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