Yes the cycling tour of Britain comes to Dartmoor this Thursday 15th September. You can make a day of it as the race passes by the door step of two properties, Castle Drogo and Parke at Bovey Tracey. Unfortunately my own sportive around Dartmoor (see previous blogs) has been cancelled.  This however gives me more time to prepare for my next challenge, The Drogo 10 (see website for details  The training starts here!

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.

Redstart and spotted flycatcher

A spotted flycatcher has been sighted feeding around the river Plym at Plymbridge Woods. Masters of the air, they hunt butterflies and other insects with an audible snap of the bill. Recently the numbers of spotted flycatchers has dropped dramatically, so they are now high on the Red List.

The redstart is breeding near Cadover Bridge at the Upper Plym. This bird is much easier to identify due to their bright orange-red tails. Like the spotted flycatcher, the redstart is a migratory bird, and spends the winter in northwest Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. (Photographs taken by Nigel Climpson)

Castle Drogo’s ‘Last chance saloon’ press coverage

Castle Drogo needs your help or its game over – we have just launched a public appeal to raise £1.5M as a contribution towards the £11M cost of saving Drogo forever.

Here is a selction of of the media coverage we have got today:

Westcountry ITV News
The Independent
The Daily Telegraph
Culture 24
Guardian Editorial

If you want to support the appeal go to here

You can also follow the Castle Drogo campaign on twitter at and on facebook at