Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Hi there, I would just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and would also like to thank you all for visiting and supporting the North Devon Focus Coast and Country Chronicle site this year. I do hope you have enjoyed the news, photographs and posts. I love North Devon, it's events, towns and villages and of course the wonderful local flora and fauna. I hope my photographs capture the beauty and diversity of the area throughout the seasons. After promoting North Devon in one way or another for nearly thirty years, I now just take photographs and blog for fun but no matter what time of year, whatever the weather there is always something to see and enjoy in the Bideford Bay Area. The last of the Christmas Fairs, Markets and Fun Days are on Saturday 21st December. Be sure not to miss the last day of Bideford Winter Fairs, Saturday 21st Dec from 10.00am at the historic Pannier Market.There will be lots of family friendly fun including some festive antics from the 'Entertainingly Different' gang. There is also a Farmers' Market at Jubilee Square, Bideford from 9-1am and of course The Big Sheep at Abbotsham are also holding the last of their Christmas Farmers Markets. Just a reminder that the last Quince Honey Farm Christmas Fun Day in South Molton is also on the 21st. Click here for Local Church Services and Events
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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Free rural training events for managers of land in the River Torridge Catchment Area

Free rural training events launched Landowners and farmers who manage land in the river Torridge catchment in north Devon are being offered the chance to take part in a series of training workshops and demonstration events during the coming winter months. The subjects being tackled cover critical farming tasks including woodland and soil management. The workshops and demonstrations are free to attend and form part of the work of Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area (NIA). The project is striving to improve the local landscape for people and nature through restoring, expanding and joining up wildlife-rich areas. It covers 72,000 hectares in the river Torridge catchment. It is one of 12 partnership projects which were created a year ago following a competitive bidding process for a share of £7.5million new funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Natural England. Since its beginnings in 2012 the Northern Devon NIA has worked with over 200 local landowners and farmers. Its project manager Lisa Schneidau explained why the training events were being organised: "Many landowners in the Torridge catchment are already doing a great deal for wildlife, whether it's managing Culm grassland, laying hedgerows or planting woodland. These events help us to bring together local experts and people with experience of land management techniques and challenges, and share knowledge on how different issues can be practically tackled - for the benefit of those already doing wildlife work, and those landowners who would like to do more." The landscape management events are being staged at venues across north Devon over the coming weeks - some indoors and some out on site. They are free to attend, refreshments will be provided but places are limited.  
Landowners and managers who are interested in attending should book a place by contacting the Northern Devon NIA's offices in Cookworthy, near Holsworthy on 01409 221823 or email info@northerndevonnia.org 
The training events and demonstrations include:
  • Weds 11 December 'Woodland planting best practice for landowners', 10am at Cookworthy 
  • Thurs 9 January - 'Woodland planting best practice for contractors', 10am at Cookworthy 
  • Tues 14 January - 'Soils and soil management', 10am at Cookworthy 
  • Thurs 22 January - 'The economics and value of woodlands and firewood', 7pm at Hatherleigh 
  • Wednesday 5 February - 'Hedge management and woodfuel', 10am at Cookworthy 
  • Thursday 6 February - 'An introduction to hedgelaying techniques', 9.30am at East Putford 
  • Wednesday 12 February - 'Woodfuel and woodland access', 10am at Shebbear 
  • Wednesday 26 February - 'Squirrel control and woodland management', 10am at Halwill 
  • Wednesday 19 March - 'Managing woodlands for wildlife', 10am at Peters Marland 
The Northern Devon NIA project team is also planning to stage a series of swailing workshops this winter. Swailing is the controlled burning of grasslands. It provides a traditional and effective way of renewing rough pasture, especially the Culm grasslands for which north Devon is especially renowned. Swailing requires dry weather - something which is not always predictable in north Devon! The project team is therefore asking potential participants to provide them with their contact details. Then when weather permits the team will issue a 'call-out' with details of where and when swailing workshops will take place.  
Up to date details regarding all training opportunities provided by Northern Devon NIA can be found at www.northerndevonnia.org


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Winter Sports and more at the Big Sheep. Snowboarding Simulator, Toboggan Slope and Ice Rink

The Big Sheep will be adding a big Wow Factor to Winter from this weekend. You can enjoy the toboggan slope for children and adults and get into the wintery spirit racing at high speeds from the top to the bottom of the slopes! You can be sure that your woolly hats, scarves and gloves will be coming off as you warm up from running back up to the top of the slope for numerous rides! Alongside the new toboggan slope will be the synthetic skating rink, back again for you to practice your skating skills. Toddlers can also have a go at skating with their new ski boots suitable for small children. NEW for this winter season will be their new snowboarding simulator. All winter activities are undercover in the new events building. Christmas Farmers Markets will be held on the run up to Christmas on the 7th, 14th and 21st December, there is also a Gingerbread Workshop on the 21st December and Breakfast with Santa on the 22nd December.  Visit web site to book tickets or find out more
Christmas Farmers Markets - Please click here to view the full stall holders list

Friday, 29 November 2013

What's the buzz in South Molton. Christmas fun days at Quince Honey Farm

There is a bit of a buzz in South Molton about the Christmas fun days at Quince Honey Farm when you can take part in Christmas festivities on the run up to Christmas. The Christmas Fun Days will be held on Saturday the 7th, 14th and the 21st December. Members will receive FREE ENTRY or only £3.95 for children and free for adults. Visit Santa in his grotto (£2.50 each including a gift) and post your Christmas wish list, there will be many Christmassy games and activities on offer with the chance to win prizes. As always children can buzz around in the play area while you can relax with a warm drink. We will be cooking up some Festive treats to get you in the mood and the shop will be open to purchase some last minute Christmas presents.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Catcing the Essence of Clovelly

Fishwives, fishy treats, fun and more than a splash of local colour down at Clovelly Harbour on a fair day in November. This is the month for the annual Clovelly Herring Festival, a time to celebrate the history and heritage of the humble herring, a time for visitors to meet the villagers who make and are the mainstay of this historic village. Local crafts and produce was the order of the day and an opportunity for folk to try those healthy herrings. We really enjoyed the oaty-coated herrings, freshly caught on the Perham line and pan-fried  in front of us. There were also platters of lobster and crab, tarts and quiche, smoked fish, fresh herrings, smoked herrings, marinated herring, locally sourced fish spiced with a myriad of flavours from around the world, homemade fudge, fresh baked bread and locally brewed beer. The Fishwives, a comical sight, with their rotund behinds and huge feet waddled amongst the crowds, along the Quay, their huge skirts swaying in time to the music. In addition to the Quay kitchens and cookery demonstrations, this is a time when villagers turn their hand to fundraising for local causes. The ladies from the Clovelly Community Garden Group had a stall up on the Kiln and Cream Teas were also served in the Lifeboathouse in aid of the RNLI. A couple of Clovelly yummy mummies had a homemade cake stall on the Quay, delicious sponges, fruit cakes and cupcakes raising funds for the  local “Small School”. The cupcakes decorated in sea blue fishy style with the help of little.Frida. The RSPB also had “A Stall for Nature” and the North Devon National Trust provided crafty activities for the kids up on the Kiln. Exhibitions and demonstrations of old seafaring skills and the History of Herrings and Flax Making came from Mike Smylie’s Kipperland and Simon and Ann from Flaxland. As the tide crept slowly into the harbour a Coracle, was launched by Simon who paddled quietly between a fishing boat used today and a Picarooner, one of the old traditional herring boats. I ventured along the top of the Harbour wall to capture a different perspective and noticed the Herring Gulls mobbing the lone fishing boat, a turbulent scene on a ultra calm sea. Herrings and heritage are the essence of Clovelly  I hope I have captured that in my video clip and the photos from the day. Shanty Singers “Shake a leg” can be heard in the background  - “Ten thousand miles away. Blow the wind high-ho”

Meanwhile on the other side the hub-bub on the busy Quay
Clovelly Herring Festival 17th November 2013 - Article, video/photos copyright Pat Adams

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Festive offers, music and mouth-watering delights at the next Ruby Country Market.

The traditional style Ruby Country Market at Hatherleigh began in Easter 2012 and has quickly become established as one of Devon's biggest community markets. This is an exciting event designed to showcase local businesses, a social event that brings together buyers and sellers from a wide area. Organisers and stallholders are now looking forward to welcoming visitors to the second Festive Ruby Country Market which will be held on Saturday the 7th December from 9am-2pm. You can browse and shop from around 200 stalls packed full of festive offers and be tempted by mouth-watering delights in the Food Hall. Entertainment will also be available throughout the day from such talented local musicians as:
  • The Hatherleigh Silver Band, 
  • The Hatherleigh Ukulele Bashers, 
  • The Unity Gospel Choir
  • Shebbear College Choir,
  • Josie Lloyd
  • Carnivala. 
Tickets will be on sale for a Bumper Food Hall Raffle in aid of the Devon Air Ambulance trust and several local charities will be represented. For full details of who is stalling and more information please visit www.rubycountrymarket.co.uk or phone 07855187364

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


North Devon faired reasonably well in the wake of the St. Jude’s Storm which swept over the UK overnight on the 27th October. Almost 30 metres of rain fell in Devon with up to 75mph winds. Nearly 1inch of rain fell in neighbouring Bude and there was localised flooding and fallen trees. Meanwhile on the North Devon Coast up to a 10ft surf was predicted sending photographers and storm watchers racing to the coast to capture the waves. This was followed by another stormy night on the 3rd November with exceptionally high tides rolling in under a full moon.  The wind had subsided the following day for our walk down to the beach, but there was a definite chill in the air. Amazingly the old trees in the wooded valley had survived. We were looking for Autumn colour but apart from the burnished bracken there was more leaf fall than leaf turn. Down at the beach the colossal Atlantic rollers had tossed a huge tree branch clear of the pebbles blocking the path at the entrance  to the beach. A wooden pallet and piles of bleached driftwood were scattered on the tideline beneath the cliffs to the left around the bend towards Clovelly and right towards Portledge and beyond. Amongst the driftwood there were, thankfully, just a few bits of plastic debris, a sign of the times. I thought it ironic that the largest item was a plastic bottle entitled “Biological Toilet Cleaner”.Article & Photos copyright P. Adams 4/11/2013
 After the rains, the waterfall  always looks more dramatic.  Photo copyright B. Adams

Get involved - How you can help protect our waves, oceans & beaches

North Devon Will Remember

The Royal British Legion is recognised as the national custodian of Remembrance. Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November, is the day traditionally put aside to remember all those who have given their lives for the peace and freedom we enjoy today.

REMEMBRANCE DAY EVENTS AROUND THE REGION (Sunday 10th November) Please visit the North Devon Gazette for more Remembrance Week events

BARNSTAPLE - Remembrance Service at Rock Park War Memorial 10.50am, followed by parade to the Parish Church for a full service. The Guildhall will be open from 9.45am to 12 noon for those who wish to see the names of the fallen in World War II, and those from HMS Stevenstone, and pay their respects.
BRAUNTON - Civic Service of Remembrance, St Brannock’s Church, Braunton, 11am. Parade leaves Caen car park 10.20am.
BIDEFORD - Act of Remembrance Victoria Park 10.50am, followed by parade to St Mary’s Parish Church for Remembrance Day Civic Service 11.15am.
COMBE MARTIN - Parade leaves village coach park (Pack O’ Cards) 9.55am for Parish Church, Service of Remembrance 10.15am, Act of Remembrance at war memorial 10.50am, all welcome.
ILFRACOMBE - Remembrance Service at Holy Trinity Church and war memorial, 10.30am.

    Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognised as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918.(Wikipedia)

    Tuesday, 5 November 2013

    Wildlife Trust's new App leads people to nature

    Heading out this weekend and want new places to experience autumn's wildlife spectacles? Or perhaps you just want to discover nature on your doorstep... With Nature Finder, The Wildlife Trusts' new free iPhone app, you will have a fabulous guide to thousands of nature reserves and wildlife across the UK. If you're looking for a day out and wondering where to go or what to do, look no further. Nature Finder, the simple location-based app, enables the user to find Wildlife Trust nature reserves and events wherever their current location. The app uses GPS technology to automatically find the user's location and display maps and listings of Wildlife Trust nature reserves and events nearby. Each nature reserve has an image, brief description, and information on facilities, such as parking, toilets etc. Announcing the launch of the app Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey said, 'If you're looking for a day out and wondering where to go or what to do, look no further. Visit glorious woodlands, beautiful wetlands and inspiring coastline - wander through wild countryside, discover secret inner city wildlife havens and enjoy family events from bat nights to fungal forays and children's nature activities.' The Wildlife Trusts care for more than 2,300 of some of the most beautiful wild places in the UK - landscapes that not only look gorgeous but are all the more precious because they are carefully managed to ensure that wild plants and species can thrive. In the South West the Wildlife Trust's care for some of the region's most iconic landscapes including wild coastlines, heather covered Dartmoor tors and tumbling rivers. 'This app represents a great way of accessing the South West's best nature reserves', said Steve Hussey. 'Using it will unlock walks along the River Teign at Dunsford Woods nature reserve, adventures across the wild countryside of Marsland nature reserve near Hartland, and a chance to explore the beautiful heathlands of East Devon at Bystock nature reserve. These and other wildlife havens are there to be explored and they are all free to enter.'

    Fantastic features of Nature Finder, which is free, include:
    • Searching more than 2,000 Wildlife Trust nature reserves  Information on more than 800 UK wildlife species, with the ability to favourite * Searching for nature events and activities
    • A directory for all 47 Wildlife Trusts with contact details and ability to donate by text
    • Saving your favourite places - where you've been and where you'd like to go 
    Nature Finder, suitable for all iPhone and iPad models, is available from the App Store - just search for 'Wildlife Trusts'. http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/app
    Photo copyright Tom Marshall

    Thursday, 31 October 2013

    Focus Nature Notes. Don't Tidy up Mrs. Tiggy

    Well  I was doing my bit for nature, leaving the hedge-trimming, pruning and tidying up until later so not to disturb the nesting birds. My garden, I am proud to say, is quite small, rather untidy, a tangle of climbers, overgrown shrubs and not so pristine lawns but this also makes it very wild-life friendly. Last  week I finally started cutting back the hedges, the flowering shrubs, honeysuckle and roses and generally tidying up. I started by adding an extension to my Critter Hotel  with an old up-turned wicker cat basket thinking it might be a cosy winter shelter for our resident hedgehogs. I must say I was very happy with the result, I was “Giving Nature a Home”, a veritable palace built out of cut down cable hose, logs and evergreen  branches. I was also emptying the compost bins spreading it around the flower beds and the base of the shrubs for the Blackbirds and Robins to rummage through. I eventually worked my way to the messiest corner of the garden where unused pots and trays have lain undisturbed for a couple of years. I lifted up some corrugated plastic sheeting and Noooooooo- in the far corner curled up like a hairy caterpillar was a sleeping hedgehog.  She was in the perfect place beneath the Beech trees, nestled in a leafy mattress with easy access to the path for her nightly forages in the garden. I immediately put the sheet back, sprinkled with leaves, hoping that I hadn’t disturbed her, feeling so guilty wondering if she was already hibernating or just having an afternoon nap. So the moral of the story is nature will find a home in the unlikeliest places, in messy pots, clumps of twigs and leafy litter. The beginning of November is when hedgehogs normally settle down for  the winter and as Guy Fawkes Night approaches this is a time to be extra vigilant. Devon Wildlife Trust advise leaving bonfire building as late as possible. Our hedgehogs have been in the garden for years but I have never known where their home is, I also didn’t know that they will usually wake and forage more than once through the winter so I will continue to leave a few nuts by the door on warmer nights.Article and Photo Pat Adams 1/11/2013

    Thursday, 17 October 2013

    The Factory goes Boom

    The Factory venue has teamed up with Boom Artists-a spin-off from the UK's fastest growing festival Boomtown Fair, and they have been busy programming a season of cutting edge music events that are set to change the face of live music for the local area. This first series of events is called Saturday Night Live and they run from October through to December. You are invited to experience quality live Ska, Reggae, Dub, Funk and Hip Hop through The Factory's state of the art sound and lighting rigs. Make way for headliners Babyhead, The Skints and Dr Meaker, plus legendary DJ Ed Solo is coming to play out the season's finale. Featuring alongside these established artists are handpicked rising stars from across the South West, all bringing their unique sounds and styles to The Factory. Please check out Skata Tones, The Dead Betas, Jamie Mead, Shire Roots and Blazenstein, Cut Capers, The ASBO Disco and DJ Wonka. The Factory will also be running competitions for acts who want to join some of these line-ups and news of these will be appearing on 'The Factory Petroc' Facebook page.

    Monday, 7 October 2013

    River restoration making a splash!

    A project which aims to improve the water quality and wildlife of a Westcountry river has made a splash in East Devon. The project is a joint initiative between Devon Wildlife Trust and the Sid Vale Association. It is based on a six mile stretch (plus tributaries ) of the beautiful and popular River Sid upstream from Sidmouth. Devon Wildlife Trust's Scott West is leading the project: 'Many people know and love the River Sid. It's somewhere that local communities walk, play and live beside. It's also a key component of what brings tourists to this wonderful part of the world. What the project is aiming to do is to ensure that the river remains as a special place for and people and wildlife. That means looking after its water quality and making sure that it can continue to support a wide diversity of life.' After six months of the project Scott has certainly got to know the river intimately having achieved an impressive amount of work which has included:
    • Walking the entire length of the river and its main tributaries , not using its banks but actually in the river in waders! 
    • Taking surveys of invertebrate life (typically mayflies and waterbugs) from along the river as a means of evaluating its water quality status. 
    • Conducting a series of 'electro-fishing' surveys of the river - whereby fish are temporarily immobilised by an electric current (this is only done under consent by the Environment Agency). 
    • Consulting with and advising ten local major landowners regarding land management and its impact on the river 
    Scott underlined the project's potential 'It's also an opportunity to see how positive management on the Sid can lead to healthier rivers not just here but across East Devon. We plan to take the lessons learned on this one small river catchment working with local landowners and enhancing riverside habitats and then apply them to other rivers.' The River Sid already supports an amazing amount of wildlife including such iconic species as kingfishers, otters, brown trout and damselflies, but Scott believes it could to support more. Scott said, 'This river has the potential to support other well-known but threatened species, perhaps the best example would be migrating Atlantic salmon. This river and other rivers like it would once have contained good numbers of salmon. Local people recall seeing them in years past. Our ambition is that the Sid and its neighbouring rivers might one day support species like this again.' The project is not only targeting the lives of the rivers wildlife, instead it is also engaging local communities through an ambitious education programme. Devon Wildlife Trust's Education Officer Paul Martin has been working with two local schools - Sidbury Primary and Sidmouth Primary - on a series of 'river days'. Paul explained: 'On river days we take groups of local children out to the River Sid. We assign them stretches of the river and ask them to explore them recording the wildlife that they find. The idea behind the visits is to get the children more familiar with their local river, to appreciate its beauty and to learn about the wonderful life it supports. The children certainly seemed to have enjoyed the experience!' The project's encouraging start bodes well for its next phase. Scott West explained, 'These initial months have been about understanding the river, its wildlife and the pressures upon it. It's also been about recognising the potential areas in which good local management can make a really positive impact. The next steps are threefold. First, to offer clear advice to local landowners on how they can play their part. Second, to address some of the physical barriers which face migrating fish, so for example introducing fish passes (ladders or pools) to help them overcome weirs. And lastly, to restore habitats along the river's banks - one special area we hope to tackle is the introduction of fencing to prevent cattle from entering the river.' 
    Photo: Kingfishers are just one of the species being helped on the River
    Sid. Copyright Chris Root

    Monday, 23 September 2013

    Reptile restoration work making a difference

    A leading South West charity is working hard to improve the lot of the region's reptiles and amphibians. Species including adders and common frogs, slow worms and toads may not always enjoy the best public profile but, says Devon Wildlife Trust, they are a vital part of our wildlife and one which faces an uncertain future. Over the past 18 months The Trust has set about improving several of its own nature reserves specifically to cater for the needs of these special animals. Thanks to generous funding from Biffa Award - a multi-million pound fund which awards grants to community and environmental projects across the UK - work involving Devon Wildlife Trust and its volunteers has been taking place at the charity's land at Bovey Heathfield and Chudleigh Knighton Heath nature reserves (both close to Bovey Tracey), and Lickham Common and Ashculm Turbary nature reserves in the Blackdown Hills. Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey commented: 'We are concentrating our efforts on reserves where we know there are existing populations of amphibians and reptiles. What we've been doing is ensuring that we can offer them tip-top conditions in which to flourish.' 

    The work for reptiles and amphibians has included: 
    • Digging two new ponds, while improving seven others. The ponds are providing homes and breeding places for amphibians including frogs, toads and newts, as well as hunting places for grass snakes. 
    • The installation of ten artificial hibernation (known as 'hibernaculum') nests to allow reptiles including sand lizards, adders and grass snakes to survive the cold winter weather. 
    • The construction using decomposing plant material of three heaps which provide egg laying places for grass snakes.
    • Bracken clearance and scrub removal at each of the four nature reserves designed at checking the spread of plants which threaten to shade out areas used by reptiles to bask in. 
    The effectiveness of the project is being monitored through a series of surveys. These surveys should provide an accurate picture of the distribution of reptiles and amphibians on the four nature reserves, as well as revealing how effective the work has been in encouraging rises in their numbers. Steve Hussey commented: 'It's still quite early in the project to draw firm conclusions about how much difference we are making, but the signs are encouraging. At Bovey Heathfield nature reserve, for example, one recent survey revealed large numbers of smooth newts in a pond which had been re-dug by the project team.' Steve continued: 'The winter ahead will see further work done for reptiles and amphibians on Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserves. We're delighted that funding from Biffa Award is allowing us to make a positive difference to such well-known but struggling species as adders and toads.'
    Photo: Common Lizard copyright Chris Root

    Thursday, 19 September 2013

    Charity receives vital backing for Dartmoor project

    Leading conservation charity Devon Wildlife Trust is celebrating the news that it has received a £38,000 funding boost from SITA Trust to support its Emsworthy Mire Restoration Project. Emsworthy Mire forms part of Devon Wildlife Trust's beautiful Emsworthy nature reserve. The reserve sits between Haytor and Widecombe-in the-Moor, in the heart of Dartmoor. It is a very popular spot with walkers and other visitors. Emsworthy's Mire is a particularly good example of a valley mire: areas of water-logged deep peat in valley bottoms with characteristic acid wetland plant communities. The valley mires on Dartmoor, including Emsworthy's, are of international importance to wildlife and are of high quality with many rare plants. Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey said: 'Emsworthy's mire is especially rich in wildlife. Some of the characteristic plant species which are supported there are bog asphodel, round-leaved sundew, pale butterwort, bog bean, cotton grass and marsh lousewort. In summer, the mire is home to many dragonflies and other insects including keeled skimmers and the rare marsh fritillary butterfly. In winter, it is wading birds such as snipe and golden plover that visitors will see.' However, the mire and its plant and animal communities are at risk because it borders semi-natural grassland and open moorland grazed by livestock. Stone walls and fence boundaries which once kept livestock well away from the mire have fallen into disrepair and this has led to the site being over-grazed and its condition has deteriorated. Now, funding from SITA Trust will allow Devon Wildlife Trust to restore the valley mire. Specifically it will allow: 
    • Re-building and repair of the historically important dry stone walls between the mire and surrounding fields 
    • Installation of new fencing along the mire's other boundaries 
    • Control of encroaching scrub woodland 
    Steve Hussey added: 'These works will allow grazing levels in the mire to be fully controlled so that the sensitive wetland plants can recover. It will also allow us to promote the growth and spread of the plant Devil's-bit scabious which supports two of the nature reserve's rarest inhabitants, the marsh fritillary and the narrow-bordered bee hawkmoth.' Marek Gordon CEO and Chairman of SITA Trust added 'We are delighted to have been able to support this project through the Landfill Communities Fund. This important source of funding has been available since 1997 and has provided such worthy projects with more than £1.2 billion.' SITA Trust provides funding through the Landfill Communities Fund. Funding is available for projects that enhance communities and enrich nature.

     'Devon Wildlife Trust's beautiful Emsworthy nature reserve on Dartmoor is set to see a make-over' - Photo copyright Simon Williams. 

    Monday, 16 September 2013


    To celebrate ten years of north Devon’s Biosphere Reserve a series of lectures will take place looking to its future. Each lecture will focus on different features of the Biosphere and will be delivered by an expert in that particular field. Full details below:

    THE FUTURE OF THE CLIMATE Dr Matt Palmer, Wednesday 16 October 2013 - 8.15 pm, Bideford College Abbotsham Road Bideford Devon EX39 3AR
    The Future of the Climate  - Dr. Matt Palmer leads sea level research at the Met Office. His research focuses on how the oceans and wider climate system will shape future sea level rise - both globally and regionally. The Future of Climate: Human-induced climate change is now widely accepted, but how will it affect us? We will review the current knowledge and explore some of the changes we can expect to see over the coming decades.
    THE FUTURE OF FARMING  - Prof Michael Winter, Wednesday 23 October 2013 - 8.15 pm, Bideford College, Abbotsham Road, Bideford, Devon EX39 3AR
    The Future of Farming - Michael Winter chairs the Biosphere Partnership. He is Co-Director of the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter and Director of the Food Security & Land Research Alliance (a joint initiative of the universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter and Rothamsted Research). Michael’s research work has been funded by UK research councils, Defra, environmental agencies, charitable trusts, and local and regional authorities. He has published many research papers, books and reports. He is a past Countryside Agency and Commission for Rural Communities board member and is currently a member of the National Ecosystem Assessment Expert Panel. The Future of Farming: This lecture will examine the factors – physical, economic, social, political – that shape the distinctive farming of the Biosphere. What is the future for agriculture in this part of Devon? Will the global food security priority find expression in greater emphasis on production or will environmental considerations and concerns predominate? What will be the role of local food or organic production? And socially, will more or still less people be involved in farming in the future and will the traditional family farm survive?
    THE FUTURE OF CULM GRASSLANDS  Dr Philip Murray, Wednesday 30 October 2013 - 8.15 pm Okehampton College, Mill Road, Okehampton, EX20 1PW
    The Future of Culm Grasslands - Dr Phil Murray is Head of the North Wyke Campus and Associate Head of the Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department of Rothamsted Research. North Wyke is the foremost grassland research station in England and is the home of the North Wyke Farm Platform, a major investment in research infrastructure by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council that aims to better understand and develop sustainable grassland systems. The Future of Culm Grasslands: In his talk Phil will explore the future of culm grasslands and how the underpinning research is helping us to develop sustainable grasslands in the South West.
    THE FUTURE OF LANDSCAPE - Prof Peter Howard, Wednesday 6 November 2013 - 8.15 pm, The Plough Arts Centre, 9-11 Fore St, Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8H
    The Future of Landscape - Peter Howard is a member of the Biosphere Partnership, and a Visiting Professor of Cultural Landscape at Bournemouth University. He works closely with the Council of Europe and the European Landscape Convention, and has recently published An Introduction to Landscape (Ashgate) and has co-edited the Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies. The Future of Landscape: The coming into force of the European Landscape Convention urging the participation of all in landscape matters, and the importance of ordinary landscapes, inevitably produces clashes, not least with the renewable energy industry. Whose landscape will it become?
    MARINE FUTURES - Dr Simon Ingram Wednesday 13 November 2013 - 8.15 pm, The Plough Arts Centre, 9-11 Fore St, Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8HQ
    Marine Futures - Dr Simon Ingram is a Lecturer in Marine Conservation at Plymouth University and Associate Editor for the journal Biodiversity and Conservation. His PhD research, at Cork, was concerned with the conservation of bottlenose dolphins, and he has worked with cetaceans and seals in many waters. His current research project is based in Lundy. Marine Futures: His talk will look at current conservation issues concerning marine life, and the future for the health and biodiversity of waters around the UK.
    ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY - Dr Mike Moser, Wednesday 20 November 2013 - 8.15 pm, The Plough Arts Centre, 9-11 Fore St, Great Torrington, Devon EX38 8HQ
    Environmental Security - Mike Moser chaired North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve Partnership from 2008-12, and now chairs the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area steering group. He manages a 75 acre farm near Chulmleigh which includes a woodland County Wildlife Site. Mike also works as an international specialist on ecosystem management, and has advised long term projects of the United Nations Development Programme and Global Environment Facility in Iran and the Maldives, as well as many other international initiatives. He was formerly Director of the NGO Wetlands International, and Acting Chair of English Nature. Environmental Security: In his talk, Mike will explore how an ecosystem approach to managing land, water and the seas in north Devon can enhance our environmental security, and explore what lessons we can learn from other Biosphere Reserves.
    ENVIRONMENTAL CAREERS - Dr Eirene Williams, Wednesday 27 November 2013 - 8.15 pm, Okehampton College, Mill Road, Okehampton, EX20 1PW
    Environmental Careers - Dr Eirene Williams was a Principal Lecturer in Rural Resource Management at Seale-Hayne College. She started her career in Malawi and returned to buy a farm in South Devon and taking up various teaching and research posts around Exeter. Eirene now teaches part-time at Duchy College, and is a Governor of Petroc. She also took on the chairmanship of Devon FWAG and the Vice-Presidency of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM) and consequent place on the Board of the Society for the Environment. Her recent work for IEEM contributed to it being granted Chartered status in 2012. Eirene was born and brought up in North Devon and has returned to live in what is now the Biosphere Reserve. Environmental Careers: Eirene’s talk will explore the many and various opportunities for working in the environmental sector and the qualifications and qualities required in these careers, with special emphasis on those that are likely to be available in Northern Devon.

    A series of  7 anniversary lectures celebrating 10 years of North Devon's Biosphere Reserve at 3 locations. Wednesday Evenings during the Autumn of 2013 - all lectures begin at 8.15pm. Tickets can be booked for ALL lectures via The Plough Arts Centre Box Office by telephoning 01805 624624 or calling in person.

    Thursday, 12 September 2013

    Green haying leads to shoots of new growth

    A South Hams landowner has turned to an unusual method to encourage a greater range of bees, butterflies and birds onto his land. Dave Halsall is the owner of Singing Paddles, a canoe and kayak adventures company based near Kingsbridge. Now 2 acres of land at Green Park Farm, Aveton Gifford is being used as a 'receptor site' for a technique known as 'green haying.' Devon Wildlife Trust's Lynne Kenderdine helped coordinate the innovative operation and explained how it works: 'Green haying involves taking newly cut hay from a site which is rich in wildflower seeds and transporting it to another local site where there are fewer wildflowers. The green hay is then spread on the 'receptor' site and left to set seed. It's a technique which Devon Wildlife Trust has used successfully in the north of the county and now we want to use it here. If we get similar good results here we'll try other sites next year.' The green haying day took place in good weather on Wednesday 11 September. Wildflower rich hay full of flowers like black knapweed and birdsfoot trefoil was transported from a 'donor site' at Longmarsh, Totnes to Aveton Gifford. Staff from Devon Wildlife Trust and the South Devon Nature Trust, along with volunteers, then spent an energetic afternoon spreading the hay by fork. Devon Wildlife Trust's Lynne Kenderdine looked back on a successful day, 'We need to thank South Hams District Council, as the owners of Longmarsh they've been a willing source for the green hay and helped us get volunteers from The Conservation Volunteers who did a fantastic job in raking up. The seed we've spread will now lay dormant for the winter months, but we hope that next spring and summer we'll see the fruits of our labour. We should find a wider range of wildflowers establishing themselves here, and with them should come a wider range of insect, mammal and birdlife. This place should be buzzing with life in the future.'
    Lynne Kenderdine and Devon Wildilfe Trust staff get to work green haying

    Friday, 6 September 2013


    The name of Liz Shakespeare has become well-known in the South West as an author who brings to life the people and landscapes of Devon. Her first three books, The Turning of the Tide, Fever: A Story from a Devon Village and The Memory Be Green: An Oral History of a Devon Village are still selling well and she has now written a fourth book. ‘All Around The Year’ is a collection of twelve poignant stories, deeply rooted in the Devon landscape, and each linked to a month of the year from January through to December. The reader is transported from a sleepy village square to the wilds of Exmoor and from a summer beach to the narrow streets of a small Devon town, and introduced to a variety of memorable characters. In January, a young Croyde surfer tries to come to terms with her uncertain future. As signs of spring appear in the hedgerows, a farmer’s wife starts a new venture. In August, a bereaved woman is deeply affected by an unexpected sight on Lynmouth beach. In November, a red rose on a grave leads to memories of an enigmatic aunt. All are at a moment of reckoning in their lives as they experience the subtle but significant events that make up everyday experience. These stories of love and loss, of separation and reconciliation, stay with you throughout the year. Liz has previously concentrated on historical research for inspiration, but this new collection is set in present-day Devon and brings to life characters that are so convincing, the reader soon feels that they are personal friends. Liz was born and brought up in Bideford and has a long Devon ancestry; she feels that the sense of being deeply rooted in the area has given her a good understanding of Devon and its people. For each story, she has created a character whose life is influenced by the landscape around them. With stories set in North, South and Mid-Devon, All Around The Year is sure to be popular throughout the South West and beyond.
    "All Around the Year" is available from: www.lizshakespeare.co.uk and from bookshops.

    Thursday, 5 September 2013

    Sea Ilfracombe. Entertaining weekend ahead for everyone at Ilfracombe's Maritime Festival

    With a huge range of entertainment and activities throughout the weekend, from Pirate Fun Activities for the younger children at the Museum on Friday morning to an open-air Songs of Praise at Preacher’s Rock on Wildersmouth Beach on Sunday evening, no-one can say that there’s nothing that will interest them! There’s a Visual Arts Extravaganza, opening at 2.00 on the Friday at the Landmark Pavilion, displaying all sorts of marine-inspired art work, and providing workshops as well. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be occasional sea-based musical entertainment while you peruse the exhibits, or enjoy a coffee. There will also be musical interludes in the Landmark Café. On Friday evening, the Oldenburg will be moored in the Harbour, and provide the venue for a Maritime Party, with a bar, canapés and musical entertainment. Tickets are available through www.wegottickets.com/seailfracombe or over the weekend at the Sea Ilfracombe office on the Pier. For those of an active bent, you can climb Capstone Hill for the Sea Watch (and hopefully at least see our local dolphins), you can try out pilot gig rowing, or take a guided ramble to the famous Torrs or Hillsborough: you could even put together a team of six and take part in the Sea Ilfracombe Skittles Match on Sunday afternoon. And if you don’t want to be quite that active, there’s a Fun Fishing Competition For those who like messing about with boats, you can take a trip on the old lifeboat, Hampshire Rose (tickets available as above), watch the Y-Sail Round the Island race, instituted last year, or have a go at sailing model boats in Bicclescombe Park.There are, of course, lots of opportunities to hear our performers, who this year include (in no particular order): Ian Hudson, Pam’n’Al, Roger Cockram, Malcolm Ward, Helen North, Anchors Aweigh, Tom & Barbara Brown, Monkey’s Fist, Four’n’Aft, LocTup Together, Martyn Babb & Andy Barnes, Old Gaffers, Steve Dawes & Helen Pitt. As well as performing The Landmark, they can be found on The Old Quay, in The Ship & Pilot, at the Yacht Club, and the Lifeboat Shed, plus they’ll be guiding open sessions at which anyone is welcome to have a sing on the Oldenburg and in The Ship & Pilot. And then there’s the food – ah, the food! The Yacht Club are running a Crab Day on the Saturday – so all things crab there! You can find traditional Devonshire Cream Teas with fresh strawberries at Larkstone Gardens – OK, not maritime, but it is traditional. And on the Sunday, there’ll be Fore Street Fish Festival, with pavement seafood dining, entertainment and a whole lot more. On Sunday evening, there’s the Gourmet Restaurant Trail, taking your starters, main course and dessert in different places, finishing up at Damien Hirst’s 11 The Quay. Oh, sorry, forgot to mention that the Restaurant Trail’s sold out – have to get in earlier next year! Last but by no means least are the children’s events, the first of which was mentioned at the beginning. On Saturday, Ilfracombe Aquarium and Coastwise will be guiding a Rock Pool Rambles, Ticklish Allsorts will be entertaining in the afternoon, and on Sunday morning running a creative workshop at the Landmark Pavilion, as well as Punch & Judy on Sunday afternoon. Sunday also sees a Pirate Fun Day in Bicclescombe Park at which Ticklish Allsorts will also be in evidence. So, all in all, a brilliant weekend is in store! 
    For more information, you can go to the Sea Ilfracombe website at www.seailfracombe.co.uk, or call in at the Sea Ilfracombe office during the day over the weekend. Hope to see you there!

    Wednesday, 4 September 2013

    Hidden habitats of Exmoor to be explored

    During August through to March, surveyors from the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC) will be working with Exmoor National Park staff and local landowners to uncover hidden gems within the National Parks's diverse range of habitats. The Hidden Habitats and Sites of Exmoor project is funded by the Exmoor National Park Authority's Partnership Fund and DBRC. No new County Wildlife Sites have been identified on Exmoor since 2003, and with growing pressure on the parks landscape, these field surveys will help future planning of resources and projects to help protect its rich biodiversity. Devon Biodiversity Records Centre is the central repository for species, habitat and geological data within the county. Although a lot of habitat data is provided to DBRC by partners, groups and individuals, they also have an active programme of survey and monitoring which specifically focuses on local sites such as these. DBRC staff know that surveying on Exmoor can throw up unique challenges. Emma Magill who is leading the survey commented: 'Many sites are hard to access and include steep-sided river valleys so it can be physically very demanding and the weather can have a real influence on our progress. The continued dry spell has also made grassland sites more difficult to survey this year, but thankfully many sites show signs of recovering during September'. County Wildlife Sites contain some of Exmoor's rarest habitats including flower-rich meadows, lowland heathland and ancient woodland, many of which are of importance in a national context. A County Wildlife Site is not a statutory designation, unlike a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but is identified according to strict criteria and form part of the Local Sites Framework. They complement the already existing large suite of Sites of Special Scientific Interest on Exmoor. Exmoor's status as a National Park already offers large areas a level of protection through designation as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). However, SSSI were designated prior to the birth of the Local Sites Framework and it is recognised that if Natural England were to consider designating new SSSI, numerous Local Sites would meet the criteria. Ian Egerton, DBRC Manager, concluded that: 'it is important we record the species present on these sites not only for their protection and future land management, but because these sites provide a way to monitor the health of the park if revisited over time. Many of the sites represent corridors through which mammals, butterflies and invertebrates can travel and connect. Climate change and land use change has put increasing pressure on many of the parks iconic species and maintaining a network of local sites will be important to ensuring Exmoor can continue to be home to species such as the heath fritillary butterflies and nightjar.
    Heath Fritillary Butterfly - Coyright Chris Root

    Tuesday, 3 September 2013

    The Sea Ilfracombe. Maritime Festival for the whole family from 6th-8th September

    The Sea Ilfracombe Festival is back for its fourth year, and as a celebration of all things maritime there are activities and events to entertain the whole family at venues across Ilfracombe. The festival will run from the 6th to the 8th September. Here’s a quick taster of just some of the festivities in store this year:
    • Music, Arts and Entertainment: Visit inspiring exhibitions and drop-in workshops at the Landmark Theatre (including glass, painting and textile pieces from renowned South West artists), follow a ceramic Fish Trail around the town, or be enthralled by coastal themed street processions and live performances. And if it’s music you’re after, you can enjoy uplifting sea songs, storytelling, humorous anecdotes and acoustic renditions by local and national acts throughout the weekend. 
    • Food and Drink: Ilfracombe’s fishing heritage and popular restaurants lend themselves to a celebratory feast! With the Yacht Club’s Crab Day on the Saturday and Fore Street’s Seafood and Beer Festival on the Sunday there’s sure to be something to tempt you. And don’t forget the festival’s ever-popular Gourmet Restaurant Trail – 3 courses at 3 different restaurants, available to book now! 
    • Children’s Activities: There’s a mix of exciting kids’ events on offer at this year’s festival too – from pirate themed sessions, rockpooling and a youth sailing race, through to creative workshops, entertaining performances and maritime themed activities at the Fore Street festivities. Come along and get involved! 
    • Contests and Taster Sessions: Sea Ilfracombe offers the perfect opportunity to try something new: amongst other things you can row a Pilot Gig boat, join a guided Sea Watch session or a local walk, get creative with drop-in workshops and open singing sessions, or be competitive in a skittles contest or sea fishing competition! 
    SEA Ilfracombe 2013 Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 6, 7 and 8 - Ilfracombe, United Kingdom
    To find out more and see full programme listings please visit :www.seailfracombe.co.uk or www.facebook.com/seailfracombe 
    Sea Ilfracombe Maritime Festival 6th - 8th September 2013
    (Not for profit organisation) 

    Friday, 30 August 2013


    Finally get to see where all the action has been coming from. Feel a little sad, a bit like when my son left home for the first time. I expect lots of Mums and Dads will be feeling the same as they tentatively drop their toddlers off for their first day of school or wave their bigger toddlers off to university . This masterpiece was tucked away in the Apple Tree, it just caught my eye after the light flooded the area after hedge trimming. It was still very much camouflaged but I recognised the dry Ornamental Grass and Monbretia that I had left out for just such a purpose earlier in the year. I think the nest belonged to the Blackbirds that have been keeping me so amused in the garden this summer. I have been watching them leaving the nest, ducking, diving and dodging cats. Here are just some of the stars of the summer show. Hope they have a safe journey, I will miss them.

    Thursday, 22 August 2013

    B10 EVENT: Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast Sunday 1 September 2013

    Another lovely local event celebrating B10, the tenth anniversary of North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve Designation. Clovelly is famous for its sustainably caught lobsters and crabs and the Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast is a good old fashioned celebration of this wonderful tradition. The North Devon Biosphere team join up with Devon and Severn IFCA (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority) for a hands on experience with some Clovelly lobsters! You can learn about the work of IFCA putting into practice the Biosphere message of balancing environmental conservation and economic livelihoods. Live folk music will be provided by Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, The Vagrant Ramblers and fabulously funny a capella trio 3’s Company. Of course there will be plenty of tasty food too! Chef Sanjay Kumar will be giving cookery demonstrations and tastings and there will be local food stalls and beer tasting. Children will be kept entertained by street theatre, walkabout magic, themed craft activities and there will be a chance for visitors to enter the B10 prize draw with lots of superb prizes donated by North Devon Biosphere businesses and supporters.This event will be raising funds for the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, who will be exhibiting some of their baby lobsters prior to their release into Clovelly Bay at the end of the day.
    Admission: Adults £6.50, Children (7-16 years) £4, Family (2 adults and 2 children): £17 and under 7s free. For further information, call Clovelly on 01237 431781 or visit www.clovelly.co.uk
    Clovelly Lobster and Crab Feast Sunday 1 September 2013