Thursday, 30 September 2010
Monday, 27 September 2010
Devon Rural Skills will be providing demonstrations of rural crafts such as hay rake making and pole lathing. A marquee will house lots of children’s activities including longest peel competitions, pin the maggot on the apple, and other apple-related games. They can also help build insect houses which will aid pollination in the orchard.
Gus Fergusson, Head Ranger, says, ‘The Apple Day at Parke is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to celebrate the English apple. They will not only get to see the 150 apple trees at Parke, but also get to taste the delicious juice. There is also the opportunity to see local craftsman practising traditional rural skills. It is a fabulous day out for all the family.’
Tours can be made of the newly flourishing orchard with 150 apple trees of Devon varieties and also the delightful walled garden with newly planted espaliers, cordons and fan trained fruits. Also on show will be the Bovey Climate Action, Community Walled Garden, where local gardeners are enthusiastically growing fruit & vegetables for their families.
As part of the club's ‘Snail Hound’ rally of Dartmoor, 26 veteran cars are expected to have a refreshment ‘pit stop’ at the foundry between 10am and 11.30am.
The visit will give visitors a rare opportunity to see some wonderful historic motorcars, all of which were built between 1914 and1899. Some makers like Rover, Peugeot and Renault may be familiar as they are still producing modern cars, but others including Stellite, Calcott and Clement Bayard may not be so well known.
Many of these cars are the oldest still running on our roads and can normally only be seen on such occasions as the annual London too Brighton run. So even if you are not a Top Gear fan, don’t miss this unique occasion to see some delightful old motor cars from a bygone era.
Friday, 24 September 2010
Lovers of the British countryside have a reason to celebrate this autumn, as the nation’s favourite outdoor companion, Bovril, is donating £100,000 to the National Trust as part of the Great Outdoors Revival, helping to restore special outdoor areas across the country with a well deserved makeover.
A shortlist of 79 National Trust sites (3 on Dartmoor) in need of restoration have been drawn up listed on www.bovril.co.uk/revival, from across the nation and now the makers of the beefy-fuelled drink are inviting the public to choose where the money goes. With your help, a special National Trust place you love could receive a much needed boost from Bovril, who will announce the most popular sites at the beginning of next year. From pathways to parks, fields to forests and campsites to coastline, there are plenty of worthy sites that need your vote.
The 3 National Trust sites up for nomination on Dartmoor that need your vote are;
Improve facilities for walkers, wheelchair users, and cyclists along the riverside walk at Parke, nr Bovey Tracy, Devon. The riverside path is urgently due for upgrading, especially the path leading to a proposed small hydro scheme.
Creation of a Dartmoor Orchard at Castle Drogo at Drewsteignton. The main focus on this project is to attract local groups and to provide a stimulating and peaceful location to learn about all kinds of countryside and environmental practises such as orchard management, producing apple juice and cider, bee keeping, willow weaving and sculpture, cleft oak work, yurt building, door mouse nest box building, composting and many other skills that the local people in the Dartmoor area can share.
Create a disabled buggy route within the Castle Drogo Estate at Drewsteignton. The estate covers approx. 750 acres of spectacular Oak Woodland and Heathland on the northern edge of Dartmoor. The area is already well used by thousands of cyclists, walkers and horse riders every year. We aim to add disabled users to that portfolio by improving our path network around the castle and gardens, and out onto the countryside overlooking the spectacular Teign valley.
Click here to vote
Monday, 20 September 2010
Friday, 17 September 2010
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Sunday, 12 September 2010
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Small-leaved lime balanced precariously on the southern boundary of Hembury Woods SSSI/SAC.
Variously called 'Pry' or 'Linden Tree', most people are familiar with planted Common Lime (Tilia x vulgaris) on streets or village greens, but are unaware that its two parents- Small- leaved and Large- leaved Lime -are native trees of our woodlands. Of the two native limes, Pry is the commoner, though it exists now only in isolated clusters, chiefly in the South Hams region of Devon, the Mendips and Wye valley, north Essex, west Lincolnshire and the Lake District.
6,000 - 7,000 years ago in the warm 'Atlantic' period it was once the commonest tree in lowland England. Pry is a southerly species and below a mean summer temperature of about 20 degrees Celcius does not produce fertile fruit. Therefore, around 3000BC when our climate cooled, lime could no longer rely on seed to perpetuate itself.
Where it occurred it was now more or less isolated. As man now made inroads into the wildwood it survived only where soil conditions suited it or it was maintained by coppicing (where it looks magnificent as straight, steel grey poles, juxtaposed against the verdant green of its delicate heart shaped leaves).
By Anglo-Saxon times it was still a well known tree as attested to by the number of place names attributed to it. 'Linde' was Anglo-Saxon for lime, and many parish and wood names refer to its presence (past or current) where preceded by lynd- or lin-, as in Lyndhurst and Linwood in The New Forest or a wood in Essex called Lynderswood.
With the twin effects of its inability to set viable seed and of mans increased incursions into the wildwood, the number of lime woods reduced dramatically, but it retains its hold on its territories in the 'lime province' (the title given to its former geographical range) due to its remarkable tenacity and the ability of the tree to regenerate from coppice stools, broken roots, toppled trees and buried or layered branches. Being shade tolerant and itself casting a dense shade it is a vigorously persistent tree. It is, however, a very palatable tree, with its seedlings and coppice regrowth vulnerable to grazing and browsing animals, so that it is largely absent from woods with a history of grazing.
Throughout its present-day range it is therefore almost entirely confined to ancient woodland sites, having been planted if found outside of it, or existing as a 'ghost-boundary' of former woodland if found in a hedgerow. Where it persists it is therefore indicative of a moment in time that is long gone.
As Jonathan Spencer puts it in Indications of antiquity; Some observations on the nature of plants associated with ancient woodland (British Wildlife Vol 2, No 2 December 1990) ;
'Its present relict status is the culmination of a long and continuous decline over the last 6,000 years, and its past importance and present rarity have attracted the attention of many botanists and palynologists, notably that of C D Pigott of the Botanic Garden, Cambridge. Consequently, our understanding of the ecological history of Small-leaved lime is perhaps better than for any other woodland plant'.
Tilia cordata in Hembury Woods
Many people as they stroll through the oak dominated high forest of Hembury Woods are completely unaware of the many visual clues to the wood's past and, more importantly, the relict's of a long gone age that cling to the woods boundaries, a series of factors that leads an informed and observant visitor to deduce that they are possibly in woodland of ancient origin.
It has to be stressed that the dominance of oak in Hembury Woods (indeed throughout the majority of Western Woods) is not through nature but through mans intervention. Why? Because for the industries prevalent in Devon in the late 1700s and 1800s no species other than oak would do, and were cut out to promote even more oak. Western woods historically (as pollen records highlight) were formerly more mixed in their composition, but with oak wood needed as charcoal for smelting iron, as pit props in the mines, and the bark commanding high prices for the tanning industry, other trees if they survived Victorian forestry were relegated to the edges of the woods. This, therefore, is the place to look first for any insight into a woods history, as outlined in the blogs 'Finding Ancient Woodland' and 'Reading the Wood'.
Boundaries can tell us a lot about a wood, and leaving all else aside for awhile, this is where to look if you want to find Pry in Hembury Woods. There is no suggestion that these actual trees stretch back to the wildwood, but if we accept that Pry has not been able to set viable seed for a long time, and that where it persists is due to the doggedness of its ability to cling on, then where it occurs in ancient semi-natural woodland like Hembury Woods suggests an unbroken line back through history, the trees susceptible to the vagaries of time and the tender attentions of man, but with the definite suggestion being that lime has always been there, and therefore, that the site has been continuously wooded since at least 1600, the accepted date whereby woodland is classed as ancient.
Where it actually occurs further helps the woodland historian to strengthen their case as to the probable ancient origins of Hembury Woods. It occurs in three places. The largest grouping on the north-west boundary bank exhibits evidence of having been layered at some point in the past, and among it can be found the only Wych elm at Hembury. Then there are two on the north-east boundary bank, and several on the southern boundary, including the one pictured at the start of the blog. This particular tree is perched precariously over the Dart on the boundary bank with North Wood.
Now if we remember what we learnt in 'Finding Ancient Woodland' and 'Reading the Wood', it is to note how ancient woods often follow parish boundaries, and indeed, the north-east and north-west boundary trees are on the parish boundary separating West Buckfastleigh parish (containing Hembury) from the parish of Holne. In the picture below you will see one of the Pry on the north-east boundary with a boundary stone from the medieval period.
To further strengthen the case for the woodland historian to believe Hembury is of ancient origin we must remember that boundaries were often marked by trees different to the norm within the wood, and were often managed differently by pollarding or layering. The assumption then is that whilst Hembury was for much of the late-medieval to post-industrial period managed for oak underwood, the boundaries were marked by species other than oak.
To conclude, there is no text titled 'A History of Hembury Woods' (though i wish there was) there is only informed guesswork using historical knowledge of British woods generally, and any available documentation. The true purpose of this blog has been to highlight that a tree as rare as Pry is a clue (among many, all taken together) to allow the woodland historian to be able to say that Hembury Woods can be classed as being an ancient woodland site.
Its very rarity is what makes the presence of Small-leaved lime in a wood one of the most reliable 'indicators' of ancient woodland there is, especially if found alongside Wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis) and Midland or Woodland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). The historical importance and regional distribution of these tree species is living woodland history. It should not be messed with....but of course it is. So, to conclude, here is an afterword.DO NOT PLANT SMALL-LEAVED LIME OR WILD SERVICE TREE IN EXISTING WOODLAND.
I shall leave it to the experts to say why.'It is counterproductive to plant rare trees, whose value lies in their being rare and meaningful: every small-leaved lime or service planted arbitrarily into a hedge or wood diminishes the wonder and meaning of pry and service.'
Trees and woodland in the British landscape by Oliver Rackham (1976)
'.....widespread and unrecorded 're-introduction' of, say, lime and service would eventually destroy these species as sources of information about the long-term effects of people on the environment.'
Natural woodland by George Peterken (1996)
The whole point to all this is that as rare as Pry and Wild service are, their current status as ancient woodland relict's is what makes those that have survived, and the woods they grow in, so special.
As Oliver Rackham says in Woodlands (2006) on the tree-planting craze that gripped even the conservation organisations '...there was no thought that the natural distribution of lime and service might have meaning and be worth protecting'.
If you get the impression i am no fan of tree planting then you're damn tooting! Definitely a future blog.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Friday, 3 September 2010
Thursday, 2 September 2010
The Retail team laid on a fantastic array of items and plants for sale, and finished the day having taken just over £1000! The staff at Castle Drogo ran a number of activities for children, with a few aimed at gleaning information for our "Design for Life" project. These included building your own model castle out of Lego.
We also ran free cheek art for children throughout the day, and many children (and staff) went home with bees, flowers, butterflies etc painted upon their faces.