The wonderful Barbican

I had a meeting yesterday at the Barbican in Plymouth. Here are a few photographs – it is a stunning place and well worth a visit if you are in the area. Much of the area survived the German bombings in World War 2 so is steeped in history and atmosphere.

Barbican 5Sutton Harbour

Barbican 1The Mayflower Steps

Barbican 2The ‘exact’ spot that the founding fathers left from in 1620 for America

Barbican 4Apparently the founding fathers stayed here the night before they left! It is still an active distillery today

Barbican 3The National Aquarium – complete with sculpture fish (or is it a prawn?)

Barbican 6The tide is out – the Citadel on the right, Mount Batten back left – the water directly in front is the Cattewater (where the River Plym meets the Sound. Plymouth Sound is in the middle of the picture before you reach the breakwater

Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust – 10 years on – happy birthday

The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust celebrated their 10th anniversary as a charity on Saturday evening and I went to their party. The main event was the naming of their new building after their founder Elizabeth Newbolt Young.

DPHT2Here is Elizabeth arriving on a trap drawn by two Dartmoor ponies

DPHT1Lovely smile

DPHT3Elizabeth unveils the plaque with Chair of the DPHT Judy Fawcett

DPHT5Dru Butterfield – DPHT’s Manager addresses the audience

The DPHT are tenants of the National Trust at Parke and we helped to facilitate their move from Brimpts Farm. We are very supportive of them and the work they do in fighting for the Dartmoor pony and using them in numerous conservation grazing projects around the country.

Dartmoor pony 2Here are some of their Dartmoor ponies on St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly which I photographed a couple of weeks ago.

Dartmoor pony 1Working for the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust – looking over to the Eastern Isles

I have written a number of blogs over the years on the conservation grazing efforts of the DHPT’s ponies – in Norfolk for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, at Fernworthy for the SW Lakes Trust, in the Teign Valley for us, on Woodbury Common for the Clinton Estate Estate and finally for us here at Parke.

The Dartmoor pony faces an uncertain future here on Dartmoor – it is an iconic symbol of the National Park and with the DHPT as one its champions I am hopeful for the future.

Happy birthday DHPT and here’s to the next 10 years.









A lazy Sunday afternoon

I’m having a lazy day! Just taken a few pictures of plants and insects in the lane where I live.

DandelionA dandelion’s year is almost over

Red campiionThis is a red campion even though it has pink flowers ….

HawksbeardThese are hawksbeard flowers

Common carder beeAnd this is a common carder bumblebee

There’s always something to see down my lane…

Slippen – the oldest gig of them all

Slippen is the oldest pilot gig, she was built in 1830 and was then known as Bernice – at that time she was a St Martin’s boat. In 1869 she was sold to St Agnes and became the Slippen. In 1907 Slippen went to the rescue of the Thomas W Lawson after she grounded off Annet – two of the 18 crew were rescued. The TW Lawson was the largest 7 masted, steel hulled trading schooner ever built and was from Massachusetts. After the disaster a historical society from Massachusetts part funded her restoration. Slippen is now a St Mary’s boat.

At the 2015 World Gig Rowing Championships a ladies team from Massachusetts were lent the Slippen in order to race in her – a nice historical connection – she had been especially refurbished for the occasion.

Slippen 1The re-rurbished Slippen on the beach in American colours

Slippen 3Looking over towards the old life boat slipway

Slippen 2She is in very good condition

Slippen 4 The brass plaque commemorating the TW Lawson disaster

Slippen 2014Here is Slippen in her 2014 colours being rowed by a crew from Appledore


Lydford’s grey wagtail chicks take to the wing

Yesterday lunchtime I had a quick walk down into Lydford Gorge. I was lucky to find a noisy family of grey wagtails –  in the last couple of days the chicks have left the nest and are now flying around the river but are still being fed by their parents. Here are a few photos

Grey wag 3Grey wagtail fledgling (the name given to a chick which has now learnt to fly)

Grey wag 4Lots of light grey and a hint of yellow around the tail

Grey wag 2Every 5-10 minutes the adults would come and feed the birds who were constantly calling

Grey wag 1I saw two fledglings – one on each side of the river


LydLydford Gorge and the Lyd – its like going up the Amazon!

CauldronThe Cauldron was quite lively yesterday

FrondA male fern frond unfolds

Bluebells are flowering at last on Dartmoor

Because the climate on Dartmoor is harsher than the surrounding lowlands bluebells take time to come into flower – sometimes they are a month later. Well at last the bluebells on Dartmoor are now in full flower. A real treat to enjoy. Most Dartmoor woods have bluebells but if you want specific places to go try the National Trust’s Lydford Gorge, Fingle Woods, Castle Drogo Estate, Whiddon Deer Park, Parke, Hembury, Holne, Shaugh Prior Woods and Plymbridge Woods! Plenty to choose from.

BluebellA bluebell in the Teign Valley


Bluebell2Bluebells in the sunshine

Greater stitchwortAlso flowering now – greater stitchwort

PignutJust coming into leaf – the distinctive pignut


A little later in the year those wonderful bluebell lawns will appear – see here for more details.


Teign Valley specialities

A number of rare and uncommon beasties are now out and about in the Teign Valley below Castle Drogo. The other day when I was there I saw the following species.

Pearl bordered fritillary 1This is the nationally rare and declining pearl bordered fritillary – populations on Dartmoor are bucking the national trend and are increasing

Small heathThis is a small heath butterfly – a fairly common species

Wall butterflyThis is a Wall Butterfly – nationally uncommon and declining

Kugellans gbThis is the very rare ground beetle – Kugellan’s Ground Beetle – every year I try and monitor how this major rarity is doing in the Teign Valley. I have written about this species before – see here.