Join us for an early morning beach clean.

There really is no better way to start the day than by getting some fresh air and exercise in a beautiful setting whilst doing something to make the world a prettier place so that’s why we are organising a regular quick beach clean every Saturday morning until the end of August. Come and join our friendly beach rangers Gudrun and Paul at 9am by Mill Rock on Woolacombe Beach for an hours satisfying work beside the sea. We will provide all equipment, all you need to do is bring yourself, your family, your dog and a smile and help us do something good for the places we love. Call them on 07557 938399 for any more info…..WP_20150408_14_51_53_Pro

Notes to the imagination

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Our Family Coastal Trail around Baggy Point was a fantastic success over May half term, with over  200 families exploring this special place and learning a few interesting facts along the way. With a busy season on the cards I was a bit slow at fetching the doors back in… (my bad!) after the initial week long event, but that’s when people really started using their imaginations! The small oak and ash wood doors tucked away under bushes, walls and banks on Baggy Point, inspired letter writing addressed to Hobbits, Fairies, and Wonderful Mystical Creatures, all giving accounts of beautiful views, places , memories and anniversaries. I was blown away by peoples imaginations and excited to see how this special places can inspire and benefit people in so many different ways. I’ve always heard stories of mystical goings on around Baggy Point but now I’m starting to believe them…

A Wild Family Adventure At Peppercombe Bothy

Runners, writers and family adventurers Jen & Sim Benson are currently spending a year under canvas with their two young children, exploring Britain’s wild and beautiful places. They recently took a couple of nights out of their bell tent to stay in Peppercombe Bothy near Hartland Point on the North Devon coast. Here’s how they got on…

We made the decision to embark on our Wild Year when our second child was born in the spring of 2014. I was spending my days at home, juggling freelance work with caring for two small children while Sim was away at work all day, missing us as much as we missed him. So last autumn we sold most of our possessions, moved out of our rented house and set off into the unknown with a bell tent, a wood burner and everything else we could think of that a family of four might need to camp for a year packed into the back of our pickup truck. Since then we’ve spent most of our time in a tent, although now it’s warmer we’ve downsized to a smaller version and stored the wood burner with family until we need it again. We’ve had so many amazing adventures together; it’s such a luxury and a delight to really have the time to explore this fantastic country from living within it, immersed in the natural world.

From time to time over the past 8 months we’ve swapped our bell tent for other places to sleep: wild camping in our tiny backpacking tent; a barn borrowed from a local farmer; a caravan for a night when our tent blew down in a storm and – for two nights at the beginning of July – the National Trust bothy at Peppercombe, a tiny but perfectly-formed former pigsty hidden on a wooded hillside high above the sea on North Devon’s dramatic coastline.

Bothy front

A long, stony track bordered by dense hedges adorned with wild flowers leads from the private gate downhill to a secluded woodland valley. Here there are a few holiday cottages and a gateway where we parked the truck and continued on foot, exploring our way down another grassy track until we reached the bothy: a tiny white stone building with a stable door and a tin roof. It’s set in a pretty clearing with a gravel walkway around it and a picnic table, perfectly-placed for a relaxed evening meal. From pretty much everywhere there are glorious views out across the sea to Lundy Island.

Inside, the bothy is basic but clean and well cared-for. Pretty curtains hang in the windows and there’s a sink and a work surface – a luxury for us after so many months’ camping. For us, though, one of the best bits was the outdoor loo, perfectly positioned to catch the sun setting over the sea. Bothy life is much like camping without the need for a tent. There is no electricity or gas here – bring warm clothes and a lantern for the evenings. If the weather’s not great it’s a wonderful place to read, paint or write. If you’re bringing a family pack something for them to do too.


Our daughter loved sitting out in the garden with her paints – seemingly she too was inspired by the surroundings. We had wondered how well the bothy would work with two small children, and we certainly had to be on alert as the floor is stone, there are steps down into the grass area and lots of plants about that wouldn’t be good for a toddler to eat, but actually it worked really well. There’s a great network of footpaths around that would be fine for a good off-road buggy too.

Peppercombe Beach

The first evening, keen to get to know the area, we popped our 1-year-old into his carrier and headed out for a walk, following a path that meandered its way down through the woods to a deserted pebble beach that stretched its way beneath Devon-red cliffs into the distance. After an hour or so of jumping waves, skimming stones and building towers we made our way back up to our little bothy. It really does feel like a perfect family hideaway – secluded and quiet but still with neighbours not too far away.

View from the Loo

There are two movable sleeping platforms that we pushed together to create one huge bed that was big enough for us all, without the risk of a small person rolling out in the night. We put our self-inflating mats on these and made our bed as normal. After watching a blazing, red-gold sunset light up the sky and the sea we snuggled down and drifted off to sleep to the sounds of owls hooting, a gentle breeze rustling the trees and waves breaking on a pebble shore.

Our days at the bothy were spent exploring the South West Coast Path that runs almost through the garden on its 630-mile journey from Poole in Dorset to Minehead in Somerset, soaking up the delicious tranquillity of the place, from the beach where we saw not a single other person to the peaceful sunlight-dappled woodland. There’s plenty for families to do further afield too: 5 miles along the coast to the east is Westward Ho! – a vast stretch of sandy beach that’s begging for sandcastles. To the west is cobbly Clovelly and breath-taking Hartland Point.

We’ll definitely be returning to Peppercombe Bothy, and also investigating the others the National Trust has dotted about the country.

You can keep up with Jen & Sim’s adventures through their blog:

A great time was had by all at the Big Beach Picnic

A big thank you to everyone who came along, joined in and supported the Big Beach Picnic at Woolacombe last weekend. The sun shone, sandcastles were built, boards were surfed on and there was a certain amount of “Toasting the Coast”. Ben Barnes was there taking pictures for us and he has captured the spirit of the day brilliantly.

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GoldCoast OceanFest 2015

Great weather and a great turn out at this year’s 3 day festival held in Croyde. We had our marquee celebrating our coastal festival, marking 50 years of our Neptune campaign. We were busy getting mucky with our bare foot trail, learning about rock pool creatures, badge making and asking the public to take selfies using our selfie frame.

Check out your selfie photo’s on our Facebook page:

 Alongside us was Matt from H2Outdoors, talking about wild and adventurous activities.

Check out the photos below.

Luke Johns


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Devon Rangers in Exmoor

Originally posted on A Dartmoor blog:

I’ve just got back from a couple of days in West Exmoor with the National Trust Devon Rangers. It was their annual get together to discuss all things rangery.

Exmoor1Rangers in red – just to the east of Heddon Mouth

Exmoor2Stunning landscape around to Woody Bay

Exmoor3Looking west towards Baggy Point

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Why are we celebrating butterflies this month in Heddon Valley?

June is butterfly month, or so you are reliably informed by the colourful bunting decorating the Heddon Valley National Trust shop. Children are tucking into their ice creams, completed trail maps in hand, while others are enjoying butterfly arts and crafts activities put on by the Rangers. It seems the valley has gone butterfly mad. More on our June events.

photo 1 photo 2

The Heddon Butterfly Trail: Follow the caterpillars to find the butterflies.

So what is the fuss all about? Well Heddon is home to one of the UK’s rarest butterflies, the High Brown Fritillary. It’s one of only three sites in the UK where the High Brown still breeds and a lot of the work of the National Trust Rangers is focused on improving the habitat for this species.

High brown fritillary butterfly (Argynnis adippe) on a fern, Cumbria, UK

We had some good news earlier in the season as 2014’s High Brown survey results were published. The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (BMS) released survey results from 2014, showing that the one of nation’s rarest butterflies, the High Brown Fritillary, increased by 180% compared to 2013.

The High Brown Fritillary is critically endangered due to the loss of its woodland habitats. Heddon Valley is one of its few remaining strongholds thanks to the work of the National Trust and its partners. Successful conservation management combined with a warm, damp spring last year to create perfect conditions for rapid growth of the High Brown Fritillary population.

West Exmoor Lead Ranger Julian Gurney said; “After many years of extensive habitat management, surveying and partnership working with Butterfly Conservation, Natural England and Exmoor National Park, it is fantastic to see numbers increase so dramatically. Let’s hope this summer’s survey results are equally encouraging.” Read more here

The work and effort put into conservation won’t often yield results quickly or dramatically so it’s safe to say that all the National Trust team at Heddon are delighted with this morning’s news.

We will be celebrating the success of Heddon Valley this June with a month dedicated to our butterflies. A family friendly butterfly trail is running June 6th and run to June 28th, with arts and craft activities and butterfly painting. On June 23rd Jenny Plackett, a local butterfly expert, will lead a guided walk to find the High Brown Fritillary. Alternatively if you’d like to get stuck in and help build upon this success story you can join our Working Holiday on June 14th to 21st. Join us and leading butterfly experts managing and enhancing this very important habitat through vegetation control to benefit the High Brown and other fritillaries. Find out more.