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

Lydford Gorge Wild Tribe Meets for the First Time

On Wednesday 13th April children from the Lydford area met Rangers at Lydford Gorge for some exciting activities. The morning was spent in Cammo clothes playing ‘Robbers on the Run’ and in the afternoon the group made brushwood shelters. The next date for Lydford Wild Tribe has been set for Sunday 15th May at 10am-2pm when families will be using hand tools to make woodland sculptures from ‘green’ wood. Meeting at the main entrance of the gorge. To book please telephone 01822 822005 or email: adrian.shaw@nationaltrust.org.uk  Cost of the Wild Tribe day will be £4 per child and £2 per adult.

Easter & Birthday Celebrations at Plymbridge

Over a hundred children descended on Plymbridge Woods to take part in the National Trust’s annual Easter Egg Hunt. This year the trail was set along the old canal tow-path and the finish was at Carpenter’s Meadow. After the children completed the trail and collected their Cadbury’s chocolate egg, we had lots of activities for them to enjoy.

Easter Bonnet making (pictured) proved very popular; as did the Bumble-bee game, created by Plym Valley’s volunteers.

The event was combined with the Plym Valley Peregrine project’s 10th birthday celebrations. At the peregrine stall, children made bird-feeders using empty milk bottles and we had to bring in an additional bag of bottles to meet the high demand! Plym Valley’s bird expert, John Randall, led some free guided walks and the viaduct received over 500 visitors, all keen for a glimpse of a peregrine through one of the project’s telescopes.

The Herald took an interest in the event, their article can be read here.

Well done to all the volunteers and staff who made the day such a success!

New posts from the General Manager

I’ve had a couple of weeks annual leave but I have been out on Dartmoor  a lot. This weather is unprecedented and fantastic.

I’ve stayed ‘local’ for my holidays but have been out in the National Park  around a dozen times.

Read about the spooky lifestyle and life cycle of the nationally threatened oil beetle here.

Want a good walk up the River Plym? Try this.

The National Trust’s 10 Tors Team – Wild Tribe has been out training in fabuous weather and fantastic landscapes – read about it here.

Finally I have been trying to uncover a savage murder mystery on the moor – dozens of slain Emperor Moths found on the moor – who dunnit?

Wild Woods ‘n Willow at Castle Drogo


Castle Drogo on Dartmoor

Join Chagford based Wild Woods ‘n Willow for a day of family bushcraft on Sunday 1 May at Castle Drogo between 10am and 4pm.  (The last session starts at 3.30pm.)

Families can have a go at weaving fish shapes with willow and rush, create fire by making sparks with firesteels onto various tinders and cooking wild foods on an open fire.  Each activity costs £5 per child.  All children need an adult with them.  Ring 01647 433356 for more information.


Wild Woods ‘n Willow are a team of enironmental educators who aim to inspire awe, wonder and respect for nature in young people through practical, sensoryand playful acitivties outdoors.

Spring to Parke

We are all getting very excited here at Parke National Trust estate  nr. Bovey Tracey.  The apple trees in the orchard are beginning to bloom and the lambs have all been born.  Put  them both together and this is what you have – grass mowers getting ready for a Full Bloom Festival.

Yes, the Rangers and the sheep are preparing for the first ever celebration of the new apple blossom.

On Sunday 8 May, we will be inviting families to join us with their picnics for a day of fun in the orchard.

MED Theatre Group will be doing a workshop for people to join in entitled Trees for Life; Grimspound Morris will be performing their own unique dances; there will be games, activities and trails for the kids, making it a fun day out for all.  More details to follow or email us on



Oil Beetles at Plym Valley

Following on from the blog article by our collegues at Hembury Woods (dated 24th March), Plym Valley staff and volunteers have been keeping a close eye on the ground for oil beetles. Over the past few weeks, we have had numerous sightings and have discovered that Plymbridge Woods is home for the Black and Violet Oil Beetles (Meloe proscarabaeus and Meloe violaceus respectively).

The specimen pictured (M. violaceus) was discovered while Rangers were working near the Dewerstone on Dartmoor.

If you are interested in seeing an oil beetle, Colwill Meadow in Plymbridge Woods is an excellent spot to find them. The meadow can be found upstream from Plymbridge on the left side of the river. Don’t forget to report your sightings at www.buglife.org.uk

Castle Drogo is celebrating its 100th birthday


Castle Drogo - the last castle in England

Castle Drogo is celebrating its 100th birthday this weekend with a Country Fayre. Throughout the weekend there will be a display of vintage tractors along the drive, Punch and Judy shows, morris dancing, Dartmoor broom dancing (Sunday only), rural skills with the Dartmoor rangers, stone masonry display, traditional games to try your hand at such as quoits, pick-up sticks, table skittles and marbles, coconut shy and skittles.  There will also be a beer and cider stall and a hog roast.

At 2pm on Saturday the new orchard at Castle Drogo will be officially opened by Julius Drewe’s great-granddaughter. On Sunday at 2pm a specially carved piece of granite originally meant to be used in building Castle Drogo, from Blackenstone Quarry will be unveiled outside the Castle by Julius Drewes great great great grandchildren.

Everyone is welcome to come along and join in the festivities.


A day of two halves

10 Tors camp DartmoorFriday saw the 10 Tors teams heading to Exmoor for a training weekend. A local farmer let us wild camp in one of his fields near Kemacott. It was overcast and windy as we pitched our tents. The night that followed was pretty poor – it felt like I only slept for about 2 hours …. the wind rattling the canvas and the rain reverberating around the tent.

The teams were up at 5am and ready to leave a 6. Nobody looks their best so early in the morning after a night like that! But nevertheless spirits were high (ish).

Saturday was to see me and my colleagues check pointing (making sure the teams were in the right place at the right time during their practice expedition). This involved a complex series of trips to get cars and minibuses in the right place to do pick ups etc. Our first drop off was on the Holnicott Estate in Somerset – the weather was foul and misty – 10 hours in prospect – not uplifting …

WatersmeetHowever our first check point was at Watersmeet back in Devon – as we descended back to sea level the mist cleared and the sun came out and spent the rest of the day with us. All the teams came through Watersmeet on time – indeed we also met up with 3 Duke of Edinburgh teams – one from London and two from Tiverton.

From Watersmeet off to Lorna Doone Farm on the Devon / Somerset border – glorious weather and a vintage car rally to boot. Instead of crossing the river by the bridge all the 10 Tors teams decided to go through the ford – slightly deeper than they had thought!Walking through the ford

During the day we also saw our first swallows of the year – three in total – heralds of expectations of things to come.

Final check point was in Somerset near Alderman’s Barrow – included distant views of the Exmoor Stag Hunt – quite surreal – there were around 200 horses and riders out on the moor and it reminded me of a Western Movie with the Sioux coming over the ridgetop!

12 miles after the start the teams were getting tired and ready for the minibus home – everyone got round though.

Yet another training day of glorious weather – I am still trying to work out whether the teams have been lucky or unlucky! The driest March for decades and now April looks more like a normal typecast – what will May hold and will everyone be prepared?

Nearly home



Have you seen an Oil beetle?

Violet Oil beetle – Meloe violaceus.

violaceus Meloe

If you have seen one of these fascinating beetles then please help Buglife’s national survey of them.

At one time the UK used to have 9 species, but now there are only believed to be 4, the Black oil beetle (Meloe proscarabaeus), the Violet oil beetle (Meloe violaceus), the Short-necked oil beetle (Meloe brevicollis) and the Rugged oil beetle (Meloe rugusus).

These are fairly large beetles that can be up to 40mm long and can be seen anytime between April and August. The female lays hundreds of eggs in the soil close to a solitary bee nest. The eggs can take a year to hatch upon which the larvae climb plants, such as Lesser celandine, to wait for a visiting bee whereupon they hitch a ride back to the bee’s nest where they spend the rest of their development feeding upon bee eggs and pollen. Linked as they are to declining bee species this is one fear as to causes for the decline of all oil beetles.

Its vital this survey is undertaken as only 3 of the 4 species listed have been seen recently and these are all declining. The Short-necked oil beetle (seen below) was thought to have been extinct in Britain since 1948 till it was seen in 2007 at Wembury in South Devon, and that place on this very day is where the new survey is being launched. If you want to take part go to the following link to register. My thanks to John Walters for these fantastic photos.