Fire engines, police and our local rescue teams at Lydford Gorge

Local rescue charities and branches of emergency services, National Trust and Dartmoor National Park Authority are holding their second safety on Dartmoor day at Lydford Gorge near Tavistock on Sunday 23 June between 10am and 4.30pm.

On the day, there will be the opportunity to look round fire engines, police cars and ambulances plus meet the local fire fighters, police officers, air ambulance crew and rescue dogs. The air sea rescue helicopter will pop in for an appearance during the day as well as the police Oscar 99 and Devon Air ambulance, if jobs allow.  There will be a flypast by a WW2 Spitfire to salute all the emergency services on Dartmoor due at 1pm


The day will also include live rescues from the gorge and demonstrations, including red watch cliff rescue from Camelshead Rescue and Dartmoor Rescue.  There will also be an opportunity to meet the Dartmoor Rescue dogs and have a go on emergency simulator machines.

Free admission.  For further details about Lydford Gorge please visit  or call 01822 820320 or


The outdoors becomes more accessible

Parke now open to all thanks to launch of ‘off road’ mobility scooter hire scheme!

An all-terrain mobility scooter that can go ‘off road’ is opening up the National Trust’s Parke estate, near Bovey Tracey, to people who have difficulty walking.

The ‘Tramper’ scooter has been provided by the Devon based charity Living Options Devon as part of a scheme to open up the countryside to people with limited mobility. Called Countryside Mobility South West,,  the scheme has introduced Trampers to around 30 sites across the region

The scheme is proving extremely popular with people of all ages who want to get out and enjoy the countryside. For Mrs Love from Nailsea, the Tramper has been an enormous help.

Tramper use at Parke

She said: “ I visited Parke today with my family and we had a great visit.  I was able to go to so many more places than I could have without the Tramper”

The rangers have been working hard over the past few years to make the estate and surrounding paths at Parke as accessible to as many people as possible but due to the wild nature of the site this has been challenging. The Tramper now based here changes all that and means people who have difficulty walking can explore much more of the estate when they visit.

The Trampers can go up and down slopes, over bumps and tree roots, through shallow puddles, mud and soft ground and are for use by anyone aged 14 or over who has a permanent or temporary condition that affects their ability to walk. With a top speed of four miles an hour they can keep pace with the briskest walking companion.

James Maben from Countryside Mobility explained:  “Trampers are for everyone who wants to enjoy the countryside but can’t manage much walking. You do not have to be registered as a disabled person, or have a Blue Badge. Many people have found that Trampers have given them back their freedom, enabling them to enjoy time outdoors alone, with their partner or on a family outing”.

To use the Trampers, people simply choose a site and arrange their first visit.  On arrival, they join as members of Countryside Mobility which costs £10.00 per year or £2.50 for 4 weeks. Training is provided on how to use a Tramper lasting approximately 10 minutes.  They are then given a membership card, which enables them to use a Tramper at any partner site without the need for further training.  There is a small hire charge to be paid for each visit.

The scheme has been supported with a grant from Natural England as part of its Access to Nature programme, funded from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme and is being developed through a partnership between organisations that manage countryside sites across the region.




5 down, 45 to go!

Plym Valley Rangers, volunteers and visitors to Plymbridge woods all combined today to help with the National Trust 2013 launch of  ’50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4. A wet  start to the day could not dampen spirits and before long a number of children were walking off with a copy of the ‘Adventure Scrapbook’ under their arm.  

Between us all, we managed to ‘Roll down a really big hill’, ‘Skim a stone’, ‘Play Pooh sticks’, ‘Hunt for bugs’ (including an impressive Oil Beetle), and ‘Go bird watching’ at the Plym Peregrine Watch. Five down,  45 to go! 

Young Birdwatchers


Micro ornithologists


A group of budding young ornithologists came on a guided walk around Plymbridge Woods yesterday. We focused on bird survey techniques and species identification, and finished with a look at our spectacular pair of resident peregrine falcons. We had fantastic views of both peregrines, who are looking particularly nesty. We saw some other great birds including a great spotted woodpecker, mandarin ducks and dippers. The kids’ bird i.d. skills were very good and I’m sure there were a few future Audubons and Humbles among them. Well done folks. If you’re children are interested in joining the young birdwatchers, we will be doing more activities on the 8th and 28th of August and the 29th of September. Please call the office for more details (01752 341 377).

Dry-Stone Walling with Plym Valley Conservation Volunteers

This Sunday Pete Davies led a small team of volunteers in Plym Bridge Woods, reinstating some of the local archaeology. The wall which follows the Plymouth to Dartmoor tramway along the Western edge of the woods has slowly fallen foul of time and misuse, causing the majority of it to fall away degrading the aesthetic value and leaving loose shale on the path. Under instruction from Pete; Jim, Steve, Tony and the two Joes removed any loose shale and unstable rocks from the top of the wall and meticulously replaced them, reinforcing the base where necessary. The centre was filled in with the loose shale and soil which had slowly built up alongside the wall. Aside from the biting wind the weather was pleasant and didn’t hinder the team, allowing them to make serious headway into improving the site.

The work undertaken on Sunday was the first of many steps; the wall runs for miles and will be a long term project. The important thing is that the first Plym Valley Conservation Volunteers meet was a success. For the first day it was a respectable turn out and everybody enjoyed themselves which bodes well for the future.

The next meet will be on Sunday 12th May 2013 and will involve post and rail fencing in Plymbridge Woods. The group will be meeting at 10am in Plymbridge carpark; if you’re interested in helping out this would be greatly appreciated.


Is this what they mean by “Multi-use Trail”?

Well, not really, but this is what a trail suitable for families, wheelchairs,dog walkers, cyclists, and pushchairs has to look like when its being built.

Don’t worry though, once the construction crew have left and nature takes over, the new recycled road planing surface will weather in and it will look just like an inviting meander through the woodland.

The trail should be completed soon after Easter, but in the meantime you can still have a great visit to National Trust Parke, seeing the apple orchard, walled garden, historic parkland, bluebell woodland, riverside walk, Dartmoor Pony Centre, ending with a tasy snack of light lunch at Home Farm Cafe.

New cycle trail at Bovey Tracey

The long awaited cycle trail through National Trust ‘s Parke estate on the edge of Bovey Tracey is moving forwards.  Just before Christmas work started on the route through Mill Marsh Park from the centre of Bovey towards the Moretonhampstead road.  The crossing of the busy highway was achieved by lowering the path that runs along the River Bovey beneath the road.

There have been alterations to the unofficial layby that had been created over the years, thus providing a new surfaced parking area with a footpath leading to the pedestrian gate into Parke for walkers and cyclists.

Work will be starting in 4 weeks on the old railway track that runs up towards the Wilford Bridge end of Parke, through the woodland to give a good surface for a multi use path, being ideal for wheelchairs, pushchairs walkers and cyclists.  There will be a few areas that will be fenced to improve safety and a very limited number of small trees that have grown up into the trackbed will be removed.  Also specific lengths of the track will be drained carefully to avoid the present build-up of mud and leaves.

Once completed this track will not only become another link in the longer Moretonhampstead to Teignmouth path, but also be another piece in the jigsaw of improved access routes for the visitor around Parke.

Castle Drogo’s late summer garden spectacle.

Helenium's add vibrant colours to the late summer display


The last few magical days of  late summer sunshine have coincided with the garden at Castle Drogo reaching a seasonal  peak.  The  herbaceous borders are delivering their grand finale  before the onset of autumn with a beautiful display of bright yellow, orange, blue and lilac.

To capture the full experience an early morning or late afternoon visit will definitely be the most rewarding time with the added  bonus that you are likely to have the garden to yourself.

9.30am will be the best time for photography, with the dew lying like sparkling diamonds on the petals, leaves and closely cut lawns and the birds, bees and butterflies harvesting nectar and enjoying the early sunshine. From 5.00pm onwards the garden has a peaceful, restful atmosphere and the low light of the late afternoon sun creates real drama. The colours and contrasts of the flowers, lawns and pathways  are richer, the light and shade patches of the terraces and arbours accentuated. In the still air you can savour the romantic scent of roses and you will probably hear the rustle of  voles as they scurry through the borders and catch a glimpse of them as they disappear into their homes in the cavities in the granite walls.

Don’t miss out on this incredible gardening moment.  Be inspired by the drama of the seasons currently being played out on this amazing out door stage set; a sumptuous yet secret garden set in the wilds of Dartmoor.

At 9.30am I often have the garden all to myself!