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  or call 01752 341377.

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!





Local author Tania Crosse to sign copies of her new book at Lydford Gorge

Local Dartmoor author, Tania Crosse will be signing copies of her new book at Lydford Gorge shop on Sunday 12 August between 11am-3pm. (entry to the shop is free)  Her new book is called ‘The wrong side of Happiness’ and is set in the late 1880’s in and around Tavistock on the western edge of Dartmoor, seven miles from Lydford Gorge. 


A West Country farm labourer, Emmanuel Ladycott, and his dairymaid daughter, Tresca, lose their jobs on the land, and head for Tavistock where Emmanuel hopes to join the hundreds of navvies working on the new railway line through the town. Lodging together in a tiny attic room, Tresca is determined to forge a new life among the overcrowding and poverty of Bannawell Street.  Emmanuel is dismissed from the railway, and Tresca doesn’t know whether to blame her father or his Irish foreman, Connor O’Mahoney. Torn apart by her conflicting emotions, events spiral out of control, leaving Tresca broken and on the brink of despair. Will she find the strength and courage to fight for her future, and when help steps in from an unexpected source, will it bring her salvation or further tragedy?



Gorge-ous Chutney

Lydford Gorge Chutney produced byDevon based Waterhouse Fayre has won silver in the prestigious 2012 Taste of the West awards.  The prestigious Taste of the West Awards is one of the most highly respected in the food and drink industry, established nineteen years ago. The awards highlight successful and high quality businesses across food and drink production, hospitality and food retail. 

Lydford Gorge Chutney

Gorge-ous Chutney


For a number of years the tearoom at Lydford Gorge has made its own no cook chutney to be served as an accompaniment with its pasties and sandwiches. The chutney has always been a hit with the visitors at Lydford Gorge with many visitors asking for the recipe and asking if they could buy a jar to take home.  In responding to visitor feedback and comments about the chutney the team at Lydford worked with local jam and chutney producer, Waterhouse Fayre, one of the National Trust suppliers, to use the basic recipe to produce a sellable version of the Chutney.  After much tasting by the Lydford team the final version of the Lydford Gorge chutney went into production.

 Sarah Hortop, National Trust retail manager says ‘since we started selling the Lydford Gorge chutney in the shop at Lydford Gorge it has been extremely popular with our visitors.  We still serve the chutney in our tearooms as an accompaniment.  Visitors love the fact they can buy a jar to take home.’

Visitors to Lydford Gorge can also enjoy Waterhouse Fayre’s strawberry jam also on sale in the shop with a cream tea at the tearoom.

Carry on Glamping


Last week the National Trust Dartmoor Rangers played host to pupils from local secondary school Torbridge High at Dewerstone Woods. Two groups spent a night under the stars (and the rain) in the NT Dartmoor Tepee. As part of Torbridge High challenge week the kids also scaled then abseiled the Dewerstone, made wildwood bows and arrows and braved a night walk! Character building was mandatory.

Classic Cars at Castle Drogo


Fathers sometimes get left out when it comes to being spoiled so here’s your chance to have a fun day out with your Dad and let him know how special he is. At Castle Drogo on Sunday 17 June the whole family can enjoy themselves and you can make sure you celebrate Father’s Day in style with our classic car event. Continue reading…

Castle Drogo’s wonderful garden

Now is my favourite time in the Gardens at Castle Drogo. They are awash with bright colourful azalea and rhododendron flowers.  If you have never been in the Garden before you don’t know what you are missing. The Gardens are also the highest (at 1000′) that the National Trust owns.


You can see my full set of Drogo’s Garden flowers here on my Flickr site and there are some different ones on my own blog here.





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.

Plym Peregrines: Out of the Quarry and onto the Web

Peregrine falcons in the National Trust’s Plymbridge Woods can now be seen live on the web. Peregrines nesting in Cann Quarry have been protected by a volunteer watch and the National Trust for the last eleven years following deliberate poisoning in the year 2000. Up to 20 thousand visitors every year peer through telescopes on a viewing platform set up by the Trust to get views of these magnificent birds and now many more will be able to view the peregrines from the comfort of their own homes.

There are several excellent webcams set up on the nests of urban living peregrines but few show views of birds nesting on a natural nest site as the National Trust’s does. A natural and rural environment comes with many challenges. As well as the complication of getting power and an internet connection to a camera far from mains electricity, there is also the issue of positioning a camera in just the right spot. The Plym peregrines have used several different ledges in the disused quarry over the years. Fortunately, this year the pair chose a nest ledge underneath the camera, allowing the best possible view. The peregrines also seemed to hold off beginning to lay their three eggs until the day after the camera went live on the web. This has resulted in their breeding cycle being slightly behind that of other peregrines in the country.


“The camera is a great addition to our on going efforts to protect the peregrines”, says ranger Beth Hamblin. “And we can’t wait to catch the first close up views of the chicks when the eggs hatch in late May.” She goes on to praise the work of the team behind the camera, in particular Dave Manford from Access Technology and volunteer Kevin Roberts and who have worked tirelessly to overcome the technical issues. Thanks is also due to the Wrigley Company Ltd for kindly agreeing to host a radio receiver and broadband line at their factory in Estover; thereby playing a pivotal role in getting the peregrine cam pictures out of the quarry and on to the web.

The live images from the National Trust’s camera can be viewed on

Improved access to the Dewerstone

Plym Valley Rangers and volunteers have been working on improvements to the footbridge over the River Plym at Shaugh Bridge. By re-hanging the access gate and removing the ‘step’ from the northern end, it is hoped that the access for all visitors to the Dewerstone will be improved.

The views from the top of the Dewerstone are well worth the 150ft climb from the car park.