Thursday, 22 December 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Thanks for visiting
Looking forward to an Eventful 2017

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Reindeer in the city for charity Christmas event

Devon Wildlife Trust will be celebrating Christmas with its popular annual family event at the charity's Cricklepit Mill, in the heart of Exeter.

The converted medieval mill and garden will be open from 11am to 4pm on Sunday 11 December for the event.

Stars of the show at this year's Christmas at Cricklepit are likely to be the reindeer from a North Devon farm. Visitors will be able to pet and feed the reindeer before they see Father Christmas in his traditional green costume.

Children will also have the chance to create natural Christmas decorations out of willow and make bird feeders to give garden birds a nutritious, festive treat. A fun wildlife trail will also be set up in the garden.

Mince pies, hot drinks and live seasonal music will be available to keep visitors refreshed and entertained, while the charity's wildlife Christmas cards and  calendars will be on sale.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Jo Pullin, who is organising the day, said: 'Every year, we see dozens of families having a great time at Christmas at Cricklepit. It's a chance to have some fun, to explore one of Exeter's historic mills and help Devon's wildlife. Children will be able to take away new Christmas decorations they've made, as well as the memory of meeting reindeer in the city. The event always provides a welcome break from hectic Christmas shopping!'

Some of the activities are in gazebos in the garden, so visitors should wear warm clothing. Activities take place throughout the day, with no requirement to book places. Entry to Cricklepit Mill for this event is £2 per child and £1 per adult. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Cricklepit Mill can be found in Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4AB - 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
Green Father Christmas; reindeer; children enjoy Christmas at Cricklepit
Green Father Christmas; reindeer; children enjoy Christmas at Cricklepit
Green Father Christmas, Reindeer and  children enjoying Christmas at Cricklepit - Photos copyright DWT (All rights resrved)

Monday, 21 November 2016

Extreme Beach Cleans

Reaching the parts that are hard to reach, the North Devon Coast AONB team, Skern Lodge and local volunteers are planning several events to remove marine litter washed up on the more remote parts of our coast.

“We are delighted to have funding from Tesco Bags of Help to involve the local community in protecting our wildlife and beaches by removing litter washed in from the sea,” said AONB Education Officer Cat Oliver. “Reaching the more remote beaches presents a number of challenges so we hope that combining the offer of a bracing walk or a chance to scramble down a cliff will inspire more people to help us clean up the beaches.”

The first ‘walk and beach clean’ is on Saturday 3rd December at Cockington Mouth from 10.00am to 3.30pm. This stretch of beach is a 45 minute walk south of Greencliff and north of Peppercombe, where the South West Coast Path dips down onto the beach (west of Abbotsham). Due to the remote location there is a phenomenal amount of marine litter stranded there that rarely gets taken away as there is no vehicle access. This is where Skern Lodge Outdoor Activity Centre comes in to provide the staff and a boat to remove the litter by sea. The National Trust, Keep Britain Tidy and Surfers Against Sewage are also supporting this event.

“We’re delighted to be able to work with the AONB team to share our skills, knowledge and equipment in looking after our outstanding coastline,” said John Watson, Skern Lodge General Manager. “We rely on the exceptional quality of the coast to bring people to North Devon.”

Plans for next year include a general beach clean, plus rock scrambling with Skern Lodge staff, at Hartland Quay on Saturday 25th February 2017. 
Marine litter on Cockington Mouth beach. Copyright North Devon Coast AONB (All Rights Reserved)
Marine litter on Cockington Mouth beach. Photo Copyright North Devon Coast AONB (All Rights Reserved)
Further information is on the AONB website calendar at 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

November Highlight: Clovelly celebrates the Silver Darlings of the Sea.

This year Clovelly are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Clovelly Herring Festival, which is held to promote these tasty, nutritious Silver Darlings and support sustainable fishing.

The village once depended on the harvest of herring, which are caught in superb condition for a short season off its coast. Records go back over 400 years and in 1749, there were a hundred herring boats in the port. When fishing was good, 9000 herring could be landed at one time. Those days of massive catches are long gone and there remain just two herring fishermen who still employ sustainable fishing methods using drift nets and long lines.

There’ll be delicious herring specialities, cookery demonstrations, beer tastings, local food and craft stalls, live shanty singers, stiltwalker entertainment, face painting & henna tattos, a herring fishing photo exhibition, Herring Hunt and the National Trust event-themed children’s craft activities.

Maritime historian, Mike Smylie, will be returning with his “Kipperland” exhibition, which is devoted to the history of the herring. He will also be turning herring into delicate-tasting kippers and bloaters in his smokehouse.

There'll also be net making, flax processing and a Curragh on show provided by 'Flaxland' and a Herring Art Competition organised by The Small School, Hartland with the participation of other local schools. All the art will be on display on the day to be judged.
Clovelly Herring Festival - Photos copyright Pat Adams North Devon Focus (All rights reserved)
Clovelly Herring Festival 2015 - Photos copyright Pat Adams (All rights reserved)
Clovelly Herring Festival - Photos copyright Pat Adams North Devon Focus (All rights reserved)
History of the "Silver Darlings of the Sea" - Photos copyright Pat Adams (All rights reserved)
Clovelly Herring Festival, 10th Anniversary
Sunday 20 November from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Clovelly Harbour, North Devon
Contact: Visitor Centre. Tel: 01237 431781Email:

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Become part of the century’s most exciting conservation project, says Chris Packham

“The chance to make history” is the way that TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham is describing a campaign by the Devon Wildlife Trust.

The wildlife charity urgently needs to raise a minimum of £100,000 from a crowdfunding campaign to have a chance of securing the future of England’s only wild population of beavers. The beavers have made their home on the River Otter in East Devon. After being discovered in 2013 the beavers were originally set to be removed by government officials. However, a partnership led by Devon Wildlife Trust and involving local people and local landowner Clinton Devon Estates reversed this decision – but only for a 5 year trial period on a licence granted by Natural England.

This opened the way for Devon Wildlife Trust to launch the River Otter Beaver Trial in 2015, a five-year project which is monitoring the impact of the animals on the local landscapes, communities and wildlife. The Trial involves a lot of wide ranging activities, including:
  • monitoring the beavers’ welfare and introducing new animals to the river to
  • keep their small community genetically diverse;
  • working with local landowners and others to monitor and manage any impacts
  • the beavers are having on the local landscape;
  • and helping schools and other local communities take part in the exciting
  • story unfolding on their doorstep.
  • All project outcomes have to be fully supported by independent evidence.
The Trial is scheduled to finish in 2020 when the government will make a decision on the beavers’ future. However, Devon Wildlife Trust has to finance the whole of the project’s costs, which are estimated to be nearly £700,000. The charity receives no state funding for the project and now urgently needs to finance its beaver work.

Thanks to Devon Wildlife Trust’s supporters, to date the charity has raised nearly half of this sum, but it still has a way to go, so the charity has now launched a crowdfunding appeal. Crowdfunding allows the public to back your idea with pledges of money. Backers are then ‘thanked’ with rewards that reflect the money contributed.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Mike Elsey has put the beaver crowdfunding appeal together.
He says:
“Rather than a simple plea for donations, we thought we’d do something different for Devon’s wild beavers. We’re asking people to pledge their support and in return we’re offering a range of very special unique beaver-themed rewards.”

These rewards include some highly unusual items. Among them is the chance to own a ‘beaver chip’ – a nibbled chip of wood actually gnawed by a Devon beaver. Other rewards range from a limited edition signed beaver cushion, designed by renowned artist Hugh Dunford Wood, a bespoke tour of the beavers’ river home in the company of an expert guide, a unique River Otter beaver soft toy, and even a personal appearance by ‘Nora’ the Devon Wildlife Trust’s beaver mascot.

Mike Elsey says:
“The rewards we’re offering are only available to people supporting Devon’s wild beavers. Pledges start at as little as £5, with the beaver chips being offered for those pledging £75.”

“Devon’s wild beavers have attracted so much interest, not just in Devon but across the UK and beyond. This is people’s chance to turn this interest into support. This is their opportunity to become part of this unique wildlife story and ensure that these very special animals remain in the wild at least until 2020.”

There are now thought to be around 20 beavers living on the River Otter. They are the first wild beavers in England for 400 years after the last populations were hunted to extinction. This summer beavers living near the East Devon village of Otterton drew hundreds of visitors all hoping to see a family which had had five kits (baby beavers).

Chris Packham has decided to back the crowdfunding appeal.  The TV presenter and naturalist is fronting a video for Devon Wildlife Trust. In it Chris says: “We have just four years in which to work with local people to prove to the government that beavers are good for the environment and can live in harmony with local people. If we don’t then the beavers will be removed.

“I have to tell you this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to help a magnificent and long lost mammal to thrive again.”

Chris Packham signs off with a direct appeal to the public:
“Please donate today to give Devon’s beavers a chance and to play a role in one of the most exciting conservation projects of the twentieth-first century. You never know it might pave the way for other native species to return to the UK.”

People wishing to support Devon’s wild beavers should visit 
There you can watch Chris Packham’s video appeal and find out about the range of unique beaver rewards being offered to people who pledge support.
 An adult beaver swimming in the River Otter. Photo copyright Mike Symes, Devon Wildlife Trust. (All rights reserved)
An adult beaver swimming in the River Otter. Photo copyright Mike Symes, Devon Wildlife Trust. (All rights reserved)
 River Otter beaver mother with her kits near Otterton, East Devon - Photo copyright Mike Symes/Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights Reserved)
River Otter beaver mother with her kits near Otterton, East Devon. Photo copyright Mike Symes/Devon Wildlife Trust (All rights Reserved)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

North Devon Connections. From Bristol to Bucks Mills

I so enjoy watching "Great Canal Journeys" with Timothy West and Prunella Scales. This week, as they were bobbing on the floating harbour at Bristol, the historic Schooner Kathleen and May sailed by. Leaving their canal boat they enjoyed a trip on The Matthew of Bristol then made the crossing from Clevedon to Ilfracombe aboard the Waverley Paddle Steamer, both vessels are regular visitors to North Devon The Kathleen and May was purchased by Steve Clark, OBE in 1999. It was restored and berthed in Bideford until 2010. Tim and Pru finally made a nostalgic trip to Bucks Mills and Johns Cottage where Prunella spent her childhood during the war. They were welcomed back to Bucks Mills at St. Anne’s Church by Chris Braund and 90 year old Conrad William James. At one time, almost every resident was related to the Braunds. King Cottage was once the home of the "King of Bucks", Captain James Braund.

John's Cottage, Bucks Mills, near Clovelly, North Devon. Photo copyright Pat Adams
Beyond the gate John's, Bucks Mills,- Photo copyright Pat Adams
Bucks Mills, near Clovelly, Bideford, North Devon. Photo copyright Pat Adams
The Lime Kiln and the steep walk down to the  beach at Bucks Mills - Photo copyright Pat Adams

King Cottage was once the home of the "King of Bucks", Captain James Braund. Photo copyright Pat Adams
King Cottage at the top of the hill - Artists Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards used the Cabin on the left as their studio - Photo copyright Pat Adams
Bucks Mills Slipway and Quay - Photo copyright Pat Adams
The Waverley is the world’s last sea going paddle steamer

The Matthew of Bristol is a replica of the 15th century caravel that John Cabot sailed from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497.

The Kathleen and May Schooner was purchased and towed to Brunswick Wharf, East-the-Water, Bideford then restored by Steve Clark in 1999. As a result of his efforts in this restoration he was awarded the OBE in 2008. Since 2010 Kathleen & May has been berthed in Albert Dock beside Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Volunteer gardeners scoop top green-fingered award

A small band of dedicated volunteer gardeners have been rewarded for their green-fingered efforts with a prestigious award from Britain in Bloom.

The Cricklepit Garden Group has been working for four years with the Devon Wildlife Trust. During this time eight regular volunteers have transformed the grounds of Cricklepit Mill, the conservation charity's Exeter headquarters which sits close to the city's busy historic Quayside.

Now the beauty and inventiveness of the volunteers has been recognised. Their garden has scooped the highest level of accreditation - 'Outstanding' - in Britain in Bloom's 'It's Your Neighbourhood' awards 2016.

Judges enjoyed the garden's mix of sensory beds, small ponds, a winter heath garden, bee and butterfly borders and a culinary herb bed.

The volunteer gardeners were praised by Britain in Bloom assessors for a number of key areas:
  • The garden's innovative use of "bird boxes, bat boxes, bird feeders and planting for pollinators throughout the year".
  • Also highlighted was the volunteers' innovative use of "recycled materials and rainwater harvesting", along with the use of composted material from Devon Wildlife Trust's offices.
  • Judges also praised the volunteers' willingness to share the garden with visitors through the staging of regular open days and tours.
George Barbour is the Cricklepit Garden Group's Head Gardener and one of its founding members. George said:
"I'm delighted for all the team that our efforts have been recognised. To win in the 'It's Your Neighbourhood' category is especially pleasing because when we began our work four years ago we wanted it to be a place for local people to come and enjoy wildlife in a peaceful garden setting."

Speaking for Devon Wildlife Trust, Steve Hussey said:
"We're delighted that our volunteer gardeners have been rewarded for their hours of labour. Staff and visitors to Cricklepit Mill have benefited from their work. The garden is now a beautiful place to be, it's full of wildflowers and wildlife. It's a garden which reflects the ethos of our charity and the history of this wonderful working watermill."

Cricklepit Mill and its garden can be found at Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4RB, close to the Bishop Blaize pub and the city's Quay. Both are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Entry is free.

Special milling days are held every month where visitors can see Exeter's only working watermill grinding wheat into flour. The next milling day will be held on Friday 11 November between 10am and 12noon.

The Cricklepit Garden Group can be found working in the garden every Wednesday afternoon. Its volunteers are just one example of the 300 people who regularly volunteer for the charity across Devon. More details about volunteering for Devon Wildlife Trust can be found at

Britain in Bloom. Members of the Cricklepit Mill Garden Group celebrate their Britain  in Bloom Award;
 Members of the Cricklepit Mill Garden Group celebrate their Britainin Bloom Award
Devon Wildlife Trust. Wildflowers in the Cricklepit Mill Garden, Exeter 
Wildflowers in the Cricklepit Mill Garden, Exeter

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Clovelly Talks. Sir Peter Bazalgette will be tackling a controversial subject: “Why Should The Public Fund The Arts?”

On the 2nd November 2016, Sir Peter Bazalgette will be tackling a controversial subject: “Why Should The Public Fund The Arts?”

Clovelly Talks welcomes Sir Peter Bazalgette, for the inaugural London Lecture of the forum Clovelly Lectures. This is a forum on World Affairs, International Relations, Security & Defence and Science & Technology. A platform for providing information for informed choices.

Now in its 6th year, Clovelly Lectures has found in Devon a responsive audience. A curiosity and interest in listening and discussing matters that affects our lives in a fast changing and confusing economic and political world. Spreading our wings east, they are taking their forum to Whitehall Place, London.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, the incumbent Chair of Arts Council England is also currently the Chairman of ITV and President of the Royal Television Society. He has served as Chair of ‘English National Opera’ and Deputy Chair of ‘National Film and Television School’. He has been a non-executive director for the ‘Department for Culture Media and Sport’.

Sir Peter served on the Board of Broadcasters ITV as well as being on the Advisory Board of Advertiser BBH. Sir Peter had a huge impact on and helped create the Independent TV Production Sector in the United Kingdom, working as a successful television producer for 30 years. He was Chairman of Endemol UK and Creative Director of Endemol worldwide. Under his supervision the company grew three fold and was sold in 2007 for €3.2 billion.

He developed the hit UK blockbuster version of ‘Big Brother’ and is credited with popularising this format as a phenomenal global brand. He created many British TV hits including “Ready Steady Cook”, “Changing Rooms” and produced BBC’s “Food and Drink” and “Celebrity Chef”.

Sir Peter has written many books including ‘Billion Dollar Game’ a study of the international TV formats business.
Sir Peter Bazalgette
Sir Peter Bazalgette
    “Most influential man in British Television” 
Chair of Arts Council England 
Chairman ITV
Speaker:  Sir Peter Bazalgette
Wednesday 2nd November, 2016 
at Liberal Club, Whitehall. SW1A 2HE.
For tickets and further information please contact via 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Volunteers make the difference at Dartmoor wildlife haven

Six months hard work by volunteers has made a crucial difference for wildlife and people at one of Dartmoor's premier nature reserves. Volunteers and staff of Devon Wildlife Trust have together undertaken 110 days of labour during the past spring and summer at the charity's Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, which sits between Widecombe-in-the-Moor and Manaton. Together they have worked to increase public access and improve the reserve's mix of wildlife-rich mires, wet-woodlands and riverbanks.

The work has been made possible by funding of £14,640 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company through the Landfill Communities Fund, together with a contribution from the Parishscapes project, part of the Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Moor Than Meets The Eye scheme led by Dartmoor National Park Authority.   ¾ of a mile of new fencing will allow the charity to control the
numbers of grazing animals entering the reserve's mires, thus protecting their delicate communities of plants which include butterwort, cotton-grass and the insect-eating sundew.

Nine new gates were also installed, while paths have been cut through previously impenetrable gorse and scrub. The gates and paths now provide walks to parts of the reserve and along sections of its riverbank which were once off-limits to visitors. Boardwalks and way markers have also been added so that nearly 4 miles of trails now explore the reserve's 110 hectares of beautiful Dartmoor valley.

Andrew Taylor is one of 50 local volunteers who have worked hard to make the improvements. The Manaton man, who is also Devon Wildlife Trust's volunteer nature reserve warden for Emsworthy Mire, said:
"Emsworthy Mire is a big and very varied nature reserve with spectacular views of the surrounding Dartmoor tors. For four years I had it pretty much to myself as nobody else could find their way in, out or around it. This project has struck the right balance - the funders and Devon Wildlife Trust's volunteers have made it possible and enjoyable for people to explore Emsworthy and its amazing wildlife,but a visit here will always be an adventure".

Gareth Williams, Funded Projects Manager at Viridor Credits said:
"I am delighted to work again with our partners at Devon Wildlife Trust to not only enhance the wildlife value at Emsworthy but to also ensure that the access improvements mean it is accessible to as many people as possible to enjoy."

Community Heritage Officer Emma Stockley, who runs Parishscapes said:
"Parishscapes helps support local communities to run heritage projects and this has been a great opportunity to use a Parishscapes grant to help DWT and local volunteers make fantastic improvements to the Emsworthy site".

Like most of Devon Wildlife Trust's 49 nature reserves around the county, Emsworthy Mire is open 365 days a year and is free to enter. The charity recommends that visitors be prepared for some wet and muddy sections when going to Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, especially during autumn and winter.
Local volunteers laying boardwalks through Devon  Wildlife Trust's Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, Dartmoor
Local volunteers laying boardwalks through Devon Wildlife Trust's Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, Dartmoor
Emsworthy Mire nature reserve. Photo copyright Simon Williams (All rights reserved)
Emsworthy Mire nature reserve. Photo copyright Simon Williams (All rights reserved)

Visiting Emsworthy Mire Nature Reserve
To explore the reserve you can start at grid reference SX 748 761, Saddle Tor car park (head down into the network of stone-walled fields); or at SX 739 779, the layby at Holwell Lawn (look out for the new five-bar gate with Devon Wildlife Trust signs). Both of these entrances are on the seasonal Haytor Hoppa bus route. Mounted maps by the gateways show a network of paths which you can follow using arrowed marker posts and a series of boardwalks.
To plan a visit to this and other Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserves go to

Monday, 10 October 2016

Autumn Highlights. First ever Apple Day at Clovelly on Friday, 28th October

It is Apple Season – so Clovelly are holding our first Apple Day with lots of lovely apple crafts and activities. On arrival at Clovelly you will see apple pressing by Gatcombe Valley Juices outside the Visitor Centre, so please do bring a bag of apples, watch them being pressed and taste the fresh juice or if you wish, you can bring more for pasteurisation and bottling for which there will be a charge (£1.90 per 75 cl bottle).

On entry to Clovelly (free for children under 7 years old), you will find the Apple crafts and activities in the Visitor Centre from 12:00-16:00. The round shape of the apple with the great reds and greens makes the apple a perfect base for creating art. So enjoy some Apple Art with The Plough and either carve, sculpt, decorate or do all of them with your apple to enter the Apple Art Competition!

There will also be Live Music by "no rest for the fiddlers", apple bobbing, apple stamping, and especially for adults, apple cup making, which you can then use to enjoy a refreshing cider drink (available at the café bar) or perhaps some fresh apple juice! Clovelly Court Gardens produce, including a pick of pumpkins, will be on sale and Merry Harriers Garden Centre will also have some of their interesting products on display.

At 4pm families can take part in a fun Harvest Hunt with the Clovelly tour guide, Jana Edwards, who will take you down the village street telling spooky stories and looking for clues to win a harvest treat, finishing at the New Inn at 5:30pm. Please book your place on arrival as spaces are limited.
Clovelly Apple Day
Apple Day, Clovelly
Friday 28th October 2016
  Clovelly Visitor Centre/Clovelly High street
Time: Apple pressing: 11.00-13.00
Apple day activities: 12.00-16.00
Harvest Hunt: 16.00–17.30.
Contact: Visitor Centre. Tel: 01237 431781

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Protecting Devon's trees for the future at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank

A local charity is playing a key part in an initiative which is protecting the nation's 'tree heritage'.

Throughout October Devon Wildlife Trust is collecting seed from a series of well-known local wild tree and shrub species including rowan, crab apple, raspberry, silver birch, honey suckle and elder. The collections are an important part of a national project to protect the UK's trees.  The charity is undertaking the work as a partner in the UK National Tree Seed Project, which has been set up by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, with funding from players of People's Postcode Lottery.

The Devon seeds are being gathered by staff and volunteers at Devon Wildlife Trust's 49 nature reserves throughout the county. Tree seeds collected as part of the project will be safely banked in the underground vaults of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank - forming the UK's first national collection of tree seeds. These can then play a vital role in conservation work to protect UK trees and woodlands, including against pests and diseases such as ash dieback. The collections, and associated data, will be available to researchers working on solutions to tackle the many threats facing our woodlands.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Andrew Warren has been one of the team who have done the seed collection work. Andrew says:
"We have been asked to gather sufficient seeds to provide researchers and conservationists with the opportunity of increasing education, scientific research and a greater understanding of the challenges facing UK forests.

The project has also helped us focus on the amazing shapes, sizes and distribution of trees on our own nature reserves. Because we've had to seek out suitable trees of particular species it has meant going into half-forgotten and less accessible parts our nature reserves to find unfamiliar trees, rather than merely selecting a few well-known trees which live along the reserves' more obvious paths and routes."

Clare Trivedi, UK National Tree Seed Project Co-ordinator at Kew Gardens, says:
"Building up our seed collections of the nation's favourite and most important tree species is a vital step in combating the multiplying pests and diseases which threaten to alter our landscape dramatically. We are delighted that Devon Wildlife Trust is supporting this project to help us ensure that seeds from across the UK are collected and conserved."

The UK National Tree Seed Project launched in May 2013 with the aim of securing genetically diverse collections of UK native trees and shrubs. The species target list takes into account factors such as conservation status, prevalence in the landscape and vulnerability to pests and diseases. The target species include many which underpin the UK's wider plant and animal diversity, as well as supporting woodland industry, tourism and recreation, such as ash, juniper, Scots pine, alder, beech, silver birch and yew.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey says:
"As a charity working for the county's wildlife we are very conscious of the great pride that people hold for particular local trees. Because of the great age that trees can live to they become store-houses for people's memories and even for local folklore. The trees are, of course, also vital homes and food sources for local birds, insects, fungi and mammals. For these reasons they are priceless natural assets and we are very pleased to be doing our bit to preserve their distinctiveness for the future."

Devon Wildlife Trust's Andrew  Warren with part of the crab apple harvest from the charity's Dunsford nature  reserve - Photo copyright DWT (All rights Reserved)
Devon Wildlife Trust's Andrew Warren with part of the crab apple harvest from the charity's Dunsford nature reserve
Devon Wildlife Trust staff pick crab apples at the  charity's Dunsford nature reserve (Teign Valley) - Photo copyright DWT (All rights Reserved)
Devon Wildlife Trust staff pick crab apples at the charity's Dunsford nature reserve (Teign Valley)
All Photos copyright DWT (All rights Reserved)

Monday, 3 October 2016

Devon bound Wille and the Bandits "Steal Tour" October live gigs at Barnstaple and Plymouth

Wille and the Bandits "Steal Tour" kicked off on the 1st October, 39 dates in all including gigs at Plymouth The Junction on Friday 21st October and at Barnstaple, The Factory on Saturday 22nd. Their brand new album "Steal" will be available at shows ahead of the official release date in January 2017.

The band have been building a reputation throughout the UK and Europe as one of the best live acts around, playing over 200 gigs a year. Among the artists they have shared festival stages with are Joe Bonamassa, Deep Purple, JJ Grey, Beth Hart and Wilko Johnson. 

The UK trio's socially aware lyrics and multi-instrumentation makes for the most original and refreshing sound heard in years.

Now signed to the Jigsaw label, the new album "STEAL" sees the band deliver all the excitement and power of their electrifying live performances, while mixing it up with dynamic music choices, from hard to soft, electric to acoustic, a music roller coaster seldom achieved by recording artists these

The band of Wille Edwards (Lead Vocals, Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Electric Lap Steel, Weissenhorn and Dobro), Matt Brooks (Six String Electric Bass, Five String Double Bass, String Arrangements and Backing Vocals) and Andy Naumann (Drums and Percussion) are joined by Don Airey from Deep Purple (Hammond/Keyboards) for three tracks on the album.
Wille and the Bandits "Steal Tour"

gigs at PLYMOUTH, THE JUNCTION on Fri 21st Oct. 
and BARNSTAPLE, THE FACTORY on Sat. 22nd Oct.
Tap here for Tickets
The FactoryPetroc Brannams Campus Oakwood Close Barnstaple Devon EX31 3NJ
The Junction 6 Mutley Plain, Plymouth PL4 6LA

Friday, 30 September 2016

New report calls for more protected areas for marine wildlife

Today, The Wildlife Trusts publish a new report, 'The case for more Marine Conservation Zones'. The report identifies 48 areas at sea that still need protection for their marine habitats and wildlife.

Nine of the sites identified are off Devon's coasts, with two areas in the Bristol Channel, one in Lyme Bay and six Devon estuaries recommended as MCZs.

Following the designation of 50 Marine Conservation Zones since 2011 (of which six are in Devon) these new sites would complete a network of special places where habitats and wildlife can flourish to safeguard healthy and productive seas for the future.

All but one of the Devon sites in the report have already been recommended as Marine Conservation Zones in a previous report to the government following local consultations representing all groups of sea-users in the south west.

The new report is published in advance of the government's plans to announce a third and final phase of Marine Conservation Zones - the government plans to consult the public in 2017 and designate the chosen sites in 2018. The report will be presented to the environment minister, Therese Coffey.

Plymouth-based Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts, said: "This is an unprecedented opportunity to create an effective network of protected areas at sea.  If the government lives up to its stated commitments such a network would put us at the forefront of worldwide marine conservation. Designating these 48 wild havens as Marine Conservation Zones would go some way to guaranteeing a future for the extraordinarily diverse natural landscapes that exist beneath the waves off our coast.

"The government designated 50 MCZs in the first two phases. Unfortunately, this does not provide us with the really comprehensive network needed to enable marine wildlife to thrive once more. We need a sensible number, in the best locations and with the right degree of connectivity between areas. We hope that the government will aim high and hit the 48 mark for this last phase."

The nine MCZs recommended in coastal and offshore areas of Devon are:

1. Axe Estuary
Where? East Devon, near Seaton
Why? Important for saltmarsh and mudflats, feeding grounds for wading birds and nursery areas for fish such as bass

2. Dart Estuary:
Where? South Hams, upstream of Dartmouth
Why? Habitats provide food and shelter for huge range of species including seahorses, oysters, mussels, sponges and anemones.

3. Devon Avon Estuary
Where? South Hams, near Bigbury
Why? Important nursery areas for crustaceans, molluscs and juvenile fish

4. Erme Estuary
Where? South Hams
Why? Habitats for lobsters and crabs, spawning grounds for sea trout

5. Lyme Bay Deeps
Where? 1055 square kilometres in south-west of Lyme Bay - westernmost point 4 miles east of Torbay
Why? Area used by white beaked dolphins for feeding, breeding and raising their young. Also important for common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise. Basking shark and minke whale also recorded here. Feeding grounds for seabirds such as guillemot, razorbill and Balearic shearwater

6. Morte Platform
Where? Bristol Channel, 5km off Baggy Point
Why? Rich communities of subtidal living reefs including ross worm reefs and mussel beds which provide shelter for many other marine species

7. North-west of Lundy
Where? Bristol Channel, north-west of Lundy
Why? Diverse seabed habitats supporting higher than average range of species, including sandy, muddy and rocky habitats

8. Otter Estuary
Where? East Devon, near Budleigh Salterton
Why? Important for saltmarsh and mudflats, feeding grounds for wading birds such as curlew and lapwing. Nursery areas for several fish species

9. Taw/Torridge Estuary
Where? North Devon, near Barnstaple and Bideford
Why? Important habitat for migratory European eels, feeding grounds for wading birds, nursery area for fish such as bass

Harry Barton, Chief Executive of Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "Devon 's marine treasures include spectacular underwater reefs, waving forests of kelp and vital breeding grounds for our most charismatic ocean giants - whales, dolphins and porpoises. We've lost so much in the past, but we can be rightfully proud of what we still have. This is our chance to give our amazing marine wildlife the protection it deserves, and desperately needs."
Devon Wildlife Trust - Cuckoo Wrasse, Male, Plymouth Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)
Cuckoo Wrasse, Male, Plymouth Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)

Devon Wildlife Trust - Common Lobster Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)
Common Lobster Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)
Devon Wildlife Trust - Bass Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)
 Bass Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)

Proposed Marine Conservation Zones
You can find more information about the individual sites proposed within this report
Devon Wildlife Trust
Devon Wildlife Trust is the county's leading environmental voluntary body, with more
than 31,000 members. To find out more go to

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Stepping up to the South West Coast Path Challenge 2016.

Following the inaugural South West Coast Path Challenge in 2015, the next great stomp for charity kicks off on Saturday for a month-long series of events to raise funds to help protect this National Trail.

Organised by the South West Coast Path Association in partnership with the National Trust, registered participants are invited to set their own challenge or take part in one of the organised walks taking place throughout October.

Beginning with a 10-mile walk from Minehead to Porlock on Saturday (1st October), around 70 people are taking part, completing the first leg of the 630-mile route that provides continuous coastal access around the entire south west peninsula.

Among the participants are 14 school children from Wellington School. Their teacher, Mr Nigel Smith said:
“Wellington School are proud to support the Association’s Challenge as the students use the path for their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award and believe that it is vital to protect and preserve the path for future generations to enjoy.”

A husband and wife team have joined forces with their friends as part of their own challenge to eventually walk the entire 630-mile length of the South West Coast Path.
Keith Bailey said:
“I started my journey walking from South Haven Point in Dorset, the official end point of the Coast Path. The Minehead Challenge gives my wife Wendy and I the opportunity to walk the first section and so our future walks will now fill in the gaps in between.”
“Fundraising to enable the volunteers and teams to continue their amazing work is essential - particularly as government and local authority budgets come under increasing strain. I and my fellow team members are looking forward to contributing, albeit in a small way, to the continued funding needs whilst having an enjoyable day together on the Somerset coastline.”

Setting off from the start marker in Minehead, the route takes in the rugged moorland countryside and the highest coastline in England. Highlights include the stunning Exmoor scenery and a chance to spot rare plants and animals, including red deer.

You’ll witness the evidence of coastal erosion, where the 6000 year old shingle ridge across Porlock Bay was breached, resulting in dramatic flooding of the fields behind at each high tide to form Porlock Weir, where the walk ends.

If that gives you a taste for this coastal odyssey, you can join another 10-mile walk from Durlston to South Haven Point at the end of the month on Saturday 29th October.

Last year’s event saw more than 700 people clocking up around 9,000 miles and raising thousands of pounds in sponsorship. It is hoped that this record will be beaten and with more than 300 people taking place this weekend alone, it’s on track for success.

Money raised will go towards Path improvement projects to help protect the coastline for future generations. It costs at least £1,000 to maintain just 1 mile of Coast Path, plus an additional £2,000 for the Trust to take care of the land the surrounds it.
Funding for the trail has been in sharp decline for the past five years and it’s this motivating factor, to help plug the funding gap, that has inspired many of its rangers and National Trust staff to step up to the Challenge and organise their own events on the land that they care for on a daily basis. 
South West Coast Path Challenge 2016 -  Photo Porlock Weir copyright Andreas Byrne (All Rights Reserved)
 South West Coast Path Challenge 2016 -  Photo Porlock Weir copyright Andreas Byrne (All Rights Reserved)
For further information and to take part visit the Association’s website at 
or call 01752 896237. 
Registration costs from £10 per person and you’ll receive a fundraising pack and a Challenge 2016 t-shirt.  
Follow news of the Challenge @SWCoastPath #630challenge and on Facebook/southwestcoastpath

Saturday, 24 September 2016


They're back again! The Pistoleros are riding into Barnstaple again Although they've never really been away. Barry Ashworth's evergreen bunch of dubwise vagabonds will be rocking festivals thru the summer, and now it's back to the towns and city's previewing tracks from there soon to be released 7th album And it's going to be another corker.

Their last album 'The Return Of The Pistoleros' makes them sound like a Latin prison gang, extras in a spaghetti western, a marauding mob of Tequila-swigging mobsters, or a Mexican drug cartel. Some of which have a grain of truth to them. Joking aside, though, it's been a long road to get to where they are - one of the most popular and best-loved acts on the circuit - but it's testimony to their perseverance and staying power that their popularity still keeps increasing.

The Dubs have been dubbed 'The Pistoleros' in recent times by their army of fans - so it seemed only natural to adopt the tag for their latest album on Rob Da Bank's Sunday Best imprint. El Pistolero is also the nickname of Uruguay talisman Luiz Suarez, who knocked England out of the 2014 World Cup. But as Barry is a Liverpool fan, he's happy to still have this association. Just. The Dub Pistols coalesced in the mid-'90s and initially surfed the big beat wave along with acts like the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim. They had some minor chart hits like 'Cyclone' and 'There's Gonna Be A Riot' on Concrete Records, remixed the likes of Moby and Limp Bizkit, and made dramatic inroads into America.

Their debut album in 1998, 'Point Blank', cemented their position as party-rockers extraordinaire, and by the time it came to their second album around the Millennium - 'Six Million Ways To Live', with guest vocals by reggae great Horace Andy and lead singer of The Specials, Terry Hall - they were more concerned with some of the world's problems. The album was due to come out just before September 11th 2001 - the date of the Twin Towers terrorist attack in New York - and so had to be postponed. It was the start of the now-familiar Dub Pistols self-deprecating mantra: what could possibly go wrong?

As the noughties progressed, they signed to Sunday Best and went a bit more poppy for 'Speakers & Tweeters', which included cover versions of 'Rapture' by Blondie, 'Peaches' by The Stranglers and 'Gangsters' by The Specials - a track they had been making their own live. After guesting on their second album with 'Problem Is', estranged Specials singer Terry Hall started singing live with them, and the warm reaction he received from music fans was instrumental in him agreeing to reform his infamous 2-Tone band a few years later.

Next Dubs album 'Rum & Coke', so named after some infamous recording sessions in Barbados, introduced more guest vocalists such as former Freak Power man Ashley Slater and Beats International gal Lindy Layton, and with last long-player 'Worshipping The Dollar' in 2012  they consolidated their position as one of the foremost festival-rockers in Europe.

The Dubs toured with Neville Staple from The Specials at the start of 2014, and this led to the toaster guesting on 'Real Gangster' on the new 'Pistoleros' album. On the album, 'Our Life' is a free-spirited dub cut featuring long-term Dubs vocalists Lindy Layton and TK Lawrence. Languid beats song 'Say Goodbye' features the deep jazzual tones of Ashley Slater, 'Report' showcases major new hip-hop talent Genesis Elijah freeflowing over some lilting Dan Bowskill verses, and 'Kill Your Sound' has great reggae vocalist Seanie Tee all over it. 'Roll & Come In' sees the legendary Earl 16 (Leftfield etc) return to add sweet words to this spacious dub cut, and regular MC Darrison guests on dubwise drum & bass party track 'Ride With It'. And there's plenty more where that came from - it is, indeed, another corker.

Like their incendiary live shows, this new long-player is a riotous mix of dub, drum & bass, hip-hop, punk and ska. They'll be heading out on tour this autumn in support of the new 'Pistoleros'  release, so watch out! The gun-slinging outlaws are back in town - and this time, they're swigging Tequila.
Dub Pistols return to The Factory Petroc, Barnstaple 30th September 2016
Dub Pistols return to The Factory Petroc, Barnstaple 30th September 2016

DOORS 19.30 - 23.00 TICKETS: £15.00 +BF
BEATS WORKIN - 01271 321111

The Factory Petroc Brannams Campus Oakwood Close Barnstaple Devon EX31 3NJ

Friday, 23 September 2016

Countryfile's Ellie Harrison urges people to 'Say Yes to Wildlife'

Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison is the face behind a new campaign to help reverse the fortunes of the South West's struggling wildlife.

The campaign features a short film released by Devon Wildlife Trust and other Wildlife Trust's in the South West and which showcases the work they do for people and nature. It includes images of Devon's Wembury Bay and Dartmoor, along with wildlife favourites including otters, hedgehogs and barn owls.

In the film Ellie Harrison explains:
"Growing up in the countryside meant the sounds and sights of the great outdoors filled my childhood with wonder."
However she concludes:
"Sadly today much of our wildlife is fighting for its existence."

It's a claim supported in a recent report. The State of Nature released on Wednesday 14th September brought together expert research on how our wildlife is faring. The report's conclusions were stark with 56% of species surveyed found to be in decline since 1970 and a startling 15% of all species surveyed facing the threat of extinction.

In Devon once familiar animals have become scarce with cuckoos declining by 80% since 1977, and the sites at which lapwings are breeding having shrunk by 97% to just two isolated spots.

However, against this bleak background the film provides a positive message for the future. Ellie explains how she was inspired by the work of The Wildlife Trusts restoring urban and rural landscapes for people and nature. The film also showcases the efforts of hundreds of Wildlife Trusts' volunteers who work in the South West to protect wildlife for the future. It also depicts the charity's many nature reserves and their role as vital havens for wildlife.

It was this inspiration which moved Ellie Harrison to speak out for nature: "When my local Wildlife Trust asked me if I'd lend my support I immediately said,yes! Yes to helping nature recover on land, in rivers and in the sea. I said yes to fighting for the things that I love and value."

Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey said:
"We're delighted that Ellie Harrison is backing our 'Say Yes to Wildlife' campaign. Her film shows how much nature means to her and how its present day predicament has moved her to back The Wildlife Trusts."
"We're hoping other people will follow Ellie's example and 'Say Yes to Wildlife' and we think the best place to start is to watch her wonderful new film."

You can watch Ellie's video at the Devon Wildlife Trust's website
Countryfile's Ellie Harrison urges people to 'Say Yes to Wildlife'

Tap link to view State of Nature Report

Thursday, 22 September 2016

State of Nature 2016. More than one in ten UK species threatened with extinction, new study finds

It's not too late to save UK nature but we must act now - that is the conclusion from a coalition of more than 50 leading wildlife and research organisations behind the State of Nature 2016 report.

Following on from the groundbreaking State of Nature report in 2013, leading professionals from 53 wildlife organisations have pooled expertise and knowledge to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our native species across land and sea. The report reveals that over half (56 per cent) of UK species studied have declined since 1970, while 15 per cent (1,199 of the nearly 8,000 species assessed in the UK) are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

Harry Barton, chief executive of the Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "This report provides the most detailed picture of the state of our wildlife ever. There are some successes to be proud of here in Devon, beavers, otters and little egrets among them, but overall the tide continues to move rapidly in the wrong direction. More than half the world's wildlife has disappeared since 1970. It is still within our gift to turn this around and recover much of that loss. But if we want to avoid a similar disastrous decline over the next generation, all of us are going to have to do much more, think a lot more radically, and be far braver."

There are many inspiring examples of conservation action that is helping to turn the tide. From pioneering science that has revealed for the first time the reasons why nature is changing in the UK, to conservation work - such as the recovery of the cirl bunting in Devon, and its reintroduction to Cornwall, the return of beavers to Devon for the first time in centuries, and the reintroduction of cranes in Somerset and the large blue butterfly, also in Somerset - and the restoration of areas of our uplands, meadows and coastal habitats. But more is needed to put nature back where it belongs.

Nick Bruce-White, regional director of the RSPB in the South West, said: "Whilst the State of Nature report clearly shows the challenges we face in terms of winning the war on biodiversity loss, where we are working together to exert sustained effort we are winning battles.

"The recovery of the cirl bunting, a small, colourful farmland bird, which suffered catastrophic decline in the Twentieth Century because of changes to agriculture, is a great example of this, an example of 'total conservation': a problem was identified; solutions trialled and developed using sound science; an urgency to address the problem was established; and commitment was shown - from farmers, government agencies, conservationists, businesses and communities - to take action. We need to use this State of Nature report as a warning siren and take action now, before we lose all hope of passing on a healthier natural environment to the next generation."

Andrew Whitehouse, South West manager at Buglife said: "Cornwall and Devon support incredible wildlife riches, but the counties are not immune from the pressures that have affected our wildlife elsewhere.  Our South West Bees Project has shown that many of our bee species are struggling to survive in an increasingly degraded countryside. But there are some good news stories, Devon and Cornwall are national hotspots for oil beetles which can be seen around our coast in the spring, and there is enormous potential to help our wildlife recover."

Liam Creedon, of Butterfly Conservation, said: "The wild and windswept expanses of Exmoor and Dartmoor are not only amongst the most evocative places in the UK but they are also strongholds to some of our rarest butterflies. Butterfly Conservation's Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project is improving habitat for the marsh fritillary, high brown fritillary and heath fritillary on these moors, to help restore and reconnect suitable habitat to provide sustainable populations for the future."

Dr Trevor Dines, of Plantlife, said: "An ancient wildflower meadow can be destroyed within a single morning and this quiet catastrophe has befallen more than 97 percent of our wildflower meadows and grasslands since the Second World War. Where there were once flowers at our feet there is now a factory floor, little more than green concrete. Ask any member of the public and I bet they'd want more of a balance, wildlife and production, not one instead of the other. For all the doom and gloom of these shocking statistics, our wildlife is resilient. If we provide plants and animals the right conditions they will come back from the brink, we just have to give them a chance."

Alex Raeder, of the National Trust in the South West, said: "This report is wake up call to everybody who loves nature and values the natural environment. We cannot sit on our hands and let our natural heritage slip away. Whilst some of our most important sites remain in reasonable condition it is clear that in the wider countryside, where most of us live, wildlife that was once common is being lost. We must create opportunities to bring the South West's birds, bees, butterflies and flowers back to our countryside, by working in partnership to create landscapes rich in nature."

As the UK Government and devolved administrations move forward in the light of the EU Referendum result, there is an opportunity to secure world leading protection for our species and restoration of our nature. Now is the time to make ambitious decisions and significant investment in nature to ensure year-on-year improvement to the health and protection of the UK's nature and environment for future generations.

The State of Nature 2016 UK report was launched by Sir David Attenborough and UK conservation and research organisations at the Royal Society in London on Wednesday, September 14, while separate events were held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

Sir David Attenborough said: "The future of nature is under threat and we must work together; Governments, conservationists, businesses and individuals, to help it. Millions of people in the UK care very passionately about nature and the environment and I believe that we can work together to turn around the fortunes of wildlife."

In order to reduce the impact we are having on our wildlife, and to help struggling species, we needed to understand what's causing these declines. Using evidence from the last 50 years, experts have identified that significant and ongoing changes in agricultural practices are having the single biggest impact on nature.

The widespread decline of nature in the UK remains a serious problem to this day. For the first time scientists have uncovered how wildlife has fared in recent years. The report reveals that since 2002 more than half (53 per cent) of UK species studied have declined and there is little evidence to suggest that the rate of loss is slowing down.

To find out how you can do your bit to save UK wildlife 
Devon Wildlife Trust's Volehouse Moor nature reserve, North Devon. Photo copyright David Chamberlain (All rights reserved)

An iconic Devon landscape: Devon Wildlife Trust's Volehouse Moor nature reserve, North Devon. Photo copyright David Chamberlain (All rights reserved)

For a full copy of the State of Nature 2016 report

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

“WHAAM” - Westward Ho! & Appledore Music Showcase

“WHAAM Showcase” is Westward Ho! & Appledore’s new event presenting North Devon bands and singers performing in aid of the Royal National Life Institution's Appledore Lifeboat Station

On 28th September this first Music Showcase will feature some of the most innovative and talented musicians in North Devon. Presenting a broad spectrum of music from rock ’n roll bands to folksy bands and individual singers, this Showcase will be an exciting evening at one of the top entertainment venues in the area – The Pier House, Westward Ho!

The Mayor of Northam, Councillor Chris Leather will officially open WHAAM.

Acts will include Dogleg, Mark Jenkins, Jenna Witts, Dave Clinch, Nat’s Blanket, The Muddy Boots, Chris Millington, The Dambuskers, Gary Meades and The Rocking Good Knights.

There will also be a Grand Raffle in aid of the RNLI.

There will be a “surprise feature” before the main programme.

Local companies and organisations will be Sponsoring the Showcase and kindly donating prizes for the Raffle. To date:
  • Principal Sponsor - Robert Braddick of BRADDICKS LEISURE
  • Major Sponsors are Kitemare – Surf & Kiteshop, Rock Pool Cafe, The Co-operative Food, Cafe Italia Pizzeria, F. Heard Quality Meats Ltd and Johns of Appledore.
“North Devon has a first class reputation for being a centre of excellence for live music events.” said Showcase organisers, John Barton and Martin Chapple. “We’re excited to be a part of this and to be bringing a showcase of local musical talent to the wider public”.

WHAAM - Westward Ho! & Appledore Music Showcase
Doors open at 6.00pm and the entertainment will run continuously from 7.00pm to midnight with a short break at 9.00pm for the Grand Raffle.
All of this for only £5 a ticket! Children 12 and under FREE.
Admission will include a strip of raffle tickets.
Tickets will be on sale at the Delicadevon, 32 Nelson Road, Westward 'Ho! together with Johns of Appledore on the Quay and at the door of The Pier House Function Room. 
(All proceeds to the RNLI Appledore)
Details are available from