Mysteries of the Manor

Originally posted on Wicked and wild, it's a nature blog:

More strong winds this week meant there was more tidying up work to be done around the property. A huge tree uprooted and landed across in the path just down from Lyn Bridge. The root plate was massive so we enlisted the help of a digger to push it over the side, even then it was difficult to shift.



A job well done, all clear A job well done, all clear

Then it was on the Watersmeet to move a tree that had rolled onto the electric cable, we got it off using the winch.


The next day we went to Trentishoe to move a small tree off the road, it was manageable with a hand saw.


The team also had a more in depth test run of the Mountain Trike down to Heddon’s Mouth and back. It was great fun but the jury is still out on whether to get one of these or another…

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Watersmeet: February half term opening

Come and visit Watersmeet house and tea garden during February half term.

We are open from Saturday 14th February to Sunday 22nd February: 11am – 3pm. 

We are running a reduced menu of lovely hot home-made soup, cakes, gluten free offer and of course hot drinks.

Borrow a blanket and sit outside to listen to the sounds of the two rivers tumbling together and keep an eye out for our resident heron.

Please call to arrange for accessible parking. Free parking available at Combe Park, or pay and display car park directly above Watersmeet House on the A39.

Telephone 01598 753348

Executive Ranger Stu signing off

Sadly this will be my last blog as I am returning back to Arlington Court from my secondment at Woolacombe- I cannot believe where the time has gone- nigh on 2 years.
Having previously spent 10 years at Arlington court as a Ranger, the opportunity here was perfect to progress my skills and knowledge and little did I know that for 7 months of last year I acted up as the Ranger in charge. Not only have I had the privilege of working with such a great National Trust team on this property, but also the wider team in North Devon. I have also very much enjoyed working alongside the other stake holders that make up both the honeypot of Woolacombe and the wider outlying areas between Croyde and Ilfracombe.

I can remember my first week here, how comfortable it was (I thought) working some ware you are familiar with but actually you are not due to the tiny details that you learn over the years such as the names of the many secluded bays and beaches, the miles of quirky footpath routes to strim and also the change of the seasons on the land. Though I live locally, what I thought I knew of the area was nothing to what knowledge the Rangers such as Rob, Jonathan and Josh have-history, passion and feelings, knowledge-these things have been passed on to me, which I will take away and cherish for a very long time.

Picture is of me-well my feet enjoying the amazing wild swimming working holidays that are held on the property each year.
Though i am sad to leave, i am very much looking forward to the new challenges that are in stall for me when return to Arlington Court on Monday and the opportunities that that lie in wait!

Executive Ranger Stu signing off.

Rockham step repairs get sized up!

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Since the storms back in the winter of 2013, the access to Rockham beach, near Mortehoe, has been closed due to coastal erosion that attacked the soft under cliff which supported the current staircase to the beach. Since its closure, the feedback from locals, tourists and businesses alike was the vital need to reopen the access due to its unique tranquil quality that people from all walks of life enjoy.
The National Trust, working in partnership with Devon District Council, secured funding via a lottery grant, and though a sizable amount of money to reinstate the access, it is faced with a sizable challenge!
It has taken till now to start the process of rebuilding due to many factors, the biggest of which is the continued movement of the cliff caused by the battering of the sea, unstable natural geology and water runoff from the above fields.
After assigning a company in Exeter, NPS, who work closely with Devon county Council, a visit was made last week by a structural engineer and a geologist in order to come up with a solution . . . well, at least options! The visit was a real eye opener for them due to the sheer difficulty of the location, access, and instability; however they were very positive that a design could be drawn up and all being well, the installation completed by late spring/early summer.
This is a positive move to reinstate a vital route to a real gem in North Devon’s crown of secluded beaches that will be appreciated and used by many for years to come.

Stuart Ayres
Executive extreme step building ranger

What a gift: How one man helped to saved Lundy Island for the nation

We have been saddened to learn about the death of Sir Jack Hayward last week, who was instrumental in helping the National Trust to acquire Lundy Island in 1969.

©National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

©National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

Sir Jack Hayward was a businessman and the former owner of Wolves Football club, who in 1968 became aware of the plight of Lundy through the Neptune Coastal Campaign. It had been put up for sale and was in a state of steady decay and decline.

Sir Jack’s contribution covered the purchase price of buying the island, however the National Trust was not in the financial position to take on the cost of restoring the island. Thankfully the Landmark Trust saved the day with their willingness to undertake a lease of the island to take on the day to day and long term financial management, and we’ve worked alongside them since then, supporting the restoration of parts of the island, the archaeology, and nature conservation.

The Landmark Trust is a charity that takes on historic places which are in danger. They sensitively restore them and make them available for holidays, securing their financial future, and protecting the future of the building for generations to come.

Sir Jack Hayward’s amazing gift set in motion a chain of events which secured the future of Lundy Island so that anyone can visit, stay and enjoy this unique place, and we’re proud, some 45 years on, to be working closely with the Landmark Trust to do just that.

Rob Joules, General Manager for North Devon, said: “Sir Jack Hayward’s gift to the Neptune campaign in 1969 which enabled the National Trust to buy the magical Lundy Island was incredibly generous and allowed us to ensure that the public could continue to enjoy the island forever. Since 1969 tens of thousands of people have been over to the island and enjoyed it first hand; and many millions more have longingly gazed across at the island from the north Devon and south Wales coastlines. Sir Jack’s gift is a legacy that will live on for many future generations to enjoy this unique and very special place.”

So why is Lundy so special? These 10 facts are just a snapshot of what makes Lundy one of those places that you should visit at least once in your lifetime:

  1. Lundy has many designations: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation, It’s part of the Heritage Coast, and is a Marine Nature Reserve. In 1986 it was designated the UK’s first No Take Zone (NTZ) which means that it’s marine area is protected and no-one can fish, drill or mine there, allowing the sea life to thrive
  1. Lundy is probably the single most important site for archaeology in Devon and Cornwall, with 44 scheduled ancient monuments from the Bronze Age though to Victorian times including a unique Victorian granite quarry.
  1. Lundy’s cliffs are home to the largest seabird colony in southwest England with kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, puffins, manx shearwaters, fulmars and shags.
  1. There are many rare species of plant on Lundy including balm-leaved figwort, royal fern and the endemic Lundy cabbage with Britain’s only endemic beetle, the bronze Lundy cabbage flea beetle.
  1. Lundy is the only location where all 5 British species of shallow water cup coral are found.
  1. Lundy provides the only nesting site in England for Manx Shearwaters.
  1. Lundy was designated rat free in 2006 as a result of the Seabird Recovery Project and is now Europe’s largest rat free island.
  1. Over 100 people can sleep on the island in the 23 holiday houses which include a lighthouse, castle, villa, fisherman’s cottage, an Admiralty lookout and a converted Barn. There is also a campsite for 40.
  1. Lundy has its own stamps, issued twice a year, and is the world’s oldest private postal service.
  1. The island is 3 miles long and ½ mile wide and rises 400 feet (122m) above sea level.

For more information  or

Coppicing Day – Kinever Valley, Mortehoe

CoppicingCoppicing Day
Thursday 15th and Sunday 18th January 2015
10am – 1pm Kinever Valley Wood

Calling all allotment holders and gardeners. Come and cut your own bean poles and pea sticks for next season from an old hazel coppice located just off Bull Point Lighthouse Road. Full instruction and tools provided by National Trust Rangers.
Meet at the entrance to the Lighthouse Road, North Morte Road, Mortehoe at 10am.
Wear suitable clothes, boots and waterproofs.
Further info call 01271 870555

The perilous existence of endangered whitebeams


An interesting blog on whitebeams from our friend Tracey Hamston which mentions some of our own trees in the Watersmeet Valley

Originally posted on BES Forest Ecology Group:

By Tracey Hamston

The beautiful oak woodlands on the coastal fringes and steep valleys of Exmoor are home to several species of whitebeam (Sorbus spp.) that are found nowhere else in the world. Exmoor is one of a number of regions in the UK that are well-known for their diversity of endemic Sorbus species. In the recently published Vascular Plant Red List for England, Sorbus as a genus makes up 6% of threatened plants. This is largely due to their small population sizes, sometimes only a handful of trees on one or two sites, which make them particularly susceptible to extinction. The main threats to this group are competition from invasive species such as rhododendron and holm oak, particularly on the coastal sites. Sorbus is also particularly palatable making them attractive to browsing animals such as deer and wild goats.

Sorbus admonitor, known as Sorbus No Parking (for the sign nailed to a tree), is found only in Devon.Sorbus admonitor, known as Sorbus No…

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