Dewerstone Cottage – open for business

I went down to the Dewerstone Cottage yesterday and met  Spirit of Adventure who have spent a few months completely refurbishing and redesigning the place. It is now open for business as a residential outdoor activity centre.

Dewerstone4Mike and John from Spirit of Adventure who have taken a long term lease on the building from the National Trust

Dewerstone1A lovely log burner will keep everyone warm

Dewerstone2Amazing view from the living room

Dewerstone3Amazing view from one of the bedrooms

If you are interested in booking the Dewerstone Cottage or attending a course click here.

Outdoors and nature at Hardwick Hall

Just been away for three days in Derbyshire at our national Outdoors and Nature Conference (thus no recent posts). 180 of us got together to discuss how we are all getting on making sure that the National Trust is as well known for its outdoor work and places as it is for our historic buildings. More pictures here in the full photo set. I also had a good look around Hardwick Hall and we got on the roof for some great views – full photo set here.


When we arrived on Wednesday afternoon it looked like rain – it didn’t rain and we had hot sunny weather for the rest of the week – ideal when most of us were camping on site!


Great place to meet old friends from around the Trust.


The view from the Hall


A time to relax


And a time to listen – Simon Pryor our Director of the Natural Environment

Okement Hill and Steeperton Tor in the sunshine

If we had believed the weather forecast we would have seen rain, sleet and snow! Instead we saw sunshine all day. 10 Tors training today started at the Dartmoor Inn near Lydford – we sent our teams off east towards Great Kneeset and then on to Watern Tor and Cosdon Hill before they returned back west ending up at Meldon Reservoir or Prewley Moor depending on which route they were on.

Tony, myself and Paul were check pointing today; we have been to Ockerton Court near Okement Hill – a place I have never been before where there is a natural pool – perhaps the largest on Dartmoor.

Ockerton Court pool_


Ockerton Court Pool

From there we headed to Steeperton Tor which gave us a commanding view of the landscape where theoretically we could watch our various teams cross the moor.

Steeperton Tor

Steeperton Tor from Ockerton Court

Down the Taw Valley

From Steeperton Tor there is a great view north down the Taw Valley with Belstone Tor in the distance on the left & Cosdon Hill on the right

Taw Marsh

Taw Marsh below Steeperton Tor


Tony – on the phone checking how all the teams are doing

End of the day

The end of the day for some of us – back at Meldon carpark

Dartmoor Team wins Regional Award

I attended our Regional Spring Conference yesterday on behalf of the Dartmoor portfolio. It was a chance to meet the Trust’s Director General, Helen Ghost and our Regional Director, Mark Harold to celebrate last year and look forward to the coming season.

It was a great day – huge optimism for the future and an acknowledgement of the pressures many have been under as a result of the storms. Right at the end of the day the Regional Director gave out 5 awards for things that had impressed him across the Region in 2013 and the Dartmoor Team won an award for its work in engaging with young people! A lovely surprise and completely unexpected! So a huge well done and thank you to the teams across Dartmoor: at Plymbridge, Wild Tribe in the Teign Valley, at Parke, Forest Schools at Lydford and our 10 Tors Wild Tribe Team. Mark was impressed by our approach to implementing the 50 Things project and our delivery of Project Wild Thing.

Mark and AAdrian Colston, General Manager for Dartmoor receives the award from Regional Director Mark Harold


Our Director General Helen Ghost talking about the ‘relevance’ of our Fingle Woods partnership with the Woodland Trust.

A great way to kick off the new National Trust season in the South West – we are all ready and #openforbusiness

1SW / Plymbridge celebration

Yesterday we attended the 1SW Cycling Initiative celebrations at Haldon Forest. We were there because our cycle trails at Plymbridge was one of the projects involved in the initiative. The 1SW initiative has been headed up by the Forestry Commission and is a partnership projeect which includes the National Trust, South West Lakes Trust, Bristol City Council, Dartmoor & Exmoor National Park Authorities and 12 AONBs.

We are really proud to have completed the Plymbridge trails and are delighted so many people are using and enjoying them. Thank you to everyone both Regionally and locally who have supported us through some quite emotional times! To cap it all there was even a really nice letter in yesterday’s Plymouth Herald!

The Team

The Plymbridge Cycle Trails Team from left to right. Paul Hawkins 1SW Project Manager, Gus Fergusson NT,
Angela Proctor 1SW and NT, Alex Raeder NT, Jim Pascoe NT and Adrian Colston NT.

Here are a few quotes from the 1SW Press Release celebrating the end of the project.

Overall the 1SW Project has delivered over 100 km of adventurous cycle routes across the Region. Many thanks also to our funders particularly the Rural Development Programme for England. The trails developed deliver health and wellbeing, economic growth and a positive focus for south west residents and visitors alike. The cycle trails are deliberately aimed mainly at inexperienced off-road cyclists rather than experienced mountain bikers to encourage new people to get out and get active. We know a wide range of people enjoy the trails, from families to pensioners, thrill seekers to peace lovers.

JimJim Pascoe from the National Trust talking about the NT’s committment to off road cycling at the event

Bike 1To kick off the event we were all treated to some top level cycling. Andrei Burton on the microphone and Joe Seddon on the bike.

Andrei Burton is one of the most established and successful professional mountain bike athletes in the UK. He has been riding trials since the age of 13 and has been competing for the last 10 years. He has been the highest placed UK rider in the UCI World rankings for several years in a row and in the top 10 in the world for the past 6 years. He has also won UK Elite championship competitions and been on the European and World podiums in BIU Competitions.

Joe Seddon. Previous British Elite Champion and international competitor, Joe is a top level rider with the results to prove it. Joe started riding 20″ trials bikes back in 2002 and quickly became a well-known UK rider. He has applied his skills to a range of bikes but now mainly rides 26″ trials bikes. Joe loves having a crowd behind him pushing him to go bigger, better and further!

Christmas training and BBQ

It is a tradition with Torquay Boys Grammar School and National Trust Wild Tribe that the 10 Tors Training Walk before Christmas ends with a BBQ – this year was of course no different. But before everyone can eat they have to walk.

We started off from the car park behind the Dartmoor Inn at Lydford – and ended up at the car park below Great Staple Tor going via Lynch Tor, Fice’s Well and Little Mis. Here are a few photos from the day.

Wallabrook - Lydford

Waterfall on the (other) Wallabrook near Lydford

Little Mis

Looking west from Little Mis

Millennium stone

The Touchstone near Princetown – I’ve never seen it before! Here is some detail about it.

The Well

Gathering for lunch at Fice’s Well. A place to removed spells from piskies or heal eye infections …..


Dartmoor Prison isn’t far away


Sun blazing through the clouds near Great Staple


Everyone’s back for the festive BBQ

Trail Running NT special – a Dartmoor addendum

The latest issue of Trail Running magazine has 31 National Trust trail running routes highlighting the brilliant nature of the Trust’s special places for running. Well done to @NTSport (Rob Joules) for sorting with the magazine.


There were several Devon routes in the magazine but none from Dartmoor so I thought I would add a few here for you which you can check out.

Parke – near Bovey Tracey – parkland, woodland, riverside and disused railway trails

Teign Valley – near Castle Drogo – run up and down the Gorge and along the river

Shaugh Prior – Dewerstone Woods – run up the Plym on the footpath to Cadover Bridge and back – spectacular

The Upper plym around Trowlesworthy – moorland running up to Hen Tor and then down to Shavercombe Valley and back along the Plym

Hembury Wood near Ashburton on the Dart. Plenty of footpaths throughout the wood – very up and down

Holne Wood, New Bridge on the Dart – great track up the Dart

Explore and enjoy!

10 Tors 2013 – a fuller story

Further to my three previous posts here is my fuller account (1) (2) (3) of this year’s 10 Tors Challenge.

Lets start with tent poles – the wind on Thursday trashed a significant number of poles to which we made running repairs for the weekend. Here are the damaged poles which some of our Rangers will repair in advance of next year’s event.



One of the very striking things about 10 Tors is the massive gathering of minibuses – here are a small selection of those present.

Minibus central



One of the tasks for Friday is something called scrutineering – this involves queuing for hours so that people can empty your rucksack and check that all your gear is up to scratch. Here are the Wild Tribe 35 mile team with team Manager Pete Davies (our Senior Ranger in the Plym Valley) finally emerging … it didn’t all go smoothly but it was finally sorted.

Back from scrutineering


Before we headed off for our evening meal at Betty Cottles we had some team photos. Here are Torquay Boys Grammar School’s 35 milers.

35 Marquee


Here are the TBGS first 45 mile team.


45 Marquee


At Betty Cottles just after the ‘thank you’ speeches I managed to snap the Stoodley Knole 35 mile team with their Managers Dave and Dennis.

Dennis and Dave


Sunrise Saturday morning over our camp (note tents still standing) – the first and practically the only time we saw the ‘sun’




Got a few snaps of teams as they prepared for to go to the start. Here are the Wild Tribe 45 milers.

WT 45 Breakfast


And here are the Wild Tribe 35 milers

WT 35 Breakfast


From here we all head up to the start – 2400 young people waiting for the off – which signalled by a cannon being fired. By this point the weather had already disintegrated as the following photograph illustrates. You can’t actually see the 2400 participants but you can see the smoke from the cannon!

The start


And then they are all gone! Which leaves all the team managers with time on their hands. Here we are back at base camp chilling and talking nonsense.



It’s a good time also to try and take a few arty photos – a bit of sunshine would have helped but I did find a nice curvy road!



Fleetingly on Saturday afternoon some blue sky appeared.

Blue sky


Saturday evening involved a visit to the camp bar – no photos fortunately exist from this.

Sunday morning arrived and again the weather was foul. Between our merry band we had seven teams out on the moor and as a result I spent from 10am to 4pm on the moor in the pouring rain waiting for them to arrive and come in. Here is a ‘waiting’ shot. You can nearly see Yes Tor in the background.



Sustenance was provided by Kirsty who made some amazing cup cakes – very National Trust I thought!

Cup cakes


And then the teams started arriving – first in were a 45 mile team from Queen Elizabeth Hospital School in Bristol – well done guys- great effort.



TBGS 35 milers were third team in – brilliant.Then came TBGS 45 milers and then the Wild Tribe 35 milers, followed by the second TBGS 45 mile team and then the Wild Tribe 45 milers, then the TBGS 55 milers and finally the Stoodley Knole 35 milers who on saturday had been held up for hours attempting to cross the East Dart at Sany Hole Pass. All teams in and on one person had to drop out. 41 out 42 who had started got in – a 97% success rate compared to a 77% success rate overall – well done guys and girls -an awesome achievement.

Here are the second TBGS arriving at the finish

45-2 -finish 1


Cameron, member of this 45-mile team said, “Our first river crossing has to be one of the most memorable parts of our walk. We spoke to the Dartmoor Rescue Team stationed at this point and they informed us that no-one has crossed here yet, so we had to use everything we had been taught to ensure our crossing was safe. Our strongest men, Seb and Tristan, took firm placement standing in the water to aid us across to the centre island. A Rescue Team member went down river as a precaution. We did the same from the island to the other side, successfully defeating the river and gaining half an hour of the teams that were forced to divert. We were soaked and the water was cold but we kept marching on and soon warmed up again.” !!!!

Here are the Wild Tribe 35ers at the finish – complete with the NT ‘feather flag’ which in the wind and rain was particularly easy to handle!

35 -finish 1

After finishing teams get their medals – NB some smiley faces. This is Wild Tribe 45 milers.

45 medals


And here are the TBGS 55 milers (a couple of whom have been in earlier Wild Tribe teams).

55 medals

This year’s event was tough – the weather was awful  and conditions were really bad – particularly the river crossings. To get all our teams round is a credit to their fortitude, stamina and grit. They will never forget this weekend and I really hope they use it as a springboard for the rest of their lives.

Finally a photo (labels attached to boxes of chocolate) which for me makes the last 9 months all worthwhile!

Thank you

Two unattempted river crossings

Out on the moor today again with National Trust Wild Tribe and Torquay Boys Grammar School. Lots of snow still left on the high moor – must have been amazing a week ago!

Pete and I  were tasked with seeing the groups across the East Dart at Sandy Hole Pass and then across the Dart at Huccaby Steps.

Neither crossings were possible – whilst the river wasn’t in spate it certainly wasn’t crossable by 50+ young people so we diverted the groups north towards Kit Rock where the crossing was much safer.

Sandy Hole Pass 1


Sandy Hole Pass – looking north

Sandy Hole Pass 2

Sandy Hole Pass – south

Actually quite strange – I am not a great river crosser but I have previously had no problems with this one – today I couldn’t even work out where I had crossed before – I think it was the south picture.

Just after we left 3 adult appeared and did the crossing – leaping 5 feet across the river! Not one for the faint hearted and certainly not one for the faint hearted supervisor.

Some time later … Pete and I ended up further down the Dart at Huccaby Steps to see the 55 mile team across

Pete Huccaby

This picture is misleading – even the river crossing guru-hero Pete wasn’t prepared to give this one a go!

So back to Postbridge to co-ordinate the multi location minibus pickups. Couple nice wintery shots looking north.

Postbridge HDR Deep-small

Postbridge HDR Bright-small

Blacksmiths in action and fire the anvil!

St Clement’s Day (Patron Saint of Balcksmiths) was celebrated at Finch Foundry yesterday. The day involved a dozen or so blacksmiths competing against each other making ironwork.

It also includes the legendary firing the anvil!




Loud and exciting!

Dave Denford – local blacksmith and St Clem’s stalwort

Blacksmith working in the Foundry.

See more photos here and read more about it in the Dartmoor Magazine here.