Bees and Morris Dancers at Castle Drogo

Come along to Castle Drogo this Sunday 20 May between 11am and 4pm for our bee day in the orchard. There will be the chance to explore our young orchard and meet our resident bee keeper. There will also be activities such as candle rolling and bee house making and we have story telling in the orchard throughout the day.

 

Castle Drogo will also be host to around 160 Morris Dancers who will be at Drogo as part of Raddon Hill Morris’s festival of dance. They will be dancing at Visitor Reception and outside the castle from 11am-12pm and from 1.15-2.15pm.

Training for the Ten Tors.

Training for the National Trust’s ‘Wild Tribe’ Ten Tors team continued last weekend with a trip to the north moor with Torquay Boys Grammar School.

A circular route starting from Belstone village took in visits to Scarey Tor, East Mill Tor, Wild Tor, Hound Tor and Cosden Beacon.

With good weather conditions and clear visibility supporting the ’45 mile’ team’s excellent progress, there was even time at the end of the day for an additional  climb up Irishmans Wall to the top of Belstone Tor!

 

 

Ghosts and Ghouls visit Plymbridge

Over 200 children and parents descended on Plymbridge Woods to be scared out of their wits on our annual Halloween trail.

This year saw the trail reach new spooky heights, with the help of 10 actors from the University of Plymouth. Haunting sounds of a howling werewolf and a ghostly steam train kept people on edge as they walked the candlelit trail.

All the actors were dedicated to their task of giving the children a fright, and it was difficult to know whether Dracula, the Grim Reaper, the Witches, the Mummy, or Frankenstein were the most frightening. The Litter Ghoul warned children about the penalty of dropping litter so well that several parents felt that message had hit home.

 

The children were particularly terrified of the Troll, played by one of our regular volunteers, Jim Bloomfield, as he roared and refused to let people cross his bridge.

Despite the rain, everyone had an excellent time. Now all we have to do is figure out how we can make it even scarier next year!

 

Plym Bridge Cycle Hub and Trails

The National Trust has today (Monday 31st October) announced that it is withdrawing its planning applications for the proposed cycle hub and trails at Plymbridge Woods on the edge of Plymouth.

This decision has been made following the recent discovery of a restrictive covenant which affects the site of the proposed hub cafe. The trails themselves are not affected, but as the trails and the café are inextricably linked (both in funding and practical terms), the applications for the whole scheme have been withdrawn, pending revisions.

John Longworth-Krafft, Assistant Director of Operations for the Trust said “Restrictive covenants are a complex area and the detail of this restrictive covenant remains unclear despite a great deal of work by our lawyers. We have therefore made the decision to withdraw whilst we understand our options. We are very aware that this will be a real disappointment to the many people and organisations that support our plans, and want to stress to these supporters that we are not abandoning this project.  We are also fully aware of concerns expressed by various local residents and users of the woods: The withdrawal of the application in order to deal with the restrictive covenant will also enable us to discuss these concerns with everyone and address them where necessary in the revised scheme”.

Mark Harold, the Trust’s Regional Director explained “The Trust is committed to achieving an off-road cycle facility at Plymbridge. We believe it offers significant public benefit, and it will be a flagship project for the National Trust in the South West, as part of our national ‘Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature’ programme. This programme is an absolute priority for this region, enabling us to improve and diversify people’s access and enjoyment of Trust land – through more opportunities for walking, cycling, kayaking, camping and other recreational activities.”

Paul Hawkins 1SouthWest Project Manager said “1 South West appreciates the situation that the National Trust finds itself in, and will be fully supporting the Trust in resubmitting the application in due course. Plymbridge is a prime strategic site for a development of this nature, offering realistic car-free access for a large number of people, and the presence of a National Trust team able to provide long term management. European funds have been made available to develop off-road cycling in South West England, and it is important for Plymouth to be a part of this unique opportunity.”

The National Trust will engage further with the community as part of the process of revising the scheme, with the aim of submitting fresh planning applications in early 2012.

Plymbridge Withdrawal of Planning Application Q&A

Q      Why has the Trust decided to withdraw its application?
We made this decision following our recent discovery of a restrictive covenant which affects the site of the proposed hub cafe. The trails themselves are not affected, but as the trails and the café are inextricably linked (both in funding and practical terms), the applications for the whole scheme have been withdrawn, pending revisions.

Q      Surely you should have found the restrictive covenant before you submitted an application?
This was an oversight. It is unusual for the Trust to have restrictive covenants on its own land. Once we discovered the restrictive covenant (which was after the planning applications had been submitted), the implications were unclear, and are still unclear. It has only been in the last few weeks that we have recognised that this restrictive covenant potentially affects the hub building proposal. Our lawyers have been urgently investigating it, but while investigations are continuing, we have made the decision to withdraw the planning applications in order to give more time to deal with this matter.

 Q      What is a restrictive covenant?
A restrictive covenant is a legal instrument which restricts the landowner from carrying out certain activities.

 Q      What does this restrictive covenant say?
The restrictive covenant relates to the meadow, and focuses on maintaining the amenity of the land for public enjoyment, together with potential restrictions on the proposed hub building.

 Q      Who does this restrictive covenant benefit?
We do not know. This is something we are still working to understand, and is one reason the matter is complex. The documents available to us through the Land Registry do not tell us, and a trail of sales and purchases over at least 25 years have to be followed.

 Q      Are we bowing to the pressure from the opposition?
No – we feel that it would be inappropriate to continue with the planning applications until we have resolved the restrictive covenant issue.

 Q      How have the Trust’s supporters taken the news?
Those who we have spoken to understand that the decision was made because of the restrictive covenant, and not because of a loss of commitment in the scheme. They are looking forward to our re-submission in due course. We are contacting all those who wrote to us to explain the situation, and we are stressing to all our supporters that we are not abandoning this project.

 Q      How can the Trust now withdraw a proposal that it felt was so important?
This is only a temporary situation. We will be revising the scheme and submitting a fresh planning application, engaging further with the community as part of the process.

 Q      Is the Trust now going back on the great importance it placed on developing a cycle hub?
Definitely not: The Trust is committed to achieving an off-road cycle facility at Plymbridge. We believe it offers significant public benefit, and it will be a flagship project for the National Trust in the South West, as part of our national ‘Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature’ programme. This programme is an absolute priority for this region, enabling us to improve and diversify people’s access and enjoyment of Trust land.

 Q      How much money has this cost the National Trust and was it worth it?
The money that has been spent so far was essential to progressing the scheme to this stage, and is not wasted as we intend to resubmit planning applications next year.

 Q      Should you be spending National Trust members’ money like this?
This project is an important part of our national ‘Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature’ programme, which is an absolute priority for the South West region, enabling us to improve and diversify people’s access and enjoyment of Trust land. We are convinced that this programme is vital to the long term future of the Trust, and therefore we believe that using some of our funds on this project at Plymbridge is appropriate.

 Q      What is the Trust going to do now?
We will be investigating the covenant situation in more detail, and engaging further with the community as part of the process of revising the scheme. The aim is to submit fresh planning applications in early 2012.

The River Plym: Source to Saltram

Last Saturday,  Rangers  from the Plym Valley led a guided walk down the River Plym as part of the National Trust’s first ever nationwide Walking Festival which is running from the 22 – 30 October.

 

 

The Plym Valley walk covered 16 miles from its source at Plym Head all the way to Saltram House. Included along the way were stops at Cadover Bridge, Shaugh Bridge and Plym Bridge which encouraged those people looking for a shorter walk to join in.

Checkpoint at Cadover Bridge

In total, 16 people joined the event at various points with the intrepid 7 starting the walk at 8am, being rewarded with an impressive sunrise! Weather conditions for the day were excellent and ground conditions for Dartmoor in late October were surprisingly dry.

On the way to Plym Bridge

 

The finish at Saltram House was reached at 3 o’clock with a much welcomed tea or coffee (and biscuits!). A thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all with several also expressing an interest to do it all again next year!

 

Hele’s School Stops the Clock with the National Trust

The National Trust welcomed over 100 students from Hele’s School to undertake conservation tasks on Friday 23rd September. Plymbridge Woods, Saltram, and Wembury took part in the day, in which Year 11 were invited to have day out of school learning about nature conservation.

The group working at Plymbridge Woods created a glade next to the Railway Cottages. Advice was sought from the National Trust’s Archaeology expert and the vision of an open glade between the ruined Workshop and Railway Cottages was agreed. The students were given the big task of beginning the clearance operation. The area was thick with brambles, vines, nettles, shrubs, and saplings. They surpassed all expectations by clearing the whole area. The other activity involved working alongside Plymbridge Wood’s Ranger team in the task of laurel felling and burning. The students learnt a great deal about practical conservation management, and the safe and correct use of tools to do the job.

The Plym Valley team arranged for the rest of the year group to visit other National Trust properties nearby. At Wembury the pupils began by cleaning the beach, and after lunch they joined the Rangers clearing gorse. Meanwhile at Saltram the pupils assisted the Head Gardener in managing the hedgerows, and worked alongside the Rangers whilst they cleared and thinned an area of scrub.

There was also time for each property to lead an educational walk, in which plenty of trees, plants and wildlife was spotted and identified.

It was a wonderful opportunity for the pupils of Hele’s School to get some hands on practical conservation experience that will help to broaden their career horizons. They worked really hard and achieved an enormous amount at all three properties. We’d certainly be happy to have them again!

Spitfire over Drogo

***UPDATE***

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will now be a Hurricane and is currently expected at 14.25.

 

On Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 September Castle Drogo will be rolling back the years and recreating the atmosphere of war time Britain with our World War Two Weekend.

 

Whether you want to turn back the clock and see the sights and sounds of the 1940’s or have a great family day out, there will be lots to see and do as the Castle grounds will be transformed into a bustling war time camp, complete with military vehicles, re-enactors, music of the period and family activities.

 

As this year marks 100 years since building work on Castle Drogo started there will be a very special flypast by a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire on Saturday 24 at 1.40pm.

 

Children can participate in an Evacuee Trail around the Castle and grounds to take them through the Home Front experience. They will be able to find out about evacuation, the Blitz, air raid shelters, rationing, code breaking and take part in other exciting activities as they play the part of an evacuee arriving and surviving at Drogo.

 

To add to the atmosphere, the volunteers of the Military Vehicle Trust are    co-ordinating a display of 40 vehicles including war time ambulances, jeeps, command cars and weapons carriers, along with almost 100 associated re-enactors. There will be many varied display tents and demonstrations including the chance to try on clothing of the period.

 

Blitz and Peaces will be roaming the Castle and grounds performing music of the period and visitors will be invited to join in. They will also be performing a special air raid concert in the Chapel at 3pm each day.

 

During the war, Castle Drogo was used by the Church of England’s “Waifs and Strays Society” as a home for evacuees and orphaned children. This was ably run by a Matron in Charge and Mary Drewe, daughter of Julius Drewe, the founder of the Home and Colonial Stores for whom the castle was built. There were probably 30 to 50 children in attendance at any one time with the Dining Room being used as the children’s day room, where they took their meals and studied, and the adjoining Service Corridor where they had their afternoon naps.  The children from the Society were also allowed access to part of the Castle grounds and particularly enjoyed playing in the Bunty House, which can still be seen at the Castle.

 

Normal admission charges apply plus £2 per person for trail and activities. Please telephone (01647) 433306 for more details of the event.