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

The River Meavy – where?

The River Meavy is perhaps one of Dartmoor’s lesser known rivers. Its source is close to Black Tor on Walkhampton Common south of Princetown. The river then flows south into Burrator Reservoir before emerging and  heading south through Meavy and on to join the River Plym at Shaugh Prior.

The following set of photographs show the Meavy as it weaves through the National Trust’s Dewerstone Woods. The full photo set can be seen here.

To visit Dewerstone Woods find Shaugh Bridge, north west of Shaugh Prior,  right at the bottom of the hill, where the road crosses the River Plym. There is a National Trust car park here where you can leave your car. Cross over the footbridge (just up from the road bridge) – keep left and you will walk up the Meavy – keep right and you will walk up the Plym and underneath the mighty Dewerstone Rocks.

River Meavy 3The Meavy joins the Plym at Shaugh Bridge

River Meavy 1Just up from Shaugh Prior Bridge

River Meavy 2Casualty from the winter storms

River Meavy 5Stream below the Dewerstone Cottage

Wood sorrelWood sorrel on a trunk

River Meavy 6By the Dewerstone campsite

River Meavy 7Primroses by the river


Devon team meets at Saltram House to hear new plans

Every couple of months the Devon and Tamar Valley Team of General Managers meet up with their Assistant Director to receive briefings and share best practice. Yesterday we all met at Saltram House in Plymouth.

There are lots of exciting changes happening now at Saltram so we were given a tour so we could see and discuss what is going on. I took a few photographs – some are below and the full photo set is here.


TeamHere’s the Team (longest caption ever…) From left to right me, Iain Beaumont (Cotehele), Dave Cooke (Finance Business Partner), Yvonne Gilbert (Senior Business Support), Lewis Paterson (Knightshayes), Gary Calland (English Riveriera), Heather Kay (Castle Drogo), Toby Fox (Assistant Director), Carol Murrin (Saltram), David Ford (South Devon), Jez McDermot (Buckland Abbey) and Phillip Smart (Killerton).

In essence Saltram House are facing two issues: firstly they are victims of their own success – over 700,000 visitors come to the Park and around 70,000 visitor the House. As a result visitor facilities are struggling are in need of improvement. Secondly the property has recently lost a very large annual grant from English Heritage and need to find new ways to generate income and therefore fund their future.

PlansThere is a big plan in the Courtyard explaining the changes – one of which is introducing a £2 car parking charge for non members

Welcome CentreThere is a brand new Welcome Centre – spacious, light and airy –  a big improvement on the previous stable block

TreeI really loved some of the interpretation in the Welcome Centre  like this tree and its story

HareI am very fond of hares – now sadly extinct on Dartmoor – despite their mythical links with the moor, witchcraft and Easter.

Chapel tea roomA new tearoom has been opening in the old Chapel – VERY nice

MirrorUpstairs there is a craft and art shop

BirdsIncluding Sean Hellman‘s wonderful wooden carved birds

OttersOtters may be hard to see in the wild but they make lovely pieces of art

I have only scratched the surface about the changes at Saltram – I suggest you go and see them for yourself – its a great day out and you can find our more here.


AJ joins the Dartmoor Team

We have just recruited Antony Bellamy (also known as AJ) as the Lead Ranger for South Dartmoor. Antony started on Monday and replaces Gus Fergusson who retired in February. Antony has recently worked as an ecological consultant and prior to that was Site Manager for the RSPB on the Exminster Marshes for 12 years. Welcome! I took Antony down to Miners Cottage yesterday to meet the team in the Plym Valley.

Antony Pete StephAntony Bellamy aka AJ (Leader Ranger South Dartmoor), Pete Davies (area Area Ranger Plym Valley)
and Steph Rodgers (Community Engagement Ranger- Plym Valley)

Whilst Antony was getting to know the team I had a wander around the land at Miner’s Cottage after finishing off a few emails. It was a lovely sony day –  I saw three male brimstones along with a female. Additional I also saw my first tree bumblebee of the year.

Miners CottageMiners Cottage in the Sunshine

Wood pile 1Almost ‘Andy Goldsworthyesque’ wood piles

Wood pile 2The log boiler calls




Plymbridge cycle trail – excellent

Been out yesterday with Rob Joules- our national Sports Development Manager part funded by Sports England. We were checking out opportunities in the Plym Valley where we could introduce more people to our places via sport. More to follow as we have just appointed a local Sports Development Officer to work at Saltram and in the Plym Valley to look at this. She will start in April.

On the way back we had a spin around our new off road mountain bike trail at Plym Bridge. Here are a few pictures. The going up bits are steep in parts! but the downhill bits are great. One of the jobs of our new Sports Development Officer will be to promote these trails to families as well as keen mountain bikers – they are really suitable for both.

PB cycles1On the way up – taking a breather!

PB cycles5On the way down – this is better

PB cycles3Rob Joules patiently waiting for me

PB cycles2Fantastic design through the woods

PB cycles4Directions to the trail from the main Plymbridge car park and of course – thanks 1SW for all your support

Plymbridge floods turn brown

I drove from Exeter down to Plymbridge this morning for a meeting. Possibly the worst journey in the hardest rain I’ve been through so far this year.

On the road down to Miner’s Cottage at Plymbridge I was met with this.

Plym flood1

A great stream of muddy water pouring out of the bank.

Further down  at the Miner’s Cottage turn the water was flowing well!

Plym Flood2

Plym Flood 3Whilst on one hand the sight is impressive on the other it is depressing.

Note how brown the water is – the rain has hit bare, unvegetated fields and washed straight off taking a goodly amount of the soil with it. Yes – without doubt this was a heavy deluge this morning but the flooding down this road would not have been so bad and so quick if the fields has been vegetated and not bare and open to immediate erosion.

This is a major area we all need to focus on in the coming months and years. We can’t stop these storms especially now that we have let the ‘climate change genie’ out of the bottle but the way we manage our catchments is within our control.

All agricultural land should have a Soil Protection Plan – it is a prerequisite for landowners to receive the Single Farm Payment. Leaving fields throughout the winter bare and devoid of cover in sensitive catchments which are prone to flooding doesn’t seem a good way to implement a Soil Protection Plan!


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!

Plymouth and Saltram

Spent yesterday in Plymouth, went to the Royal William Yard, the Hoe, Barbican, City Centre and Saltram. All my photos can be seen here.

William Yard-pan


It was a bit of a grey cold day but the Royal William Yard still looked impressive with its fantastic setting. It has the most impressive car parking payment system – ideal if you are touchpad savvy – a nightmare if you are not – judging by the queues most people aren’t!

Wheel 4


Plymouth’s Wheel on the Hoe has just got a further 12 months planning permission.

Funfare 3

The merry go round on the Plaza

The Dolphin

The Dolphin on the Barbican by Sutton Harbour

Weights 2

And finally to the National Trust’s Saltram House – really enjoyed the kitchen

Path 2

and the garden.

Snakes head 2

Snake’s head fritillaries in the spring ‘sunshine’

So so wet at Plymbridge

Spent the day at Plymbridge – so much rain and so much water.

My photos really don’t convey the situation! There are waterfalls in places I’ve never seen them before and streams in new places everywhere!


The leat is overtopping into the river


The Plym at Plymbridge  -roaring.

There is standing water everywhere – I cant see how @plymParkeRun will have a good day tomorrow!

Come on spring – make a play.

Plymouth City Centre

Spent the day at Plymouth City Council’s offices discussing a Heritage Lottery Bid for the Plym Valley – all about heritage, wildlife and access – if we can pull it off it will provide substantial funds which will really benefit the environment and the residents of Plymouth – bid will be submitted in May and updates will follow.

Spent 30 minutes at lunchtime clearing my head and recharging for the afternoon session wandering around Plymouth city centre snapping a few pictures.

Plymouth’s architecture is rather ‘marmite’ – you either love it or hate and I guess more people subscribe to the latter. But then again when you are the second most bombed city in Britain after London during the Second World War you have to react.

Abercrombie was commissioned to re-invent Plymouth and that he did. Kevin McCloud certainly champions the City – see here and the English Heritage book on the city does too.

Here are a few of my pictures from today – don’t dismiss the architecture without really looking at it and understanding the grand scheme.

PCC offices

Plymouth City Council Offices


House of Fraser

PCC offices 2

The Guildhall

Towards the Hoe

Towards the Hoe

Because of events in the middle of the 20th century Plymouth finds itself a modern city sandwiched between one of the most spectacular sea fronts in the world and one of the most amazing areas of upland which is drenched in history – as a result it is unique. I love Plymouth.