Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Time for a North Devon Break. Focus on Bucks Mills

Happy New Year from the North Devon Coast & Country Chronicle Time for a North Devon Break. Let's explore the quieter side of Bideford Bay around the pretty coastal village of  Bucks Mill. Bucks Mills is a hide-away village on the Atlantic Heritage coast just off the A39 Atlantic Highway between Bideford and Clovelly. Mainly comprising holiday cottages, once associated with three famous families, the Careys, The Pine-Coffins and The Braunds. This is an ideal base for South West Coastal Path Walkers with dramatic stretches to Peppercombe and Westward Ho! in one direction and Clovelly to Hartland Point in the other. No facilities in the village itself but excellent local produce and general stores sold at Bucks Cross Post Office Stores. There is a large car park before you get to the village, located down a long and winding road through ancient woodland. Excellent sandy beach with rock pools at low tide so perfect for family breaks. Nearest holiday park is Bideford Bay, just passed the post office stores, which has excellent facilities for families. Ideal location for families and walkers. Points of Interest: Church of St, Annes for Cream Teas in the Summer season and nature walks through Bucks Woods and the South West Coast Path, Lime Kiln, ancient Quay. Bucks Mills Car Park EX39 5DY: - Bus Service: 319 Barnstaple via Bideford to Bucks Cross. North Devon and Bideford Bay Area Map

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Bitter disappointment - Devon Wildlife Trust reacts to the Marine Conservation Zones consultation published today

Today Defra released its long-awaited consultation on the next stages of designation of Marine Conservation Zones in English and non-devolved waters. Along with other English Wildlife Trusts, Devon Wildlife Trust is bitterly disappointed by the lack of ambition shown in this consultation. Defra proposes to designate only 31 of the 127 sites recommended by experts and stakeholders at the end of August last year. This includes just 4 of the 14 sites recommended around the coasts of Devon. The four are Tamar Estuary; Skerries Bank and Surround; Torbay; and Lundy. The 127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones were chosen after two years of hard work by more than one million stakeholders from all sectors of the marine environment and at a cost of over £8.8 million to Government. Devon Wildlife Trust worked closely with a range of sea users from fishermen to offshore developers and sea anglers to boat users to reach consensus about which sites should go forward. There are huge gaps in the Government's proposals for the first round of designation. Of particular concern are:
  • No sites in North Devon: Bideford to Foreland Point and Morte Platform, both put forward by local people in recognition of its marine wildlife value - missing. North of Lundy, subject to ground breaking discussions around co-location of marine protection and development - missing. Hartland Point to Tintagel, high habitat and species diversity - missing. And the Taw-Torridge Estuary, a vital part of the north Devon coastal ecosystem - missing. 
  • No small estuaries in South Devon: The Erme Estuary - missing. The Devon Avon Estuary - missing. The Axe Estuary - missing. The Otter Estuary - missing. And the Dart Estuary - missing. This despite hours of negotiations with ports and harbours to minimise impacts on local commerce. 
You can visit these zones on The Wildlife Trusts interactive map and see some of the wonders they are home to at: Devon Wildlife Trust's Marine Advocacy Officer, Richard White, reacted to the Government's announcement: "Marine Conservation Zones should protect the species and habitats found within them from the most damaging and degrading of activities whilst mostly allowing sustainable activity to continue. The network was designed to ensure that we don't end up with isolated and vulnerable sites and to ensure that the wide range of marine habitats found in UK seas are protected. Failure to designate all but a very small proportion of sites recommended by these stakeholders will mean that we lack the ecologically coherent network that our seas so badly need to recover." The UK's marine habitats are rich and diverse but largely unprotected - which is why The Wildlife Trusts spent a decade asking the Government to pass the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. This included a commitment to designate this ecologically coherent marine network of protected areas. Designation of an ecologically coherent network would provide our seas with the protection they need to recover from past abuses and help them to be restored to their full potential. The Wildlife Trusts will be responding to the Government consultation at the end of January. They will be publishing their recommendations on the consultation on their webpage. Get involved now and sign up to become an MCZ friend so that we can contact you about the consultation in the New Year. Go to to sign up.
Thornback Ray, Sea Slug, Moon Jellyfish, Grey Seal 
All photos copyright Paul Naylor (

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Recognition for local volunteers

A leading local charity, Devon Wildlife Trust, has recently achieved the Investing in Volunteers Quality Standard, recognising the excellent work it does with volunteers. Devon Wildlife Trust regularly receives help from more than 300 volunteers, all of whom give up their time and talents to help the charity's vital work for local wildlife. The Trust's Dawn Lenn, who coordinates their efforts said: 'This has come as wonderful news. We try hard to manage volunteers well and to give people the opportunity to contribute positively to nature conservation. It's lovely to know we are getting it right. The benefit to Devon Wildlife Trust's work is tremendous with the number of hours volunteers donate each year in the tens of thousands.' Investing in Volunteers is the UK quality standard for all organisations involving volunteers. It aims to improve the quality of the volunteering experience for all volunteers and for organisations to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by volunteers. The award scheme is managed by the UK Volunteering Forum and delivered by Volunteering England. Devon Wildlife Trust was assessed against a range of best practice standards and proved to excel in all aspects of working with its volunteers. Dawn added: 'DWT was set up by volunteers 50 years ago, and volunteers have remained central to its activities ever since. I hope that achieving this award in our 50th anniversary year will help demonstrate to everyone who ever helped DWT just how highly they are regarded.' Devon Wildlife Trust's volunteers come from all backgrounds and all parts of the county. The range of tasks they undertake varies from office administration to undertaking practical management tasks on the Trust's nature reserves. Anyone wishing to join as a volunteer should visit or call 01392 279244.

Friday, 7 December 2012


Have you considered walking on a bed of hot coals? Well you can do it, you won't even need a stout pair of walking boots to take part in this alternative sponsored walk which are being held at the BIG Sheep on Sunday 16th December 2012. The chosen charity for this year's firewalk is Age Concern, however you are welcome to chose a chairty of your own. Fortunately, you do not need any experience to take part in this extraordinary event so if you would like to get involved you can contact Cathy Edwards on 01271 371343 or email for a sponsorship pack. If you'd just like to offer your support we are offering FREE admission to watch the participants complete their challenge.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Devon Doctors to help wildlife

The organisation responsible for the county's urgent GP out-of-hours healthcare has teamed up with Devon Wildlife Trust [DWT] in a bid to do its bit for the county's environment. As a social enterprise, committed to benefiting the community in which it operates, Devon Doctors has always attached great importance to environmental issues and jumped at the opportunity to become a corporate sponsor of Devon Wildlife Trust. Chief executive Chris Wright said: "While our first priority is always the wellbeing of our patients, we're mindful that we also have a responsibility to the environment and are at pains to ensure our carbon footprint is as small as possible." "Wherever we can we endeavour to assist callers to Devon Doctors over the phone but there will, inevitably, be occasions when we need to visit patients who are especially vulnerable, and unable to get to one of our treatment centres, in their homes. Indeed, last year our GPs visited more than 30,000 patients, as a result of which our drivers clocked up more than half-a-million miles." "While this is unavoidable, we're delighted to be able to redress the balance a little by lending our support to DWT." DWT's chief executive Harry Barton said: "We're thrilled to have the support of another not-for-profit organisation, which shares our aim of keeping Devon healthy. We look forward to working together for the benefit of the natural environment." In due course, Devon Doctors is looking forward to supporting DWT's Working Wetlands project and, in so doing, offsetting some part of its carbon footprint. The initiative involves the restoration of wetland areas, with the capacity to absorb atmospheric carbon in a similar way to coal but much more quickly, and is regarded as a local, long-term and effective alternative to standard offset schemes. What is more, Devon Doctors will be encouraging its staff to transform their gardens, and other locations, into bee-friendly zones in support of DWT's 2013 campaign to Get Devon Buzzing. This vital project encourages the use of plants that support the local bee population by providing bee homes, as well as campaigning for a reduction in the use of pesticides. "Devon Doctors is already acknowledged as one of the country's leading providers of urgent out-of hours care," said Mr Wright. "However, as a social enterprise, our corporate responsibility doesn't stop there and we look forward to working in partnership with DWT and to encouraging both staff and service users to protect the environment."
Devon Wildlife Trust's Tracey Ebbrell presents Devon Doctors Chief Executive, Chris Wright, with a certificate in recognition of their support. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

It's 'Ho-ho-ho-wholemeal' at Cricklepit Mill

A festive treat awaits visitors to one of Exeter's least known but most charismatic historic treasures. Devon Wildlife Trust is staging a Christmas-themed open day at its Cricklepit Mill headquarters, close to Exeter's ancient quayside. The 'Milling and Mince Pie' event takes place on Friday 14 December between 10am and 12noon. It is free, but booking is advised. On the day Christmas decorations will adorn the C18th watermill. Visitors will have a chance to see behind the scenes, watching the mill at work, grinding flour in the traditional way. A band of merry millers will be on hand to guide people through the fascinating processes and history of milling. At the end of their visit people will be able to re-fuel on mince pies made from the mill's own stoneground flour and locally-produced mincemeat. On sale will be a selection of the charity's Christmas cards, calendars, along with bags of wholemeal stoneground flour complete with free festive recipe leaflets. The Trust's Verity Hunt added: 'Cricklepit Mill is a wonderful old building, but at Christmas it becomes a magical one. Its ancient atmosphere combines with festive decorations to give a real sense of Christmas past.' 'The flour we produce here makes a wonderful and unusual Christmas gift. Cricklepit Mill is the only remaining working watermill in Exeter and our open days make a great way to explore this important part of the city's heritage. Taking home a bag of flour at the end of their visit gives people a fitting memento.' All proceeds from the sale of flour and Christmas gifts go to support The Trust's important work for wildlife across the county. Bookings for 'Milling and mince pies' are being taken now. Call Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244 or email
'Devon Wildlife Trust's Cricklepit Mill is a magical place at

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Show your landscape some love

Those who live in the catchment of the river Torridge will know that it's a spectacular and unique wildlife-rich landscape. Local people, landowners and land managers may be interested to hear of a major new project which aims to help boost both wildlife and communities in the area. As the run up to Christmas accelerates, staff of the new Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area project will be at an event near you. They are looking forward to talking more about the free advice available for landowners and the community activities the project will be supporting and how people can get involved. Meet the NIA team and get involved! You can meet members of the NIA team and find out more at the Big Sheep Christmas Fair at Abbotsham every Saturday up until Christmas, and also at Holsworthy Christmas Market on Wednesday 12 December and Okehampton Christmas market on Saturday 15 December. We are also offering the chance to get out in the fresh air, meet new people and start the new year health kick early; simply call phone 01409 221823 or email to get involved in the following forthcoming events in our community volunteer programme: 
  • Thurs 20 December 10am-3pm - Specott Moor scrub clearance (off the Tarka Trail at East Yarde) 
  • Tues 22 January 10am-3pm - Otter holt & small mammal/bird boxes Higher Kingford Farm, Pancrasweek 
  • Friday 8th February 10am-3pm - Stowford Moor hazel coppice and scrub clearance 
  • February mid-week - Thorn Moor Swaling (dates subject to suitable weather conditions) 
  • Sunday 10th March - Ford Wood woodland management NIA Champions! 
As part of our community programme we are also on the look out people interested in wildlife who would like to take an active role to work with the NIA in their community. You might already be involved with wildlife activities or a local group, perhaps you're keen to develop your skills and knowledge or perhaps you know of someone else who fits the bill. Contact the NIA Community Outreach team for an informal discussion. 
So what exactly is the NIA? The Northern Devon NIA is a partnership project led by Devon Wildlife Trust on behalf of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve Partnership. Covering 72,000 ha (the greater part of the river Torridge catchment), the Northern Devon NIA hosts 35% of the UK's remaining Culm grassland, 120 scheduled plants and animals, and important populations of two of Europe's ten most threatened species - the marsh fritillary butterfly and the freshwater pearl mussel. It also includes wooded lower valleys that flank the river Torridge; a feature of great biodiversity interest, but in much need of restoration. Over the next three years and beyond, the Nature Improvement Area project aims to restore and re-create internationally important habitats such as Culm grasslands, wetlands, neutral meadows, woodlands, hedgerows, rivers and streams across Northern Devon's unique Torridge river catchment. We will also help to develop the local woodland economy and will be working with the local community to achieve all this through a diverse programme of events and activities. 
This project has been supported by Defra, DCLG, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission and Natural England. The Northern Devon NIA is one of the 12 nationally important new landscape scale wildlife schemes across England. It was developed as a partnership project within the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The partnership consists of 16 different organisations, of which Devon Wildlife Trust is the project's lead partner.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Charity clears way ahead for wildflowers

A leading wildlife charity is launching a winter programme of work designed to restore one of the county's best and most unusual sites for wildflowers. Increasing the range and numbers of wildflowers will form the focus of newly-funded work at Devon Wildlife Trust's Sourton Quarry nature reserve which lies in west Devon between Tavistock and Okehampton. As the name suggests, Sourton Quarry was once a thriving limestone quarry. But since its abandonment in 1906 it has been transformed into a wildlife haven and its spoil heaps in particular have become a wonderful new home to plants that thrive in its limestone soils. The long list of plant colonists has come to include rarities and more common examples including the rusty-backed fern, black knapweed, wild strawberry, great mullein and fairy flax. However, in recent years these wonderful wildflowers have come under threat. Other plants, including ivy, bramble and cotoneaster, as well as trees, have all started to take a hold on the nature reserve, shading out its delicate flowers. In response DWT formulated a plan of action designed to reverse this process. But before putting it into place funding was needed. It was at this point that Biffa Award stepped in to make the crucial difference agreeing to fund a winter's programme of practical work. Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey reacted to the good news: 'The generous funding from Biffa Award is just what was needed. It will pay for vital work clearing invasive plant scrub and providing the space and conditions for wildflowers to flourish. It will set the nature reserve and its wildflowers firmly on the right path.' The Sourton Quarry Wildflower Discovery Project forms part of a wider multi-million pound environment fund managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT), which utilises landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services. For more information about Sourton nature reserve and the work of Devon Wildlife Trust visit 
Beautiful black knapweed is just one of the many wildflowers which will benefit from improvements at Devon Wildlife Trust's Sourton nature reserve. Photo copyright Sherie New - (

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Heritage and Herrings. Ahoy there Clovelly!

We had a great time at the Clovelly Herring Festival on Sunday 18th. I hope we captured the spirit of the day in these photographs. Check out some of the slideshow below:

Monday, 19 November 2012

Charity offers peaceful alternative to Christmas shopping

Devon Wildlife Trust is staging a festive family event at its historic Cricklepit Mill, in the heart of Exeter. Christmas at Cricklepit takes place between 10.30am and 3.30pm on Saturday 1st December and is free. The day promises families a change of scene and pace from the hurly-burly of Christmas shopping. Visitors will be treated to seasonal storytelling, children's Christmas craft making, a chance to make winter bird food treats, and even the opportunity of meeting Father Christmas himself! Mince pies and hot drinks will be available, while visitors can also buy from the charity's wonderful range of Christmas cards, calendars and other wildlife-related gifts. Devon Wildlife Trust's Jo Pullin, who is organising the day, said: 'This is always a popular and inexpensive event for local families. It's a chance to have some fun, to explore our historic mill building and make a difference to wildlife. At a time when shopping and spending money seem to dominate, Christmas at Cricklepit shows people that there is a different side to the festive season, and certainly a more tranquil one!' Devon Wildlife Trust's Cricklepit Mill can be found in Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4AB and two minutes walk from Exeter's historic quayside. There is no parking at the Mill, but on street parking and car parks can be found close by. For more information about this event and the work of Devon Wildlife Trust visit
Cricklepit Mill's visitor area and gardens are open to the public 9am-5pm weekdays, throughout the year (except Bank Holidays). Entrance is free. Children coming to this event must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Charity digs for wildlife. Good news about a brighter future for our trees and woodlands.

After all the bad headlines concerning ash dieback, a Devon-based charity is now providing good news about a brighter future for our trees and woodlands. Devon Wildlife Trust is planning to plant more than 1,000 throughout Exeter in its 'The Big Tree Plant' initiative which aims to attract more attractive green spaces for the city's people and wildlife. The charity will be working with community groups including more than 500 local school children to plant native trees which include rowan, oak, hazel, alder and hawthorn, along with fruit trees including cherry and apple. The project, which will plant more than 3,000 trees over the next three years, has been funded by Defra and The Alcoa Foundation. The Big Tree Plant begins with a community-led initiative in the Pennsylvania area of the city. On Saturday 18 November residents organisation, the Sylvania Environment and Community Group, will be working with Devon Wildlife Trust to plant nearly 200 trees in green spaces on their patch. While on Tuesday and Wednesday 20-21 November hundreds of students from the city's St Luke's College and Bicton College will be planting more than 800 trees around the former's school grounds. Devon Wildlife Trust's Emily Stallworthy, who is leading the project, said: 'Planting trees is a great way to improve urban areas. The positive effects made by them on people's health and well-being are well-known. Trees also play a vital role for wildlife providing food, shelter and safe corridors through the landscape. We are delighted with the response we've had from communities across the city - people really have jumped at the chance to make a long-lasting benefit to their local environment. Together we'll be making Exeter a better, greener place to live.' Gail Whalley, Deputy Head of St Luke's College, said: 'St Luke's is proud to be part of this tree-planting project for Exeter. Through Science, and our thriving Eco group and Wildlife Champions group, students are taught how vital reforestation is to the health and survival of the wildlife we love. Every Key Stage 3 student will be planting a tree on the College site and over the next few years will be able to watch their tree grow with them!' Devon Wildlife Trust is now looking for possible tree planting sites across the city. 
If you think your community could get involved contact DWT's Emily Stallworthy on 01392 279244 The Big Tree Plant forms part of Exeter Wild City, a five year partnership project between Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter City Council. The aim of the project is to improve green space for wildlife and people across the city.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Nearly New Baby & Toddler Sale at the Big Sheep

Nearly New Baby & Toddler Sale  at the Big Sheep, Abbotsham, Sunday 2nd Dec - From 10am. All proceeds to Parents of Premature and Sick Infants at North Devon District Hospital.

We all know Babies and Toddlers grow out of clothes and toys so fast! Often clothes and toys look as good as new. This is a chance to either sell on your items or purchase some bargain clothes and toys.
Great opportunity to tidy up before Christmas or buy some Christmas presents!
Interested in having a stall? Call Claire or Nicola or 01237 472366 or email Stalls are £8 each with the full £8 going to POPSI.
Interested in visiting? Put the Morning of Sunday 2nd December in your diary or on your calendar!
Entry is £1 with the full £1 going to POPSI.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Ode of Remembrance: We will remember them

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

The Nation will honour the fallen on Remembrance Sunday when wreaths of poppies are laid on local war memorials and a two minutes silence is held at 11 a.m. The "Ode of Remembrance" is an ode taken from Laurence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen", which was first published in The Times in September 1914. Wikipedia Stub:

 For Remembrance Sunday Events around the region visit the North Devon Gazette
In the United Kingdom, Remembrance Sunday is marked by ceremonies at local war memorials in most cities, towns and villages, attended by civic dignitaries, ex-servicemen and -women (principally members of the Royal British Legion), members of local armed forces regular and reserve units (Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserve, Army and Territorial Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force), military cadet forces (Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps as well as the Combined Cadet Force) and youth organisations (e.g. Scouts and Guides). Wreaths of remembrance poppies are laid on the memorials and two minutes silence is held at 11 a.m. Church bells are usually rung "half-muffled", creating a sombre effect.
Wikipedia Stub:

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Charity Christmas gifts aim to melt hearts

Following the success of its Christmas cards and gifts range in 2011, a local wildlife charity is preparing for a bumper festive season with a new range of designs. Devon Wildlife Trust has been selling Christmas cards and gifts for a number of years and in 2011 the scheme raised more than £6,000 for its vital work for wildlife across the county. This year it has added a number of new lines, each of which will melt even the coldest heart this Christmas. Red squirrels, foxes, deer and woodpeckers are amongst the stunning images featured on The Trust's Christmas cards. A 2013 calendar packed with beautiful British animals is also available. Orders can be made on-line, by phone or by post. Devon Wildlife Trust is also urging people to think of treating the wildlife-lovers in their life with a very special Christmas gift. Adopting a species makes an unusual present. Choices include bee, hedgehog, bat, otter, dormouse and dolphin - with the recipient receiving a cute soft toy, activity book, fact sheet and much more. Also available is Devon Wildlife Trust gift membership. As well as providing the opportunity for countless free days out in some of Devon's most stunning landscapes, family gift membership also includes a free illustrated book, The Seashore Detective's Handbook - the perfect accessory for rockpooling adventures in 2013. Phoebe Grubb, DWT's Fundraising Officer said: 'With Christmas now looming and the weather turning cold we have started to promote our latest range of cards and gifts. Our cards are printed on sustainably sourced card and really show off some of Devon's best-loved animals. The gifts make lovely presents and are a great way to help wildlife on your doorstep while also sending your Christmas wishes to loved ones." All the profits from the sales of Devon Wildlife Trust's cards and gifts go directly to support its work for the county's wildlife. 

 Just a selection of Devon Wildlife Trust Christmas cards for 2012.  
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 and from The Trust's Cricklepit Mill headquarters in Exeter. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Robbie Williams "Take the Crown" out today

As Robbie Williams looks to the future with the release of the incredible “Take The Crown” , his ninth studio album and his first for Island/Universal, it might also be interesting to remember his considerable achievements so far. In a career strewn with awards, Robbie has quite simply sold more records than any other British solo artist in history. Having sold a staggering 60 million albums over his solo career, Robbie has also won more Brit awards than any other artist in history ( a grand total of 17, to be precise). Six of his albums appear in the all time top 100 biggest selling albums in the UK whilst Williams appears in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling 1.6 million concert tickets in a day in 2006. In 2010 Robbie Williams won the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award at the BRITS; later that year his reformation with Take That led to their album becoming the fastest selling album of the century. Since then Robbie has been working on his brand new solo album, recorded in Los Angeles with producer Jacknife Lee. The orchestra on the album was recorded at the fabled Capitol Studios in LA. The track-listing for “Take The Crown” is:
  • BE A BOY
  • LOSERS (featuring Lissie)
The album was preceded by the single “Candy” which was released on October 29. Of this brilliantly addictive classic Robbie Williams pop song, written with Gary Barlow, Robbie says: “It’s a summer song, about a girl who thinks she’s great. And she might be, but she’s a bit nefarious with her ways. Some songs take an age to write and some songs just fall out of your mouth completely formed, and you don’t have to think about it. I don’t know why that fell out of my mouth and out of my brain at that particular time – it just did”.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Devon Wildlife Trust: Action for Ash

A leading wildlife charity is urging the Government to take action as soon as possible to prevent the spread of a disease which could be devastating to Britain's iconic ash trees. 'Ash dieback' (Chalara fraxinea) is a fungal disease, which has already devastated ash woodlands in other parts of northern Europe, and has now been found in trees in Suffolk, Norfolk and Buckinghamshire. It is estimated that ash trees make up around 30% of England's woodland cover and the thousands of miles of hedgerows which knit our landscapes together. Devon Wildlife Trust's Chief Executive, Harry Barton said: "This could be the biggest threat to our woodlands in modern times. It is essential that we learn lessons from the tragedy of Dutch elm disease and act now to coordinate effort to contain this threat and to protect our woodlands" Last week Defra Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, announced measures to control the spread of the disease. The Wildlife Trusts have urged him to enforce the ban on ash imports and to bring together appropriate scientists, commercial interests, conservation organisations and representatives of landowning bodies to plan an urgent strategy to prevent 'ash dieback' from causing long term damage to the countryside. Harry Barton said: "In the Netherlands we've seen 80% of ash trees affected. We must not let this happen here. If Government and their agencies act decisively now we may be able to check the spread of the disease." The symptoms of ash die back disease are leaf loss and dieback of the tree's crown. Devon Wildlife Trust is currently planning how it will manage this threat within its own reserves, but is urging members of the public to be vigilant and, if anyone suspects that they have seen cases of ash die back, to contact the Forestry Commission Plant Health service on 0131 314 6414. More details about Ash dieback disease can be found at Devon Wildlife Trust's website

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Wider Focus. Stepping over to Exmoor

We have walked many a trail on Exmoor around Brendon Common and Doone Valley but a couple of times a year we step over the border to visit one of Somerset’s most popular attractions, the Tarr Steps. Located in Exmoor National Park between Withypool and Dulverton, there is a car park and toilets close by. (see map). The Exmoor National Park Authority are in the process of revamping the information at Tarr Steps top car park to include new interpretation boards, a new leaflet and circular walk so watch this space. At this time of year you can hear regular Kok-Kok followed by a clapping sound, this is pheasants from a local Shoot, watch out for them flying, flapping, feeding or roosting in the trees. It’s a gentle stroll down beside a lush meadow with views over to the wooded valley. You will eventually pass by Tarr Farm Inn and Restaurant before reaching the main point of interest, the ancient clapper bridge which spans the fast-running River Barle. The lower car park is for disabled visitors only, there is an ice cream kiosk here in the Spring and Summer. The Tarr Steps, like Clovelly is probably one of the most photographed tourist attractions and is popular with amateur and professional photographers as well as happy family snappers. Beside the huge stone slabs is a busy ford, 4x4’s, horse and riders make it look easy but mountain bike enthusiasts normally have a bumpy crossing and receive applause from onlookers if they succeed without falling into the brink. Canoeing is only allowed (by arrangement) downstream of Tarr Steps in order to reduce any potential impact on breeding birds and mammals. Nature lovers please note that the woodland around here is internationally significant for the mosses, liverworts and lichens. It was made a National Reserve in 2004. Local residents include dormice, which make their home in hazel, blackberry or honeysuckle. If you’re lucky you might just spot an otter or an eel. The Jubilee Trail, part of the Golden Walk series, is a short circular walk, signposted with orange waymarks from the bridge. Please scroll down for information on the longer route from Dulverton. The area is particularly colourful towards the end of October when these photographs were taken. The green spikes amongst the rusty leaves and bracken are an indication that come Spring the woods will be filled with bluebells. Please enjoy the slide-show.

Tarr Steps is a 17 span clapper bridge (a bridge made of unmortared stone slabs), the longest of its kind in Britain.  It was first mentioned in Tudor times but may be much older.  The river has silted up over the last century and often now comes over the stones in times of flood.  The bridge has had to be repaired several times as stones of up to two tonnes have been washed up to 50 metres downstream.
Official Golden Walk from Dulverton – A varied walk taking in the Tarr Steps, the beautiful wooded valley of the River Barle, the heathland of Winsford Hill and its wild ponies. Download PDF

View Larger Map
Following the recent flood damage to Tarr Steps, the longest clapper bridge in the country, early estimates show that repairs to the rights of way network around the bridge and across Exmoor National Park are likely to cost thousands of pounds. National Park Rangers are currently busy assessing the damage in more detail..Please click here to find out more information on the Exmoor Floods

Friday, 26 October 2012


FUN BY DAY FESTIVAL 27th October until 4th November
FREE Facepainting between:
11am - 12noon- 2pm - 2.45pm- 3pm - 3.45pm 
Pumpkin Carving between: 12 noon & 4pm (Visit The BIG Sheep facebook page to claim your FREE pumpkin voucher before 31st October. See below for more details.)
Halloween Rides: Collect your Ride Times flyer on arrival to see when the Haunted House, Haunted Tractor Ride, Ghost Train and Witches Flying School is open.
Singing Pumpkins: Visit the Singing Pumpkins or our Talking Haunted Head at any time during the day.
Fancy Dress Competitions: Dress to impress for our fancy dress competitions every day!

FUN BY NIGHT Visit the BIG Sheep during the dark for a completely different Halloween experience on any of the three evening parties: Wednesday 31st October, Thursday 1st November or Friday 2nd November from 6:30pm until 10pm. Tickets for the evening parties must be booked in advance via The BIG Sheep website and tickets are only £7.50 per person
  • Haunted Hayride with Olympic Themed Frights
  • Candlelit Lakeside Ghost Train Ride
  • Haunted House
  • Halloween Pantomime with Woolly the Sheep
  • Pumpkin Parade with Prizes for the best Carved Pumpkins.
  • Ewetopia Indoor Playground & Cafe 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Chance to explore Teign valley beauty-spot. Open Day at Dunsford

Devon Wildlife Trust is running a free open day this month giving people a guided exploration of one of Devon best-loved beauty-spots.The family-friendly open day is being held at the charity's Dunsford nature reserve, which lies in the wonderful Teign Valley between Exeter and Moretonhampstead. It takes place on Saturday 20 October and runs from 11am until 4pm. The event offers a 'behind the scenes' look at the nature reserve at a time of year when its mix of woodland and heathland look at their absolute best with golden leaf colours mixing with the yellows and purples of gorse and heather. A series of guided wildlife walks and fungi forays will be led by Devon Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers. Families can try their hands at practical and creative crafts aimed. A tea and cake stall will be on hand to feed hungry visitors! Jo Pullin from Devon Wildlife Trust said: "This wonderful nature reserve looks stunning at this time of year. Open days make great introductions to our county's amazing wildlife. The day will be a great chance to visit a special piece of Devon's countryside and learn about the animals which call it home. Devon Wildlife Trust has done a great amount of work there over the last few months, so even if you think you know Dunsford I'd ask you to come along, you may be surprised." Those wishing to go on one of the walks and/or fungus forays should book in advance with Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244. For all other activities people are welcome to just come along and take part. Dunsford Nature Reserve lies directly on the B3212 Exeter to Moretonhampstead Road about 3 miles (5 km) from Moretonhampstead. The reserve entrance is near Steps Bridge. Follow event signs on the day. 
Photo: Dunsford Steps Bridge copyright  Duncan Gray/Devon Wildlife Trust 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Leaving a natural legacy. Will for Wildlife Week 15 - 21 October 2012

From cuckoos to curlews, gifts in wills can help Devon Wildlife Trust protect some of our most precious animals and natural places. During Will for Wildlife Week, from Monday 15 to Sunday 21 October, Devon Wildlife Trust is encouraging wildlife-lovers to leave a legacy that will help protect nature for future generations. Across Devon, Devon Wildlife Trust manages 48 special wild places including wetlands, wildflower meadows and urban wildlife nature reserves. A gift in someone's will can play a vital role in allowing this work to continue. Recent legacies received by Devon Wildlife Trust have been put to good use helping provide summer nest sites for swifts, restoring ancient hedgerows, creating homes for dragonflies and improving public access at nature reserves. Devon Wildlife Trust works to protect our species and habitats which are under threat and gifts in wills, of any size, can help with this work. Someone who remembers Devon Wildlife Trust in their will could help to create a new nature reserve, help with work to protect much-loved plants and animals such as providing riverbank homes for otters, or support our work to educate and empower local communities to take action for wildlife. Sir David Attenborough, President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "A legacy to your local Wildlife Trust is a very special gift that can do remarkable things to help the wildlife treasures on your doorstep. Please, consider remembering The Wildlife Trusts in your will." Dan Smith of Devon Wildlife Trust, added: "We believe many people would like to write, or update, their will to reflect their current situation but simply haven't got round to it yet. A clearly written will, kept updated throughout your life, is essential to ensure that your wishes are respected." Anyone considering leaving a gift to Devon Wildlife Trust in their should first contact The Trust's Dan Smith on 01392 279244 or email him at

Photo copyright Bryan Thorne

Friday, 12 October 2012

Games People Play (Round 2) The Secret Life of Lichens

Jo Pullin from the Devon Wildlife Trust and Barbara Benfield, a lichen expert, will be at the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) leading a family event to discover the amazing world of lichens on Sunday 21st. Activities and artwork will be child orientated but we bet adults will learn something too! "Lichen are actually made up of two organisms, algae and fungi and they have to cooperate to survive', explains Jo Pullin, "I'll be running an activity that emphasises this with the children, and they will get to invent their own creature with a symbiotic relationship." There'll be games and crafts, and we'll be creating lichen pendants from clay. Barbara Benfield will demonstrate how lichens can be used to measure air quality and families can go on a foray through the woods, collecting lichens with a spotter quiz sheet. The event is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of CCANW's current programme Games People Play which explores, through a range of exhibitions and activities that are participatory and fun, what games can tell us about 'human nature'; and how a deeper understanding of the advantages of cooperation can help us all to address the needs of the planet at this time. Come and join us and don't worry about wet weather as we have a brand new geodesic dome for workshop activities just a few yards from the centre. See you there. £2.50 per child, accompanying adults free. Bookings and payment via CCANW on 01392 832277 or Organized by Devon Wildlife Trust and CCANW
Games People Play - Round 2 The Secret Life of Lichens Family event Sun 21 October - Two sessions 11.30 -1pm or 2 - 3.30pm 
Wildlife Watch Autumn - photo copyright T. Marshall
Lichens - photo copyright A Taylor
Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World * CCANW, Haldon Forest Park, Exeter, EX6 7XR - Tel: 01392 832277 Email: Website: - Admission free. Open Tuesdays-Sundays and Bank Holidays, 10-5pm Closing at 4pm between November and February

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


The famous Pebble Ridge has always protected Northam Burrows from the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean at Westward Ho! On a damp, grey day we took a rain soaked, windswept walk from the slipway down to the end of the Spit to the estuary and although it wasn't a great day for photographs I thought I would document the alarming erosion taking place. The pictures show where a huge gap has opened up completely devoid of pebbles leaving the Sand Dunes vulnerable and totally unprotected. The Dunes here are now eroding and great clumps of Marram grass can been seen strewn about. Article by Pat Adams (photos 23rd September 2012)

Explore the Westward Ho!, Northam Burrows and the Pebble Ridge with the North Devon Focus Picture Tour

Saturday, 6 October 2012


As Robbie Williams looks to the future with the release of the incredible “Take The Crown”, his ninth studio album and his first for Island/Universal, it might also be interesting to remember his considerable achievements so far. In a career strewn with awards, Robbie has quite simply sold more records than any other British solo artist in history. Having sold a staggering 60 million albums over his solo career, Robbie has also won more Brit awards than any other artist in history ( a grand total of 17, to be precise). Six of his albums appear in the all time top 100 biggest selling albums in the UK whilst Williams appears in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling 1.6 million concert tickets in a day in 2006. In 2010 Robbie Williams won the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award at the BRITS; later that year his reformation with Take That led to their album becoming the fastest selling album of the century. Since then Robbie has been working on his brand new solo album, recorded in Los Angeles with producer Jacknife Lee. The orchestra on the album was recorded at the fabled Capitol Studios in LA.
The track-listing for “Take The Crown” is:
  • BE A BOY
  • LOSERS (featuring Lissie)
The album is preceded by the single “Candy”, released on October 29. Of this brilliantly addictive classic Robbie Williams pop song, written with Gary Barlow, Robbie says: “It’s a summer song, about a girl who thinks she’s great. And she might be, but she’s a bit nefarious with her ways. Some songs take an age to write and some songs just fall out of your mouth completely formed, and you don’t have to think about it. I don’t know why that fell out of my mouth and out of my brain at that particular time – it just did”.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Great British Walks around Bideford Bay and Hartland

Well summer may be over but the National Trust are still encouraging people to get outdoors and take a walk with them with their walking festival. There are lots of events on as well as trails to follow. The National Trust Walking Festival is  running from the 1st September to the 4th November so there’s plenty of time for everybody to get involved and enjoy the countryside. Click here for Great British Walks around Bideford Bay and Hartland including the Bucks Mills Walk on 3rd October. This great 5.5 mile walk includes a peep inside the evocative artist's studio at Bucks Mills  You can search on the website for a walk near you and then upload your own walk to share with others. Click here to find out about the National Trust Walking Festival near you today

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

One Year Ago Today. Swell Time at Westward Ho!

As the region prepares itself for more rain and flood warnings we look back one  year ago today and a swell time at Westward Ho!. It was a warm, balmy day with a particularly high tide. People never seem to tire of the sight of the mighty ocean pounding on Westward Ho! slipway rocks and the Pebbleridge. It was fantastic to capture the stunning rainbow highlight as the “Wild Horses” crashed over the shore before splashing up high on the pebbles. Surfers were taking advantage of the huge waves, even the lifeguard took a trip out on his belly board. This is just one of the Autumn Highlights around Bideford Bay, it’s also a time for dramatic skies, coast and country walks amidst berry laden hedgerows and burnished bracken. Be on the look-out for late butterflies and fungi,  the departure of the swallows and the arrival of the winter flocks on the Skern. For more Autumn Highlights check out the North Devon Focus Flickr slideshow. Article Pat Adams 25/9/12