Revisting Parke as spring emerges

It must be well over a year since I was last at Parke – I used to work there as the National Trust’s General Manager for Dartmoor. I met up for a quick chat with a few of my old colleagues – good to see them.

My main purpose was to meet with Kevin Bishop, the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Chief Executive and Ali Kohler, the DNPA’s Director of Conservation and  Communities to talk about my PhD and get some ideas and feedback from them. Very helpful.

Parke – looking across the parkland to Bovey Tracey

snowdropsThe snowdrops and cultivated daffodils are in full flower


Great to see one of the Moor Otter sculptures in the main reception – you will, I expect, hear a lot more about these when we get to the summer – see here for more details – there are going to be 100 of them (all different) dotted around the National Park later in the year

wild-daffodilOn the way home I drove down the Teign Valley and stopped to photograph the wild daffodils that are beginning to flower in profusion – those in full sunlight were flowering – those in shade will need a couple more weeks

hazel-catkinsAlso got to see the hazel catkins in full flower – I love it when they turn yellow



My last day with the National Trust on Dartmoor

Yesterday was my last day with the National Trust after 18 years as a Property Manager at Wicken Fen and General Manager on Dartmoor

This little converted barn has been my office along with several other members of the team

It has been very cosy with its log burner and Vespa the Vizsla

There was even a lovely double rainbow yesterday

And here is my computer screen showing my Outlook email account – no emails left in my inbox!

I will miss my friends and colleagues and I am sure we will keep in touch.

Love the National Trust too but its time for a change

About the mild autumn

Yesterday the National Trust’s specialist on nature and wildlife, Matthew Oates, wrote a piece about the mild autumn weather and the impact it has having on plants and animals. It is worth a read – you can see it here.

In ‘normal’ years spring flowers flower in the spring but on a quick walk around Parke yesterday I found wild strawberries flowering along with hogweed, dandelion, hawkbit, scarlet pimpernel, Herb Robert, prickly sow thistle and euphorbias.

The pansies outside Home Farm Cafe are still in full bloom

Leaf beetle
I even found this chrysomelid leaf beetle out and about. By mid November you would expect that the frosts would have killed the insects off or would have driven them into shelter to hibernate for the autumn and winter

The Avenue of beech trees is still full of colour too but as I write Storm Barney is imminent. It is still very mild though – I am in a short sleeved shirt and haven’t got the heating on, but after today and Barney’s winds I suspect most of the leaves will have been blown off the trees. The Met Office are also forecasting much colder weather at the weekend. We might be finally heading towards winter – we will see.



Smart new Welcome Signs at Fingle and Parke

The National Trust is introducing new Welcome Signs at all of its most visited outdoors sites. The idea of them is to welcome visitors to our places, orientate them, give them a little information about the site and give information on things that are going on. We have just received our first two signs for Parke and Fingle Bridge. More will follow soon!

The sign at Parke in the car park

At Fingle Bridge we also have these ‘boundary’ markers telling you that you have arrived

The sign at Fingle Bridge also introduces our partnership with the Woodland Trust at Fingle Woods

A severe outbreak of bodging

There has been a severe outbreak of bodging on Dartmoor over the past few weeks! Bodging is the traditional art of fashioning of unseasoned or green wood into practical items such as furniture or fencing hurdles.

Bodging 1
Here is George (one of our volunteers) at Parke proudly showing off the two hurdles he has just made

Bodging 3
Here are three hurdles that Fred (Parke’s Ranger) made protecting the scratter (the apple pulper)

Bodging 2
Here is a chair that Dylan (Ranger in the Teign Valley) made

Chagford 4
And here is Dylan on a ‘shaving horse’ making poles for his chair at this year’s Chagford Show

Good to see the old skills being maintained and practiced – I suspect we will see more of this type of thing in the future – gives our woodlands a better future