Storm Angus, the Amber rain and Holnicote

Following Storm Angus last weekend a piece appeared in the Guardian which reported that the Natural Flood Management measures introduced by the National Trust on its Holnicote Estate on Exmoor had been effective at protecting over 100 houses downstream from flooding.

You can read that article here.

Nigel Hester, the Holnicote NFM Project Manager for the National Trust posted some pictures of Allerford during the storm


screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-09-38-42As Storm Angus was quickly followed by the Amber rain event I was keen to find out what happened after Angus

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-09-30-01The first peak is Angus and the second is the Amber rain event – I wanted to check with Nigel that the villages and homes had survived flood free both of the events. I asked him “looking at your picture of the Packhouse Inn – does that mean that eventually the river broke its bank and flooded the village?”

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-09-31-39This is his reply – no flooding.

This is very good news and a very impressive outcome considering there were two large flood events in succession. When the Amber rain arrived there was still a lot of water in the system from Angus.

This is a major story and one that should be of interest to local communities and politicians everywhere.

It appears to me that a well designed and correctly located natural flood management scheme can make a real difference on the ground. Now all that is needed is some modest funding and some political will.



A couple of wildlife highlights from Exmoor

When I was on Exmoor earlier in the week I encountered a couple of wildlife highlights

Frog spawn
Frog spawn in a created pool on the high moor – my first spot of the year – it may only be February but we are inexorably heading towards spring

Lobaria virens
This is the lichen Lobaria virens – it is one of the species of of lungworts found in Britain. It is a rare and special organism. Lungworts need very pure air in which to grow – they also need an Atlantic climate and flourish in shady, damp places in upland woodlands on the western side of Britain. I photographed this specimen in Horner Woods – a fantastic woodland near Porlock.

This is the distribution map of Lobaria virens produced by the British Lichen Society – see here for more details. The red dots represent records of the lichen since 2000, blue dots records from 1960-1999 and the yellow dots are pre 1960 records. As you can see if it very rare and declining but Exmoor and Dartmoor are important strongholds for it.

Fingle Woods goes to Exmoor

I went up to Exmoor yesterday to give a talk to the NT Ranger community in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Dorset and Wiltshire at their annual conference on our Fingle Woods partnership with the Woodland Trust. There was a great turnout – over 100 people. They seemed to like the Fingle Woods story along with the opportunities and lessons it offers to others.

In essence we need to think big for nature, we need to dream, we need new ways of doing things and we need to work in partnership. If we can do that we can make even more of a difference and build on the amazing work that is already going on.

Dunkery 5
Here is Phil Collins – the General Manager on Exmoor talking about the amazing Holnicote Estate

Dunkery 4And here is Alex Raeder who leads on the natural environment for the NT in the South West

Dunkery 1
On the way home I went up to Dunkery Beacon – a fantastic view down to Minehead and across to Wales

Dunkery 2
The National Trust owns over 5000ha on Exmoor centred around the Holnicote Estate

Dunkery 3
Good to see the heather and gorse still in flower

Thanks for inviting me and I hope some of it was useful!





High Moor – Exmoor

Spent Saturday up on the high moor on Exmoor looking at some of the National Trust’s land there. We own a lot of Exmoor – over 11,000 acres – here are a few pictures.

High 1Dunkery Beacon – the highest point

High 2
There is a panoramic sign there – good to see Dartmoor mentioned – one a clear day you can see Yes Tor and Cawsand Beacon (now called Cosdon Hill)

High 3
Rushes, heather and grasses

High 4
A single hawthorn with the sun breaking through the mist on Winsford Hill

High 5
An Exmoor pony in the mist

High 6
Dew on the grass