Ten Tors 2012 – By Aggie Fielding (45 mile Wild Tribe)

Dear reader,

You may be aware, I was on the 45 mile Wild Tribe team walking for the National Trust and I finished my Ten Tors journey at 12.20 on Sunday the 13th of May 2012 . As a proud “Wild Triber” I thought it would be great to share my wonderful adventures with the National Trust and Torquay Boys Grammar School! 🙂

My journey began on a winter morning on my very first training walk with the boys. I was welcomed onto the boys regime immediately and I quickly found out that it was nothing like training with the girls. The boys were full of banter and were up for anything. They started my first walk with a casual run to Nuns Cross and this was where I first met my team. It was dark and Ellie and I had no idea who we were with but the guys set up their tents practically on top of a leat all the same. The next day a massive realisation moment hit me; the boys were fast, like REALLY fast and every one of the boys trainers had an attitude that “tanking it” was normal; basically meaning that you had to walk at abnormal speeds. But they were all so brilliant and very apologetic; especially after Simon led us to the wrong Tor on our very first walk (sorry Simon)… And from then on in I think it was generally excepted that the girls would navigate. But I made it through my first ever training ahead of schedule, having completed an extra leg and I came home surprisingly intact and qualified for the Wild Tribe… Which was an amazing feeling.

From then on I got to know everyone better and better. It became excepted that at least once on our walks, Dave from my team would say “light jog guys?”, that Mr Jones would thank Ellie and I for taking care of his boys and that Tony would add an extra 3k to the end of the walk just for the fun of it.  We had some low points, but the high points made up for them, like singing nine rounds of “Nine German bombers…” in a very out of tune manner or finding out from Mr Colvile that we were being pulled off the moor by the military because they’d finally realised that waist high bog was not a good thing to be caught in. We all developed personality wise and I found myself leading my team across rivers (basically they watched as I crossed to reduce the chance of them getting wet). Despite this, training was always a massive success and each walk made me more proud to be part of such a brilliant team.

Finally, the event weekend arrived and my team and I all collected our hoodies (one of my Ten Tors highlights) and after queuing for hours to go to briefing, finally made it to the Betty Cockles pub to enjoy a massive plate of spaghetti and share a huge slice of chocolate cake (as Simon won a ÂŁ1 bet as Dave and Seb realised that it was impossible for them to eat an entire one each). Needless to say we all slept well until woken at around 5am by chatting from surrounding teams and “Chariots of fire” on full boom. The start was fantastic, especially with the army helicopter flyover and we walked reasonably fast to our first Tor, although we were slowed by a horrific bog (myself being the only one to be completely engulfed by the frightening sludge). We picked up the speed and intercepted the 55 boys at Tor 5 as they practically jogged past us, the absolute machines that they are. We made it to Tor 7 before eight and set up camp below Tor 8. In our sheltered spot we cooked our food and laughed at each others awful tan marks. We had an early start, and checked in to 8th just after 6 and we trooped on all the way to 10th, now sustaining a number of injuries and set out from tenth knowing that on our last leg we had to tackle Killer Valley. But we made it as a complete team and received our medals with massive smiles and a ginormous sense of achievement.

I have loved every part of Ten Tors and have learned so much from my time on the Wild Tribe. I have met some amazing people, particularly Tony who will continue to inspire me into the future with his ability to tackle anything and I have gained an important life lesson that “Pain is temporary, but pride lasts forever”. My fellow walkers have been so brilliant and their unique bog-crossing techniques never ceased to amuse me. But most importantly, my team have been phenomenal and because of them I have had the most fantastic time.

So thank you so much to Adrian and everyone at the National Trust for giving me this opportunity, thank you to everyone at the Boys School for making me part of the family and thank you to my team; Well Done guys

National Trust 45 mile team at the finish – I’m the one on the right

Can you guess what it is?

On entering the National Trust car park for the Dewerstone at Shaugh Bridge, you are confronted by a large stone building nestled in the hill side. For those you who aren’t aware of its past, this archaeological feature can turn your thoughts into an episode of “Time Team”, giving rise to questions like what, when and why? Further clues of its function, including a ceramic pipeline, a number of stone structures and spoil heaps, can be found along the south eastern side of the river Plym, between Cadover and Shaugh Bridge.

This network of infrastructure represents what was once a thriving China Clay Industry in south west Dartmoor, operating from around the 1870’s to the 1950’s. Starting further up the river Plym close to Cadover Bridge, china clay was extracted from pits at Shaugh Lake and Wigford down. The resulting clay suspension was then fed by pipeline down to a mica drag close to the village of Shaugh Prior. Here any sand particles were removed before the remaining clay slurry was piped down to settling tanks at Shaugh Bridge. The water was drained off and the china clay dried in the pan kiln, before being cut into blocks and transported up to Shaugh Bridge platform on the Tavistock to Plymouth railway line.


From the car park you can clearly see the loading bays at the front of the building, where blocks of clay were loaded onto carts. The pan kiln was situated on the level above these, with the large settling tanks located above the kiln. The steps on the right hand side of the building will lead you onto a footpath to Cadover Bridge, and offer you a chance to explore the upper levels of the china clay works.


Efforts to preserve such archaeological features are a regular occurrence in the Plym Valley Ranger’s annual calendar of work. Recently for example, a group of 26 student volunteers from the University of Plymouth, including members of the Student Union’s Musical Theatre Group and the Environmental Society, assisted with scrub clearance and vegetation removal from the mica drag near Shaugh Prior. A large pile of garden waste close by was also cleared thanks to their efforts.


Student volunteers clearing scrub in a highly efficient manner.

Student volunteers from the University of Plymouth inside the cleared mica drag.


Throughout the year we hold a number of archaeological guided walks in the Plym Valley, including some taking in the Shaugh Bridge China Clay Works. If you would like to know more please ring the Ranger team on 01752 341377.


To reach the site…


By Bike: Use National Cycle Network Route 27 from Plymouth. Leave the route at Shaugh Bridge platform on the right (SX 527 636). Follow the short stretch of road down to the small t-junction and turn left. Follow this road round to Shaugh Bridge. The NT car park is on the left immediately after the bridge over the River Plym.  Visit www.sustrans.org.uk or www.devon.gov.uk/cycling


By Bus: Target Travel Bus Route 59 stops right outside the NT car park at Shaugh Bridge. Buses run seven times a day, Monday to Saturday, between Plymouth, Plympton, Sparkwell, Bickleigh and Plymouth’s George P&R. Bus times available at www.transportdirect.info or http://targettravel.co.uk/59-plympton.html.


By Car: From the A38, exit at Manadon Junction and take the A386 towards Tavistock. At Bickleigh Cross (immediately after the Belliver Roundabout), turn right onto New Road (signposted Bickleigh, Shaugh Prior). Continue on this road through the village of Bickleigh and after passing the barracks, take the next left signposted Shaugh Prior, Wotter and Lee Moor. Follow this road for a couple of miles round to Shaugh Bridge. The NT car park is on the left immediately after the bridge over the River Plym.


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.

‘Save Castle Drogo’ Bunting goes on display

'Save Castle Drogo' Bunting
We would like to thank all the volunteers and local groups who worked so hard to make the bunting, shown above.  This is now on display in our Visitor Centre and will promote the ‘Save Castle Drogo’ appeal,  helping to raise the funds required to carry out urgently needed building works. For further information please contact Paula Clarke on 01647 434130

Lost in Translation

This year sees the NT host a number of cycling sportives across the country at various properties. Distances range from a few miles, to more testing 50-100 mile rides. Parke Estate at Bovey Tracey will  be this years penultimate challenge on the 2nd October.

I’ve been messing about on bikes since I was a kid and decided I was up for a challenge; that was until I had my first bonk! Yes bonking, clearly an american term spawned by those unschooled in the art of ‘carry on’ films. Bonking is what cyclists call hypoglycaemia which is the medical term for abnormally low levels of blood glucose.

Sniggering aside I would not wish it on anyone. I was out training with 10 miles to go when my body virtually shut down. I began to shake uncontrollably, sweat profusely and felt dizzy. But it was when I started having heart palpitations that I really began to worry. Easily the worst day I’ve had on a bike, ever.

It was all my own fault of course, next time I’ll follow the old mantra; eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty. Look out for my next installment on Friday.

For more details about taking part click on this link http://www.andycookcycling.com/andy-cook-sportives/national-trust-sportive-castle-drogo/

Exeter University rolls into Parke

Despite an unpromising weather forecast, a group of staff from University of Exeter, (Research & Knowledge Transfer), descended on National Trust, Parke at Bovey Tracey for a day of Employee Volunteering.

Their task was to lay the paths in the newly renovated walled garden and for this they were met and assisted by a team of National Trust and  Dartmoor National Park Authority rangers.

In preparation for the undertaking the Parke team had levelled the paths with the aid of a mini digger and lined them with a total of 400m of edging boards.  This wood all came from oak grown, felled and milled on the estate.

There were 33 volunteers and between them they managed to move 32 tons of stone and then rake it level; an astonishing average of over one ton per person!  Their abilities were doubtless helped by the mountains of cakes, sandwiches, teas and coffees that were consumed at regular intervals

At the end of the task, having taken the final victory picture the site was cleared and the group claimed they were off to the pub but it was more likely that what they really meant was they were going back to the office for a couple of hours work – such was their amazing capacity for hard work!

Many thanks to all involved – volunteers and staff alike.  It was a task that has improved the garden beyond belief and will enable visitors to enjoy this lovely garden to its fullest for many years to come.

Active Dartmoor

There is a great new Dartmoor magazine that has just been launched and  I can thoroughly recommend it to you – it called Active Dartmoor and it only costs £1.95. Its got newsy items along with features on walking, bouldering, rock climbing, bushcraft, cycling, walks, pubs, B&Bs, weather watching, navigation, geocaching and events.

Pleased to say the National Trust on Dartmoor is well represented with articles on Castle Drogo, Fingle Bridge walks, the Dewerstone Rocks and tons of our events.

Check it out – you wont be disappointed.

It is available in local shops .

Wild Tribe

Our latest Wild Tribe event took place on Sunday at its new site near Fingle Bridge. I felt that the site on Fingle meadow was good but in the busier summer months would be difficult with lots visitors about and would not be very ‘wild’.
The new site up in the woods is far more private and sheltered it is a short walk from the car park at Fingle Bridge and offers great views, a small stream to one side and bags of potential. Sounding a bit like an estate agent sorry.
But seriuosly it will enable us to build semi permanent structures, like the fire site and will give great scope to develop future activities. We will initially do some work to create flat areas for activities and then the Tribe can make it their own.
This week the weather was annoying cool and wet, not very wet but enough to make us dash to the shelter every now and then.
In spite of this we had a great day with den building, some excellent wood sculptures were made using a variety of tools and media (see below) two tribe members lit their own fires and baked their own potates in them. Sausages and baked potatoes were cooked over and open fire for lunch and marshmallows were toasted later. Se all had fun and everybody went home damp but ladend with things they had made.

Beware this crocodile is still lurking in the woods




Unfortunately there is not enough memory available on the blog to put all the work in.
If your familly would like to get involved in Wild Tribe with the next event being held on the 5th June contact Tom on 07812974512. We can offer something to famillies with children up to about 16