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.




50 Things to do before your 11 3/4 with Friends and Families of Special Children

Setting up campClimbing hills and sliding down

Thursday 30th of May saw Friends and Families of special children come down to Plymbridge woods to notch some of the 50 things to do before your eleven and three quarters off their list. A small group of children armed with leaky wellington boots, Ham sandwiches and a lot of enthusiasm dived into all the activities we could throw at them, getting their bums dirty, splashing in the river and burning marshmallows all with a smile. The children left mucky and shattered from the days fun but this is what it’s all about, a fulfilling day for all.

Moth trapping in The Upper Plym

At Lower Cadworthy Farm in the Plym Valley, we are monitoring moth populations using a Skinner Trap.

The mercury vapour bulb is very bright, which attracts moths. The moths are able to move down the sloped transparent panels into the trap, but are unable to escape. It works almost like a one-way valve. The moths hide in the crevices in the egg boxes and are then extracted and identified in the morning, when they are less active. As the weather warms up, we are catching more moths and a greater variety of species.

Left to right: hebrew character, great prominent and brindled beauty

Any moths we find particularly interesting or captivating will be posted on this blog, so watch this space. You can build your own Skinner Trap with instructions downloadable online.


Treecreepers Play Hide and Seek at Lydford Gorge!

Whilst doing clearing the decaying stems of dead Laurel we noticed the antics of these birds whilst bringing food to their young. The nest was well concealed and protected behind a mature ivy stem. The ‘fast food’ came in the form of small spiders, flies and other insects. These are easily extracted by the Treecreepers fine long curved beak from deep within the folds and ripples of the bark of nearby trees. Another interesting characteristic which may be observed of these birds is how they fly to the base of trees and spiral climb upwards before flying to the next. Also please note their amazing camouflage when their back is turned to you!  The Gorge is simply alive with signs of Spring at the moment with many different bird species keenly feeding babies, wildflowers of various colours, and the trees leaves still with that lovely almost flourescent green which passes too quickly!

Please click on video link below….

Tree creepers at Lydford Gorge 2

Wild Tribe Success

Wet weather, strong winds and, at times, zero visability couldn’t stop the National Trust’s Wild Tribe teams from achieving Ten Tors success again this year. Both the 35 and 45 mile teams crossed the finish line early on sunday afternoon to cap over 8 months of preparation that began with the first training walk back in September 2012.

The Wild Tribe 35 team completed Route G at 13.14 following visits to Watern, Sittaford, White, Beardown, Great Mis, South Hessary, Black, Staple, Lynch and Chat Tors; while the Wild tribe 45 team completed Route S at 15.16 following visits to Watern, White, Beardown, South Hessary, Trowlesworthy, Hartor, Staple, Lynch, Sourton and Oke Tors.

In difficult conditions, both teams gave excellent performances that highlighted their commitment, determination and navigation skill. An impressive achievement that is a credit to themselves and I am proud of them all.


Air Cadets are a step closer to award at Lydford Gorge….!

On Saturday 18th May a small group of Air Cadets from 2443 (Okehampton) Squadron helped Rangers to build steps on the path to the White Lady Waterfall. The cadets aged from 14 – 17 (taking a break from their usual activities of flying, shooting and sports!), are working towards their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. Part of which requires the completion of community service.  Their time was spent carrying tools and materials to the site, then replacing old redundant steps with smart new ones which are easier to use.  The  ‘short and steep’ path’ allows direct access for anything up to 60,000 visitors per year! So the 220 ‘odd’ steps require regular maintenance. The cadets worked hard and built some of excellent steps for visitors to explore   the wild flowers and beauty of that part of the Gorge.

Steve saves the day

 On Friday at Lydford there was a small rockfall at Lydford Gorge. The river path was shut for a while while Steve the ranger literally swung into action abseiled down to the fall cleared away some loose soil and stone and checked the site was solid and safe.  The path was then reopened a great relief the day before a busy, sunny bank holiday weekend.

Lydford is a really wonderful natural site it is steep and rocky, trees cling onto the slopes, water is running and dripping and seeping everywhere. The upshot is the site is quite active trees fall over, soil slips and rocks fall. We have a very thorough system for making the place as safe as possible tens of thousands of pounds are spent every year with expert geologists and specialist rock face teams checking the rock faces and putting in netting in places where falling rocks could be dangerous. We have a weekly safety inspection to check at the paths, handrails, life buoys etc when the gorge is open.

Luckily most of the activity happens in the winter when we get the most wind and rain however occasionally something happens in the open season this is when speedy action by the ranger team can deal with the incident make sure everything is safe and let our visitors come back into the gorge to make sure everybody has an enjoyable visit and nobody is disappointed.


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! 

Ten Tors Wild Tribe – 35 style

Members of the National Trust’s ‘Wild Tribe’ 35 mile Ten Tors team relax after the first day of their final training session. The team who, along with the ‘Wild Tribe’ 45 team, train with Torquay Boys Grammar School and are supported by NT staff and Rangers, were preparing for the annual Ten Tors event that begins on the 11th May.

Starting at Two Bridges, at just after 7am, the team visited Beardown Tor, Lower White Tor, Sittaford Tor, Shilstone Tor and Sourton Tor before arriving at their overnight campsite at just after 6pm.

An early start the following morning enabled them to visit Chat Tor, Lynch Tor, Great Staple Tor and Great Mis Tor before arriving back at Two Bridges in the early afternoon.

Wild Tribe 35 mile team members, from left to right: Charlie, Tom, Alfie, Finley, Gullie and Callum.