Easter Egg Trail in the Plym Valley

The nation wide Easter trail event that took place on Good Friday was a great success for us down in the Plym Valley. With more than 200 people following clues along the canal path that eventually lead to the “Easter village” at the end of the trail.

The village was a way of creating the kind of atmosphere you find at most village fate’s; a warming community spirit that aimed to keep people engaged in the event long after the trail had finished. This seemed to work as some families remained on site for 2 or so hours after they’d completed the trail, a resounding success.

Despite being cold, the event went off without a hitch with everyone really enjoying themselves. Alison from Opal came down with a volunteer encouraging children to forage for spring plants as part of the activities which also included the Easter bunny handing out chocolate eggs, games on the lawn and a sizeable craft tent thanks to Fred at Parke.

A lovely day had by all.

Plym Valley team

Plym Bridge Cycle trail – update

The National Trust today (Thursday 13th September 2012) confirmed that it will be shortly submitting a planning application to Plymouth City Council to develop a new 4km off-road single-track cycle trail and increase parking spaces within the existing car park in Plymbridge Woods.

This new moderate (blue) grade cycle trail will be ideal for people looking for a more adventurous leisure ride exploring the woodlands alongside the River Plym. Most importantly this cycle trail links up to the existing Route 27 Sustrans Trail in the valley bottom which is already popular with families and can be ridden either in a 6km loop or as part of a wider cycle ride along theSustrans Route.

The Trust has conducted a series of public consultations including the formation of a stakeholder group.  This work and involvement of many local people and organisations has helped the Trust pull together what it strongly believes are the most appropriate plans for Plymbridge balancing the needs of different users of the site.  The Trust is extremely grateful to all who have given up their time and contributed their thoughts and views.

The application includes re-shaping theNational Trustcar park on the Plympton side of the river to increase car parking spaces although the aim of the project is to encourage new users to arrive by bike.  In the longer term the Trust will be working with other local partners to seek to provide visitor ‘gateway’ facilities such as a café, toilets and cycle hire at Coypool.

The Trust is committed to encouraging wider enjoyment of the countryside long-term. At Plymbridge we feel this new adventurous cycling offer complements the existing cycling facility of route 27 whilst not impacting unduly on other users of the woods and that the proposed trail will be of real benefit to many existing and new visitors to the site.

The National Trust is maintaining its commitment to helpingPlymouthresidents and visitors to the area to enjoy cycling. As well as the plan for the new cycle trail in Plymbridge Woods, we are involved in other cycling projects inPlymouthsuch as the BMX project at Marsh Mills, which was originally an idea from local young people inPlymouth. The Trust is working closely with Plymouth Youth Services, Plymouth City Council, Network Rail, Sustrans, Environment Agency and the local community to develop the BMX trail at Marsh Mills.

The development at Plymbridge is part of the Trust’s ‘Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature’ programme – enabling the Trust to improve and diversify people’s access and enjoyment of its land through more opportunities for walking, cycling, kayaking, camping and other recreational activities.

Mark Harold, National Trust Regional Director said: “Enabling people to explore and enjoy our properties more fully and in different ways is a real priority for us in the South West and we believe that this off road cycling trail at Plymbridge will really add to the enjoyment of these beautiful woods for those that cycle there already and for new audiences too.”

Paul Hawkins from 1 South West Cycling said: “The original trail proposals proved controversial but a lot of thought has gone into considering concerns that were raised, two key ones being reducing shared use paths and reducing proximity to residences.  We are confident that the new scaled down plans will still lead to many people enjoying and valuing the woodlands, and at the same time add weight to the case for a visitor gateway at Coypool.”

Development of the cycle trail and car-park will be funded through the Rural Development Programme forEnglandandNational Trustinternal funds.  TheNational Trustwill be making a significant contribution covering the cost of car park works and some of the trail work.  Ongoing management and maintenance of the trails will be carried out by theNational Trustand it’s staff.

Plymbridge has its own Facebook site where you’ll find all the latest information on the proposed project. The Planning Application Reference number will be posted here as soon as available, along with details of how to submit your comments to Plymouth County Council and the deadline.  Keep in touch with the project on theirFacebook page or their Twitter page If you have a specific enquiry please email the National Trust atPlymvalley@nationaltrust.org.uk  or call 01752 341377.

Go Batty in the Woods

Do you often find yourself asking: What’s the point of bats? Do bats suck blood? Are bats blind? What on earth is echolocation?

If the answer is yes, then a night going batty in the woods is just the thing for you.

Come and join the NT Ranger for a night walk through Plym Bridge Woods to learn more about these mysterious creatures.

When?

Thursday 23 August 8pm til 10pm

Where?

Meet in the National Trust car park in Plymbridge Woods (Grid ref: SX 524 585)

What else do I need to know?

To book, call 01752 341377

Adults £4, Children £2

Wear sturdy shoes and bring a torch. If you have your own bat dectector, bring that along too.

Douglas Fir at Plymbridge.

 

In Plymbridge Woods, over the past few weeks, visitors may well have noticed the freshly cut wood within the Douglas Fir plantation. This is the result of Chainsaw Milling operations that have been carried out by Rangers and contractors.

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menzeisii), also sometimes called Oregon Pine or Douglas Spruce, is a softwood species that originates from Western North American. With relatively good durability, it has numerous timber applications.

The Douglas Fir used at PlymBridge, which had been previously felled and allowed to season, was milled and converted into a variety of sizes. This resulting timber will be used on the estate for a number of maintenance projects including repairs to the roadside fencing.

Hedge Laying Midlands Style!

Last week, visitors to Plymbridge Woods may have come across National Trust Rangers hedge laying Midlands style.

 

 

The vegetation (predominantly Hawthorn) utilised was cut, but not completely severed at the base, and then laid at a 30º angle whilst woven between wooden stakes simultaneously. To hold the laid vegetation in place, a top binding was then applied using thin lengths of Hazel stems from coppiced areas in the woodland.

 

The vegetation was planted in a particular way that would allow it to be laid with ease some years later.

 

The decision to create a Midlands style hedge was based upon the absence of a bank beneath the planted vegetation, unlike a Devon style hedgerow. The latter is characteristic of most hedgerows in Devon and the South West, where the vegetation is cut in a similar way, but then laid flat on the bank and “stapled” to the surface using pieces of wood called crooks.

 

Laying the hedge will allow more light onto a nearby entrance area to the  woodland, as well as allow the hedgerow vegetation to temporarily avoid the less careful trimming devices used, to maintain a clear route on the adjacent road. The task has also allowed National Trust Rangers to utilise newly acquired skills in hedge laying. Members of the Plym Valley team have recently been attending courses hosted by the Devon Rural Skills Trust on hedge laying, as well as those covering coppicing, stone faced banking and hand tool maintenance.

 

Hedgerows are vital habitats for an array of wildlife, including this ladybird who decided to move in just as we finished.

Plym Valley Volunteers 1 – 0 Laurel

Volunteers were out in force last weekend in Plymbridge Woods assisting the Rangers with the continuing task of laurel bashing and burning.

On Saturday, we were joined by students from Plymouth University including members of the Environmental Society from the Students’ Union. This formed part of our new programme of volunteering opportunities available to the students throughout the academic year. Sunday saw South Devon National Trust Volunteers lending a helping hand, as they regularly do with many tasks here in the Plym Valley and other NT properties. Both groups attacked this prolific invader of native woodlands with great energy and determination, making a considerable dent in our efforts to eradicate this species from Plymbridge Woods.

Students from the University of Plymouth

South Devon National Trust Volunteers

Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is native to the Balkans (Southeastern Europe) but has been grown for ornamental purposes across Europe and has become naturalised in open woodland. Due to its vigorous growth habits and adaptability to varying climatic conditions, it out competes our native plant species for space and light. It also has limited value to our native fauna. Eventually, we will replant areas previously dominated by laurel with native tree species in order to enhance the biodiversity of the woodland.

 

 

 

Students escape a warm library for an afternoon in the rain….!

Last Wednesday (9th November) afternoon, students from the University of Plymouth braved the continuous down pour of rain, to help the Plym Valley ranger team remove fly tipping and garden waste around the boundaries of Plymbridge Woods. Such refuse poses a threat to the natural balance of the woodland, with garden waste in particular likely to introduce non-native invasive plant species.

The student volunteers worked enthusiastically to help complete the work, despite the weather. The dumped material was collected and taken back to Plym Valley HQ, where a fire was burning ready for the garden waste, as well as a highly earned cup of tea and biscuits for those involved.

Students from the university are becoming more and more involved with the management of the Plym Valley estate. Many have undertaken research projects on site, which in turn have deepened the management team’s understanding on subjects ranging from peatlands to bats. For the last three summers, some have undertaken an 8 week work placement on site and more recently, have assisted with fund raising events such as the Halloween trail. In connection with the volunteering department at the university’s students’ union, it is hoped that we will have a helping hand from students at least once a month, with the practical management of the property.

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!

 

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!