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.





Christmas lights are being switched on all over the country, however here in the Teign valley we’re working on a slightly different set of lights…sunlight! Increasing the amount of sunlight that reaches the woodland floor is beneficial in many ways and for many species. Specifically this stretch of path running along the woodland edge is a real hot spot for wood ants due to it north facing aspect, however saplings along the fence line were beginning to shade the ants out. The last couple of days work should result in a healthy ant population for years to come.

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!





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.

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.





Leaves on the Line

Following the strong winds and heavy rain of last Sunday, Rangers and volunteers have spent the week clearing trees, removing hung-up branches and rebuilding paths in the Plym Valley.

A number of trees have been cleared from Plymbridge Woods including  two Sweet Chestnuts (pictured) which, for a short time, blocked the old Plymouth to Princetown Railway line.  Built in 1823, the line closed in 1916 and is now used as a footpath.

Noted for it durability and outdoor resistance, the Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) removed from this site will be ‘cleft’ and used to provide fencing materials.





The chickens of Tor Bridge High will sleep that bit easier tonight as they christen their new run.  Tor Bridge High took advantage of the National Trusts employee volunteering scheme which allows Trust staff up to 5 days each year to volunteer with other organisations. Stuart one of the NT Dartmoor Rangers went along to Estover to help build a deluxe run for the schools much loved flock. This is however is just the tip of the collaborative iceberg.

Part of the schools challenge week this June will involve an overnight wild camping on Trust land in the NT Dartmoor tepee. September then sees Tor Bridge High climbing experts run an adventure special on the Castle Drogo estate. I CAN HARDLY WAIT!

If you have a worthy cause that can be helped along with a handy man and hard work drop us a line below.



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.