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

Mike Smallcombe’s photographs in the Teign Valley

As part of Castle Drogo’s restoration project a new set of installations have been put up in the Teign Valley called Teign Spirits. The modern photographs give a sense of the history of the Valley along with an insight into the Drewe family. In total there are 10 photographs created by Mike Smallcombe a Devon artist who works in London. Here are four of the works.

Teign Valley 2
Just up the River Teign from Fingle Bridge is the charcoal maker hung high along the riverside path

Teign Valley 3
Detail illustrating the life and times of the charcoal maker – this used to be a major industry in the valley

Teign Valley 1
To the right of the path near Fingle Bridge is a photo depicting the aftermath of the fire at the nearby Fingle Mill – the miller’s wife and children have just escaped the fire. The ruins of the Mill can still be seen near to Fingle Bridge on the way to Fingle Woods

Teign Valley 5
By the salmon pool by the weir is a photograph of the Venetian chandelier purchased by the Drewes whilst on their honeymoon – it has been photographed in the formal gardens so as to ‘blend the inside and outside’.

Teign Valley 7
On an island near the weir is a photograph depicting Blackenstone Quarry where much of the stone for Drogo was quarried. The photo shows the daughter of a quarryman bringing him his lunch.

Teign Valley 6
Another installation near the turbine house shows Julius Drewe salmon fishing. This is not one of Mike’s pieces but has been produced as part of the restoration project. On a good clear day you can see this piece from the Castle

Teign Valley 4
The Iron Bridge over the salmon pool – a classic turning point on a Teign Valley walk.

There are 6 other Smallcombe photos on the Drogo Estate – for full details and a map visit the Drogo Visitor Centre. Well worth a visit – great photos and a great walk.

In the Teign Valley

I spent the day with the colleagues from around Devon yesterday and in the afternoon we had a visit down to Fingle Woods to talk about the woods, their management and our partnership with the Woodland Trust.

TV1The Devon team of General Manager at Fingle Woods – look at the nice new NT branded seat!

TV2There’s a WT logo on the other end too!

WDP2After my meeting I went round to Whiddon Deer Park as I had a few hours to kill before an evening meeting in Chagford. Cattle in the deer park

WDP1The trees in the Deer Park are always amazing – was lucky enough to see a beautiful male redstart – one of the classic species of Dartmoor


A male Redstart – unfortunately not my picture …. wrong camera ….
– from Wikemedia Commons  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Gartenrotschwanz_2.jpg

WDP3The hawthorn is still in full bloom


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.



Teign Valley in the sunshine

Spent lunchtime with the Woodland Trust in the Teign Valley making a short film about Fingle Woods.

Fingle Woods filming 1Your’s truely at Fingle Bridge (photo Dave Rickwood)

It was a glorious day and it is a great place for a walk – click here for details – here are a few pictures.

Teign Valley 1The view from Sharp Tor looking east

Teign Valley 2Looking west up to Castle Drogo

Teign Valley 3All the oaks are now fully in leaf

Sharp TorBack to Sharp Tor


Drogo’s roof and scaffolding

Castle Drogo opened to the public yesterday to preview the new interpretation inside the Castle “Nothing is normal – everything will be different” – I will post a blog about that tomorrow but I haven’t processed all my pictures yet! So today I will show you some pictures of the building works and views as seen from the Viewing Tower. Only a few weeks to go for the viewing tower in its current format  – it will be changed as the project progresses over the coming months.

Roof 3From the Tower looking down to the Teign Gorge towards Fingle Woods

Roof 2Up the drive – all those creamy coloured ‘blobs’ are bits of the Castle still to be reinstalled

Drogo pan small 1A panorama of the Castle inside its huge tent – double click on the photo to view the detail

Roof 5Much progress is being made – compare these photos to the ones in my November 2013 blog here

Roof 4So much scaffolding …

Roof 6‘When the day is done
Down to earth then sinks the sun’
Nick Drake

Gorse spider mites

One of the common sights on our heathlands this autumn has been gorse bushes enveloped in huge gossamer webs. There are lots on Piddledown Common and below Castle Drogo on the heath in the Teign Valley for example. These webs are made by  tiny animals known as  gorse spider mites – each mite is bright red and is less than 0.5mm in length but they live in large colonies.

Gorse spider mitesIt beggars belief that these tiny animals can make such huge and complex web

Gorse spider miteThe gorse spider mite has been taken to New Zealand where it is used a a biological control to get rid of gorse which has been introduced to those islands and has become an invasive weed in some places. In Devon and on Dartmoor despite the large number of spider mite webs I would say the gorse still has the upper hand ……