands in optimum condition. From this experience we know the crucial role agri-environmental schemes play in both sustaining farmers' way of life, as well as our life support systems. But the proposed reforms threaten the protection that these grasslands have been given, and risk undoing years of hard won gains for rare wildlife. " The charity will campaign along with the other Wildlife Trusts throughout the UK over the coming months to feed in to the consultation process which is due to end
next year.
(Photo: Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust's new Chief Executive)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Hand in Hand. Kivu the Gorilla and Dartington Crystal

Keeper at Paignton Zoo
A unique piece of gorilla art was recently auctioned by Paignton Zoo to raise money for international ape conservation. The Zoo, a registered charity, was selling a glass cast of the imprint of a gorilla hand. The impression was taken from the right hand of eight year old male lowland gorilla Kivu when the Zoo’s vet team performed a bone marrow biopsy on him recently. Modelling clay was used to take the impression while Kivu was under anaesthetic. A plaster cast was made from this by Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust reserves warden Dave Ellacott. The hand print was then created in glass by craftsmen at North Devon’s very own Dartington Crystal. This is an extra ordinarily beautiful object, wonderful and precious, like gorillas themselves. The auction presented a rare opportunity to own a piece of art that has a direct connection with one of the most amazing species on the planet. Gorillas are closely related to humans but are becoming increasingly rare. Every penny raised from the auction will help in the battle against extinction. Sue French from Dartington Crystal said: “We were delighted to help with this very special project. It was a real challenge for us at Dartington Crystal as it's not every day that you get to cast the hand of a gorilla and raise money for such a cause. Visitors were so interested when the casting took place that we decided to do a replica of Kivu's hand to put on display in our Visitor Centre". The piece, engraved with Kivu’s name and the year 2011, is nearly 30 centimetres long and about 20 centimetres wide. It weighs 2.54 kilos. The cast was made by Dartington Crystal master craftsman Paul Sullivan. Dartington Crystal can help you capture YOUR unique moment in time... A glass hand or foot cast makes the perfect keepsake or a special gift to parents and family. Click here for further details on Hand Cast Gifts & Gift Vouchers.See how it's done watch the movie demonstration below:

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is supporting the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Ape Campaign 2010, which aims to raise one million Euros for global ape conservation. The Zoo is hoping to donate £10,000. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Local landowners and volunteers set sights on lookering course

Local landowners and volunteers set sights on lookering course Devon Wildlife Trust's (DWT) Working Wetlands Project is holding a 'Lookering' course this month to help the charity get more wildlife-rich land under good management. 'Lookering' is a familiar term to farmers, describing a set of important activities associated with looking after stock. With the decline in livestock farming and fewer people to manage them, much Culm Grassland is scrubbing up and being invaded by fast-growing willow, bramble and gorse. The project's priority is to reinstate management on neglected Culm Grassland sites within three target areas of the Culm Measures, especially those which have been managed by stock grazing in the past. Many people who now own Culm Grassland don't have their own stock, so a course has been set up to try and help people learn more about looking after Dartmoor ponies. By casting a daily eye over the grazing stock and reporting back if there are any problems, lookerers can really help landowners and the Wildlife Trust whilst also getting to know local wildlife. The course is being held on Wednesday 28 September 2011 near Tedburn St Mary. Trainees will learn how ponies graze, signs of good health and normal behaviour along with health & safety issues and the legalities affecting landowners. DWT's Working Wetlands Project Coordinator, Mark Elliot said: "With the complications surrounding cattle movements, we are increasingly turning to ponies to manage some of our best wildlife sites. In many ways they are perfectly suited for the rough grasslands where encroaching scrub like gorse and willow can be a real problem. Wild ponies can tackle these problems brilliantly and so we are keen to develop a network of people able to keep an eye on their welfare". For more information about the course and to book a place, contact Working Wetlands on 01409 221823 by Monday 26 September 2011. Working Wetlands is a seven year landscape scale project and this is just one of many initiatives being undertaken by the scheme across 65,000 hectares of the Culm Natural Area. It has been supported by South West Water, Tubney Charitable Trust, The Environment Agency, Devon County Council, Devon Waste Management and Natural England.
Moving ponies on the site - Photo  Copyright DWT

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Clovelly Highlights. Shimmering Lobsters and Sea Shanties

The crowds turned out for Clovelly’s annual Lobster and Crab Fest on the 4th September. A continuous stream of folk, young and not so young made the steep and winding walk down the wonky cobbles to the Quay. At journey’s end the reward was Clovelly Harbour, a stunning sight, especially at high tide. Shimmering water under  blue skies, bobbing boats and the Clovelly lifeboat whizzing to and fro.  The old cobbled Quay was lined with the colourful awnings of craft and food stalls and the aroma of sizzling seafood fritters and stir fry filled the air. Delicious cupcakes and all manner of local produce and products were on display, including those famous Clovelly lobsters and crabs. It was especially nice for the children to see the huge wriggling lobsters up close. Craft stalls were bedecked with colourful mosaics, fun t-shirts, hand-made patchwork and haberdashery, knitting yarns, recycled metal jewellery, local art and photographic gifts. There was even a wool spinning demonstration. Happy families with excited children took part in various fun activities including face painting, storytelling, balloon modelling, street theatre and still found time to greet the arrival of the resident donkeys. Bellowing above the buzz of the crowd some harmonious, fiddle-playing, folk singers took centre stage belting out sea shanties by the old lime kiln, which had been taken over by the North Devon ANOB for more kids’event-themed craft activities. The Lobster and Crab Fest was organised in support of the National Lobster Hatchery who brought along a tank of baby lobsters. Their bright red, white and blue stall was at the end of the Quay. You could sponsor your own teeny lobsters before they were released into a slightly bigger tank, Bideford Bay beyond the harbour.  Also shimmering along the bumpy quayside was one giant “Lobster”. Drawing oohs and ahs from astonished children and adults, the very brave stilt walker stopped to pose for photos then carried on with confidence and without incident.  The Red Lion, of course, did a roaring trade, the never-ending queue stretching from the bar and out the door where the beer and wine tasting stall was conveniently situated. I have never seen Clovelly quite so crowded but people waited patiently and with good spirits. The sunny weather held until mid-afternoon, then rain literally stopped play and everyone ran for cover including the band who decided it was much safer to head for the cosy Red Lion Hotel bar! Article and photos by P. Adams


The Lobster and Crab Fest is just one of many events held at Clovelly throughout the year. There is a landrover service which will take you “Up Along” or “Down Along” or you can stay in one of the two hotels, the New Inn at the top or the Red Lion. For more information visit - What's On Clovelly, latest news and events - History of Clovelly Lifeboat
For information about the Padstow based National Lobster Hatchery
Explore Clovelly with the North Devon Focus Picture Tour

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

North Devon Mini Breaks!

As we made our way down to the Wreckers Retreat over the August Bank Holiday Weekend we came upon the "arresting" sight of hundreds of minis huddled above the famous Hartland Quay. These colourful little cars form the North Devon Grand Tour, a host of mini owners from around the United Kingdom, who meet once a year to raise funds for Children’s Hospice South West. The Legendary Grand Tour was taking a mini break in their happy journey around North Devon towns and villages. The convoy of "Little Cars with Big Hearts" are a most welcome sight for both locals and visitors who stop to wave them by..

The North Devon Heritage coast is also awash with natural colour as the purple heather blooms on the cliffsides around the Bideford Bay Area.
The Legendary Grand Tour started in 1994 with 4 Mini's going out for a drive! - Find out more at

Monday, 22 August 2011

Ben Howard: Westcountry singer-songwriter New Single, Video & UK Tour Dates

Ben Howard releases his new single, ‘Keep Your Head Up’ on the 26th September. It is taken from his forthcoming debut album, ‘Every Kingdom’ released on the 3rd October 2011, released through Island Records. 
Every Kingdom (Deluxe Edition) - Ben Howard - Every Kingdom (Deluxe Edition) - Ben Howard
Keep Your Head Up - Every Kingdom (Deluxe Edition)

Check out the video here 
Click here to read about Ben Howard's Single and UK Tour Dates on the Focus Music Blogspot

Devon Wildlife Trust: Wetlands project starts to sow the seeds

This month, Devon Wildlife Trust's Working Wetlands Project team has been busy with several projects to spread 'green-hay' on sites in north and west Devon to create more wildflower-rich meadows. 'Green-hay' refers to the process of cutting flower-rich grassland areas on existing wildlife sites and quickly baling them un-dried. The bales are then transported to nearby local sites where they are spread onto prepared ground to introduce the seed onto sites which are currently of lower wildlife value. The process is a cost-effective way of enhancing or creating meadows and pastures as part of existing Natural England Environmental Stewardship agreements or to expand areas of wildlife habitat so landowners have more chance of securing a Stewardship agreement. The Working Wetlands team has gained considerable experience planning and managing these projects with many hectares of ground now blooming with the plants which have been spread since the Devon Wildlife Trust's landscape-scale project began in 2008. Stuart Coleman from the Working Wetlands Team said: "The team have always worked closely with landowners and local contractors to make these projects a success, but this year Working Wetlands has expanded its own machinery-ring to include a new 90 hp tractor and fodder chopper/spreader so we can spread the flower-rich bales ourselves. This has made a real difference speeding up operations and reducing costs for landowners enabling even more fields to be enhanced in this way." One of the projects completed this month has been 5.5 ha of fields at Simon Kerslake's "Higher Grinacombe" holding in Broadwoodwidger. Simon said: "This has been a really good project and something I had never heard of before so when DWT got in touch I thought it was quite inspirational and I was keen to go along with it. I'm now really excited to see the results and interested to do more in the future. I think the extra wildlife that will hopefully result from the work will be really beneficial to the farm." The charity is now looking for other landowners in the northern and western areas of Devon who might be interested in helping wildlife by using green-hay to create flower-rich meadows. To express an interest call the Working Wetlands team on 01409 221823.
Working Wetlands is a seven year landscape scale project and this is just one of many initiatives being undertaken by the scheme across 65,000 hectares of the Culm Natural Area. It has been supported by South West Water, Tubney Charitable Trust, The Environment Agency, Devon County Council, Devon Waste Management, GrantScape and Natural England 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Petition launched to press for better protected seas

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) officially launched its Petition Fish campaign on Friday 29 July to push for effective marine reserves around Devon as part of a network of marine protected areas throughout the UK. The launch was held at Wembury Marine Centre. The petition has already gained significant support over the past few months with many specially-produced foil fish scales already signed by people visiting the Centre. A similar petition was organised in 2007 to push for an effective Marine and Coastal Access Act and now the charity, in conjunction with Wildlife Trusts across the country, plans to collect thousands of signatures from people who would like to see areas of sea and coastline protected for the benefit of both people and wildlife. Peter Burgess, DWT's Conservation Advocacy Manager said: "It is essential that the proposed network of Marine Conservation Zones which has been promised as part of the Marine Act is put into place by the end of next year. It has taken a great deal of public support and effort to get to this stage and we now urge people to help us make sure we don't lose momentum. These zones need to be in the right place, well managed and support recovery from past decline if we are to achieve our aim for Living Seas." Some of the sites around Devon's coast which are proposed as areas to receive greater protection include the north Devon coast between Bideford and Foreland Point, and areas in Torbay. Peter added: "At present our seas are a shadow of their former selves. For centuries, we have taken our sea's riches for granted, taking too much with too little care. At present, only 2% of the UK's sea area has even a minimal level of protection for wildlife and less than 0.001% is fully protected from all damaging activities. We need a healthy, well protected sea so it can survive the many demands humans put on it." The organisation will be promoting the petition through its range of events at Wembury Marine Centre and at other locations over the summer starting this weekend with National Marine Weeks. The plan is to present all the signed Petition Fish from across the region to Government next year to make sure its acts decisively so that the network of reserves is in place by the end of 2012. For more information about the campaign and to sign a virtual scale online visit Ref: DWT 27 July 2011

Adopt a species scheme expands to help the hog

This summer Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) is expanding its range of online gifts with the addition of the option to adopt a hedgehog as part of the charity's Help the Hog campaign. The 'Adopt a species' scheme, launched in 2009 through the DWT website,  allows people to support the Trust's conservation work in Devon, protecting habitats and species for future generations to enjoy. People can choose to 'adopt' from a list of five wonderful species: dormouse, otter, dolphin, bat and now hedgehog. With each £20 donation, purchasers will receive a soft toy of their chosen species along with a welcome letter, fact sheet and certificate, a postcard of the species, a fun activity book and a pack of six colouring pencils. Phoebe Grubb, from DWT said: 'This is a great way for people to support our new campaign - adopt a species makes the perfect alternative gift for friends and family! The Help the hog campaign has really taken off this year, we have received more than 2,500 records of hedgehogs from around the county and early signs do seem to confirm our fears that these amazing mammals are in decline in Devon.' The money raised through the initiative will go towards the costs of carrying out conservation work throughout the county benefiting these species and the habitats that they need to thrive. To adopt a hedgehog today, visit or call Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244. Ref: DWT 20 July 2011
Photo copyright Hugh Clark

Friday, 17 June 2011

Charity gets kit for frits

A leading South West conservation charity has this month been testing out its new machinery which is set to help boost the fortunes of a number of fritillary butterfly species on Dartmoor. Last year Devon Wildlife Trust was awarded money by Viridor Credits Environmental Company, through the Landfill Communities Fund and has purchased a new alpine tractor and two quad bikes to help with its conservation work. The new kit will be used at four of the charity's key nature reserves: Blackadon, Dart Valley, Dunsford and Emsworthy on Dartmoor. The low ground pressure alpine tractor is specially designed for safe use on steep slopes like those found in Dartmoor's valleys. The quad bikes will be used in width-restricted areas that the tractor is unable to access. This equipment will enable DWT's reserves staff to better manage the sites for these rare and threatened species. The Pasquali alpine tractor's small wide wheels and low centre of gravity make it safe to use on the Dartmoor valleys' steep slopes, and it even bends in the middle to help it negotiate boulders. All the vehicles will be used to cut and collect bracken, which is a key task in managing land for the endangered fritillaries' recovery. Matt Boydell, DWT's Land Management Manager said: "This is a significant boost for us and will help us manage these more difficult sites and create and expand the habitats which these butterflies thrive on. The project focuses on the management of south facing bracken slopes, increasing spring-flowering plant species including violets and bugle which are the food plants of the larvae and adults of rare fritillary butterflies such as the pearl- and small-pearl bordered. To get this equipment in place will help us greatly in our management this year and for many years to come." For more information about the project visit
Reserves. Assistant Andrew Warren tries out DWT's new quad bike

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


The launch of the Government's Natural Environment White Paper today has been welcomed by the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT). However the charity has cautioned that its encouraging words now need to be followed by urgent action. DWT Director Paul Gompertz said: "For decades now, governments everywhere have been long on promises and short on action when it comes to maintaining the diversity of life on the planet. There is a real danger that this is just another set of fine words paving the way to a looming breakdown of natural systems."We welcome much of the content of today's Natural Environment White Paper and are pleased to see such a broad spectrum of proposed action, but we're reminded of the Marine Act which offered fantastic promises but remains to prove itself in the implementation." The commitment to be 'the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than it inherited' is obviously laudable. However, this country made the same commitment ten years ago, and failed. Since then 30% cuts have been made to the Department which might be expected to lead on this. And the document still insists that 'economic growth and the natural environment are mutually compatible', even though we live in a planet which is consuming at three times the rate nature can provide. Paul added: "This is more Vision document than White Paper, since it doesn't propose any significant legislation. Visions are easy on the Treasury. The principles are all sound - the document speaks the right language - but these worthy aspirations now need to be translated into urgent and substantial gains for Devon's wildlife and wild places."

Monday, 6 June 2011

Barnstaple comes alive for Wildlife Festival

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) held its annual Wildlife Festival in Barnstaple on Saturday as part of the 13th North Devon Festival. It was the charity's fifth annual Wildlife Festival and ran between 10am and 4pm. The event featured many wildlife-themed exhibits and activities aimed at keeping families entertained. It began with a parade through the High Street with a samba band and giant bug stilt walkers, all led by the Mayor of the town who brought the parade to the Square and officially opened the event. Jo Pullin, DWT's event organiser said: "This year's event was a real success with over 3,000 people attending. We had Vintage Mobile Cinema showing wildlife films and over 100 nest boxes were made, which is always a firm favourite at our festivals. We would like to thank all the volunteers who help make the event possible and luckily the weather held off despite a short shower in the afternoon. Look out for us at a town near you next year!" This year's event was generously sponsored by BID Barnstaple, The Bridge Trust and South West Water. Photo: Wildlife Festival Stilt Walkers copyright Devon Wildlife Trust

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Big Garden Birdwatch 2011 Results

The Big Garden Birdwatch 2011 results are here! Wow! Over 600,000 of you took part in this year's Big Garden Birdwatch. Not only does that make 2011 a record-breaking year for the number of people watching their garden birds, but your counts also revealed some exciting news about our smaller birds. Click here to view results in your area.  
The 2011 Big Garden Birdwatch top 10; Position Species
1 house sparrow
2 starling
3 blackbird
4 blue tit
5 chaffinch
6 woodpigeon
7 great tit
8 goldfinch
9 robin 
10 collared dove 

Next Event

Thursday, 5 May 2011


One of the highlights of the summer at Hartland Abbey will be the arrival of BBC's Antiques Roadshow on Thursday 7th July, starting at 10 a.m.. It is a great honour to be hosting it in this beautiful corner of North Devon which is easily accessible from Junction 27 of the M5 or from the A39. We are within easy reach of all Devon, Cornwall and Somerset with the City of Plymouth, and towns of Launceston, Holsworthy, Okehampton, Torrington, Bideford, Barnstaple, Crediton and Tiverton nearby. The house itself will be closed to visitors on that day only as it will be used as part of the show. However the gardens should be looking lovely and will be open as normal; if you are planning to visit anyway come along and perhaps bring some family heirloom with you too! The walk to the beach will also be open as normal and there will be a large variety of refreshments available, many supporting local charities. Contact TEL NO: Tel: 01237 441264/234 EMAIL:

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Royal Wedding Watch

North Devon prepares to celebrate William and Kate's Big Day with a host of Street Parties around the Region. Clovelly are holding a street party to celebrate the occasion and you can watch the Royal Wedding on a widescreen TV at 11:30 am. The Royal Street Party starts at 2:30 p.m. with a complimentary glass of Bucks fizz or fruit cocktail to toast the happy couple. There follows a children's tea party with jelly and ice cream, BBQ burger or hotdog for adults, a scone with jam & cream, all for just £1 each. Children can have their faces painted, enter a fancy dress prize competition for the best Prince and Princess and enjoy a treasure hunt. There'll be a specially brewed real ale on sale, a prize draw in aid of the S.W. Children's Hospice and live music. The New Inn will also be hosting a cocktail party with disco and karaoke in the evening.
Royal Wedding Street Party Date: Friday, 29th April Location: New Inn, Clovelly Normal admission charges apply Visit Clovelly Web Site
NORTH Devon is getting ready to break out the bunting and celebrate the Royal Wedding in style......Visit the North Devon Gazette for more events around the region 

The wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton will be available to watch on the Royal Channel Live Stream, accompanied by a live multi-media blog put together by St. James's Palace......visit The Royal Wedding Official Site
BBC Royal Wedding Features, Wedding Route, Updates & Video

Monday, 18 April 2011

Devon residents invited to help the hog

A local wildlife charity has launched a new campaign to find out more about the current state of the hedgehog population in Devon. Devon Wildlife Trust is asking local people to send in records of hedgehog sightings in or near their garden over the last few years via its website. There is growing evidence which suggests that the hedgehog population is in decline throughout the UK and this much loved animal is becoming a rarer sight. Although the reason behind this decline is not yet clear, it is thought that the loss of green space in the urban environment one factor. Stephen Hussey DWT's Communications Coordinator said: "We decided to launch this campaign to involve local people in recording the wildlife on their doorstep. The hedgehog is a well known species and it's easy to recognise. People know them as a common visitors to Devon gardens and we want to find out if there really is a problem in our region." Its not all doom and gloom, there are a number of things that people can do in their own garden to help hedgehogs. Stephen added: "From making your garden more wildlife friendly, feeding your local hedgehog dog food and water (not bread and milk), to ensuring your pond is safe for these lovable creatures, there are plenty of things you can do to help. We have lots of useful tips and information on our website for people who want to know more." For more information helping the hog or to fill in a survey form visit

Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Challenges 2011 Fancy a challenge this year? Devon Wildlife Trust is running its first ever sponsored cycle challenges in May and July. Click on the link below to find out more!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Ponies used to help restore rare grassland habitat at Bridgelea

Four hardy moorland ponies have this month been brought in to graze a rare Culm grassland site in central Devon as part of Devon Wildlife Trust's Working Wetlands project. The 2.5 hectare site at Bridgelea near Sampford Courtenay had been in need of attention for several years. The Working Wetlands project awarded the landowners a grant to carry out scrub clearance and install stockproof fencing which has enabled the re-introduction of grazing. The four ponies are part of the Devon Wildlife Trust's Grazing Links scheme, an initiative which brings people with livestock together with landowners in need of grazing for their holdings. It is hoped that the ponies will help to open up the habitat and allow a broad range of wild flower species to become more widely established across the site. This increase in the range of wild flowers will benefit a host of insects, which in turn will support healthy populations of birds and small mammals. This initiative was only made possible by the generous funding of Devon Waste Management. Their support has enabled the Working Wetlands project to set up and administer a small grant award initiative which offers landowners financial support to carry out capital works on wildlife-rich sites in the Culm Measures. Devon Wildlife Trust's Mike Symes oversaw the introduction of grazing and said: "Bridgelea is a great site but its value for wildlife was being lost due to scrub encroachment and a lack of grazing. Now, as a result of the funding provided by Devon Waste Management, the important Culm grassland habitat will be restored through improved, sympathetic land management." Bob and Joy Tucker, the landowners at Bridgelea, added: "When we moved here we knew that the land was in need of some careful management, but we didn't know where to start. Devon Wildlife Trust has enabled us to embark on this exciting project and we are really looking forward to seeing the field transformed year by year, allowing  the more delicate and vulnerable species that could not compete with the rushes to  establish themselves."
Ponies at Bridgelea photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust 
Working Wetlands is a seven year landscape scale project working across 65,000 hectares of the Culm Natural Area. It has been supported by South West Water, Tubney Charitable Trust, The Environment Agency, Devon County Council, Devon Waste Management, GrantScape and Natural England.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group calls for sightings of rare newt!

Although frogs and newts are familiar from ponds and gardens, globally amphibians are one of the most threatened creatures on earth. In order to help conserve one of the UK's rarest amphibians the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group, with funding from the Devon Biodiversity Partnership and help from the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, has recently set up a Great Crested Newt Project. As part of this they are looking for help in locating records of the rare and protected Great Crested Newt, which is currently only known to exist in a few ponds in the county. Great Crested Newts are much larger (up to 17cm long) than the small newts (around 10cm long) more commonly found in our ponds. The body is dark brown to black in colour with a warty appearance. Male Great Crested Newts can be identified by the jagged crest running along their back. Newts have a similar life cycle to frogs and toads, hibernating through the winter months and returning to breed in ponds in the spring. Nicky Green, Chair of the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG) said: 'The Great Crested Newt is thought to be virtually extinct in Devon. However, there have been new recorded sightings across the county, which suggest that there are more of them out there than previously thought. In order to help conserve this rare and fascinating species we need as many records of sightings as possible'. If you think you may have seen Great Crested Newts in your pond please contact or 01626 834422 with the location, post code and date of the sighting. A Great Crested Newt identification and conservation pack is available for respondents.

Photo copyright James Grundy: (All rights reserved)
About Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group
DRAG is the county’s amphibian and reptile voluntary body, with more than 100 members. The group aims to promote the conservation of amphibians and reptiles and their habitats in the county. DRAG record, monitor and survey amphibians and reptiles in Devon.The Great Crested Newt Project has been funded by the Devon Biodiversity Partnership and the Devon Biodiversity Record Centre. The project aims to increase our knowledge of the distribution of Great Crested Newts in the county so they are better able to promote their conservation and ensure they are not adversely affected by development activities.The Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) is Britain’s largest and most threatened newt. The body is dark brown to black in colour with a warty appearance. It has a bright orange belly with black markings.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Peppercombe Chronicles - Brighter days and babbling brooks

26th February. The sun has come out at last. The recent heavy rainfall has resulted in the formation of many rivulets forging channels as they travel down the valley to the sea. The surplus water runs off the upper meadows on both sides of the valley and the two main streams merge just under the bridge at the Coastguard cottages. Mini babbling brooks are also created alongside the path all the way down occasionally pooling where leaves have blocked the way. The odd bird chirps but the main action today seems to be the hundreds of starlings roosting along the electricity wires on the A39 at Horns Cross.  Down by Peppercombe Meadows two buzzards are battling above the coastpath. Although Clovelly is visible across Bideford Bay, Lundy is not. Spring is breaking now in earnest and the first spikes of the ransoms are pushing through on the banks beside the track which, sadly, are still being eroded. Soon Peppercombe will take on a yellow glow when carpeted by flowering primroses, lesser celandine, daffodils and lofty Alexanders. As February draws to a close the early morning frost has returned, so it seems Spring is not quite here yet!. The starlings are a regular sight now swirling aloft like a cloud then settling on the hedgerows around the field.
Lundy high, sign of dry
Lundy plain, sign of rain
Lundy low, sign of snow

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

North Devon otter video makes a splash at film festival!

A film capturing wild otters in their natural environment shot by Devon Wildlife Trust's Senior Nature Reserves Officer Gary Pilkington has been shortlisted for an award. Gary managed to film the family of otters one day when out working on Marsland Nature Reserve near Hartland. The footage which has already had thousands of views on You Tube was submitted to the Borderlines Film Festival at the end of the year. Now it has been shortlisted for the Under Open Skies Harry Williamson Award for the best amateur and professional films on Britain's natural world. This is the first time the competition has been run and it was set up in honour of Harry Williamson, a very dedicated and prolific amateur film-maker. The prize is sponsored by Wyevale Nurseries. Borderlines Film Festival runs throughout Herefordshire and Shropshire and will screen at 37 venues from 25 March to 10 April. With over 220 screenings and events it is the UK's largest rural film festival. Gary said: "It's great to be shortlisted for this award, I have managed this reserve for more than 20 years and never seen an otter so it was a shock and real surprise to be in the right place in the right time with my camera at hand. The otters didn't seem to mind me being around at all and as the footage shows the two young ones had probably not had any contact with humans, they seemed fully at ease playing about in the stream." Gary will find out in early April whether he has won the prize.
Here is the video for you all to enjoy

Good Luck Gary

Thursday, 24 February 2011

First Footing! - Spring breaks at Welcombe

20th February. A trip down to Welcombe Mouth, one of my favourite secluded coves on the wild North Devon Heritage Coast. Stong winds, good light, heavy ocean spray above high rolling surf. The first sighting of a number of Coltsfoot peeking through the undergrowth, sure sign that Spring is on the way. The flower heads, similar to a Dandelion, appear before the leaves on this hardy little plant which was once used as a remedy for coughs and colds. Coltsfoot is prevalent on the boggy grassland above the beach. Looks like it is also the first flight for an orange tailed bumble bee and two caterpillars are out for a walk. I am hoping that the motionless bumble bee hiding in the grass is just enjoying an afternoon siesta. Welcombe Mouth is located on the outer limits of the North Devon Area of Natural Beauty. A quiet spot, popular with surfers, photographers and walkers. The secluded beach has good sand at low tide and is surrounded by high cliffs. There is a superb panorama from high on the Southwest Coast Path. Welcombe Mouth is accessed by car from the A39, the road winds down to the scattered village of Welcombe which is home to the Yarner Trust, Welcombe Pottery and the Old Smithy Inn. The last part of the road is not surfaced so great care must be taken.

Welcombe Bytes: Spectacular rugged rock formations, big stepping stones across the mouth of the fast running stream linking one side of the South West Coast Path to the other. The water cascades down over the rocks. Waterfall visible from the beach and from the coast path. Site of Special Scientific interest.  In 1970, at the height of their fame, the band Deep Purple stayed at the Hermitage while writing their second album "Fireball". St. Nectan's Church St. Nectan was the first Devon Saint and Martyr. He was venerated in the Hartland area and the churches at Welcombe and Stoke are dedicated to him. Across the road from the Church is St. Nectan's Well. If you know what type of butterflies these will become leave a comment!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Appeal launched to extend charity nature reserve At Dunsdon

Devon Wildlife Trust has launched an appeal to its members and local people in the hope that it can raise money to extend one of its nature reserves and preserve some of the county's rarest wildlife. The charity has just been given the chance to add new land to its Dunsdon National Nature Reserve, which lies at the very heart of the Culm Measures in the north west of Devon. The five hectares of SSSI land for sale abut the eastern end of the existing 63 hectare site. The charity has been offered £43,000 towards the purchase by GrantScape, who have funded a wealth of groundbreaking conservation work in this area over the past four years. Devon Wildlife Trust is now looking for another £10,000 in order to complete the purchase. Gary Pilkington, DWT's Senior Reserves Officer said: "Dunsdon is a large reserve that buzzes and bursts with wildlife. Damp acid soils and a history of traditional, sympathetic farming provide ideal conditions for such rare plants as the lesser butterfly orchid, wavy-leaved St John's wort and three-leaved water crowfoot. This rich flora supports an amazing array of other wildlife. Twenty-six species of butterfly make their homes here, including a large nationally important population of rare marsh fritillaries. Breeding birds include herons, skylarks, spotted flycatchers, willow tits and grasshopper warblers. Barn owls hunt over the fields and can sometimes be seen roosting in the trees. The new parcel of land has fantastic potential for these and many other species." The site is also a strategic point on the map for DWT's Working Wetlands team who are helping neighbouring farmers to restore and re-create a network of wildlife habitats on their own holdings around Dunsdon. This gives the new land huge importance as a key link in a chain of joined-up Culm grassland sites. To donate to the appeal either call Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244 or visit

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Peppercombe in the Mist.

Peppercombe Chronicles 19th February Yet another dank, dismal February day but mid-morning a sea mist rolled in, not great light this time of year for photographs but there is always something happening down Peppercombe Valley. The grey mist made for a very ethereal experience. A single yellow flowering lesser celandine amidst the new green shoots beside the path was the only colourful sign of Spring. The catkins and smattering of snowdrops have been out for a couple of weeks now. An occasional flaming red elf cup can be seen snuggling down amongst fallen twigs and branches. I hardly recognise the place which seems strangely empty due to fallen or lopped trees and flattened bracken. For the first time ever I am aware of the precipitous drop from the path and unusually can see clearly over to the lower track and the fast running stream. Spring Beauty, Wood Sorrel, Bluebell Spikes, Daffodil shoots and Dogs Mercury rising.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Bideford Railway Tracks…..

I thought I would share these pictures with all you Bideford Railway history enthusiasts. The photos are dated 1976 and 1993 and were contributed by Philip Lindhurst, whose lifelong interest in Railway Stations was instigated in 1976 while on holiday at his Aunt and Uncle’s in Landcross. His Aunt took him on a trip to see the old Bideford station and Philip, who lives in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire has “walked many an old railway line” since. One of the photos taken on that day was of the old Booking Office which was, for many years occupied, by the Midland Bank. In the photo you can see the name over the door. This building is now the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre and the local office for the North Devon AONB. Many of the old stations across the country are now private homes but Philip finds that people are only too happy to share memories or show him round. One such occasion was in Frongoch, North Wales when a lady allowed him to go round the back to photograph the platforms. He was especially pleased to see the old signal box was still standing and she kindly opened it up so he could take more pictures inside. She said that at one time this particular station had two waiting rooms, one for the ladies and one for the gents. The “Gents” is now her front room and the “Ladies” is now the kitchen!  Philip has worked on the London Underground for the past forty years but still enjoys hunting out old railway stations and has built up an extensive archive of photographs, remnants of a bygone age when the Railways were the most important mode of transport especially in rural areas. Some of Philip’s photos are on display in the old Bideford Railway Carriage which is open for refreshments in the holiday season. Philip has taken pictures of Bideford Railway Station in 1976, 1993 and 2008. The old Bideford railway line now forms part of the 180 mile Tarka Trail. Click here to Explore Bideford Railway Station and the Tarka Trail with the North Devon Focus - All images, articles on this site copyright North Devon Focus. Photos of Bideford Station copyright Philip Lindhurst

Later this year Philip and twelve friends will be taking photographs "off the beaten track" on a trip to see the old nuclear power station at Chenobyl. They will also be visiting what is now the ghost town of Pripyat which once had a population of around 49,000.
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986, at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Soviet Union). It is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history and is the only level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Click here for Chernobyl Disaster Wikipedia Stub