The November/ December edition of our newsletter is now out. It is available as an e-newsletter just sign up with us and we’ll send you regular monthly updates. Follow this link to our sign up page It’s great because it can summarise what is happening and provide links to more detail, video clips, reports and other peoples websites. For those who prefer a printable copy we are trialling a pdf version.2014_11_19 MTMTE News
Walk up on the moor today and you may only bump into the odd sheep, cow or pony but over 3,000 years ago the moor would have been heavily populated. There are an estimated 5,000 hut circles that have been found so far on Dartmoor. With so many hut circles to look after, stopping nature closing in on them and engulfing them is a major task. Fortunately for most of them we can look to our four legged friends to graze around them, trample the bracken and keep them open. However in some cases grazing stock is not enough and we need to step in and lend a hand and this is where Moor than meets the eye is hoping to help.
On Wednesday 5th November on a beautiful autumn day, we joined forces with Chagford Conservation Volunteers, Pete Rich- National Park Ranger and Andy Crabb- Archaeologist and Historic Environment Field Advisor for the National Park to clear bracken from 5 hut circles on Chagford Common. The hut circles were heavily overgrown and were difficult to see but with 20 of us to get stuck in we made good progress cutting bracken to reveal the substantial walls of the huts. Cutting at this time of year weakens the bracken and removes the thatch meaning that new shoots will come back less vigorously. We’ll need to make several more visits over the next year or two to repeat the process but it should get easier with every visit.
Working alongside Andy we are keen to work with other voluntary groups to look after monuments near you. Get in touch if you’d like to help.
We set out to create a showcase for volunteering opportunities relating to wildlife and to highlight all the fantastic work that goes on across East Dartmoor NNR, on Dartmoor and around Devon. Thanks to all the hard work of our friends and volunteers across 12 organisations we certainly achieved that!
The Volunteering Taster Day, held on 1st November was organised like a recruitment fair with stalls and activities staffed by volunteers highlighting the great work they undertake. Feedback from visitors on the day was that they were excellent and that everyone was very friendly and informative.
This was the first time we had run such an event so we were very pleased that 15 people expressed strong interest – many in more than one area of volunteering. We are now following up these contacts.
We are now looking at the possibility of running another volunteering taster event for the MTMTE scheme at another location in the Spring.
Below is a list of the organisations and opportunities being showcased at the event.
Bat Monitoring, Fingle Wood Volunteers – Woodland Trust
Bird Monitoring, Butterfly Surveying, Data Webbers, Estate Maintenance, History Hunters, Sunday Practical Task Group, Science, Operation Otter –Natural England
Devon Butterfly Conservation
Devon Fly Group
Devon Fungi Group
Devon Lichen Group
Devon Moth Group
Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG)
Moor than meets the eye Landscape Partnership
Wildlife Hit Squad
The moors and woodlands of the Bovey Valley on Dartmoor provided the beautiful autumn backdrop for the Bovey Beauty, a 10 mile fell race over tough and hilly terrain. Athletes came from all corners of Devon and as far as Stroud and Ilkley to compete in the race as its reputation for a challenging route in spectacular scenery spreads. Starting at the Woodland Trust’s Pullabrook Woods the runners climbed 560m through the ancient woodlands of Lustleigh Cleave to Hunter’s Tor. After taking in the expansive view the route took them back through the Natural England reserve, following the tricky, boulder strewn path before navigating open moorland and returning along woodland tracks to the start point.
This year the theme was habitat improvement for the Pearl Bordered Fritillary and the volunteers enjoyed a camp fire with hot chocolate. Next time you will be able to help another important part of the local ecosystem.
If you’d like to join the Bovey Beauty and race for nature, contact Dave Rickwood at the Woodland Trust by emailing DavidRickwood@woodlandtrust.org.uk . It’s fun for all ages and abilities and an excellent autumn day out.
Widecombe Chuch House was packed on the night of 12th Nov with over 50 people coming from across Devon to hear John Lowe talk about the Hameldown Boys- the airmen who crashed on Hameldown during the second world war.
John’s talk followed his extraordinary journey as he researched into the crash, discovered more about the young men who died, met relatives and witnesses. It turned out that his interest was all sparked by a chance encounter with the memorial stone on Hameldown on a navigation exercise!
He also was able to share some of the details of the latest piece of the investigation as he unveiled a summary of the geophysics survey results, indicating the location of the crash, which we had been able to support through Moor than meets the eye.
Johns aim is to keep the memory of these young men alive and his passion and enthusiasm for this took the audience along with him and is a fitting tribute.
If you have not done so, so far, take a look at Johns website Hameldown Boys
Children from Moretonhampstead Primary School came out to visit East Dartmoor NNR as part of their EcoSchools work to get closer to nature. We organised and ran a shelter building session which helped the children think about what they would need to live out on the moor and their Bronze age ancestors who made their homes here 4,000 years ago. The children reflected that many of the resources that they required would have been similar- open ground, sheltered from the worst of the winds, access to trees for building materials, nearby water. One small difference however was that these shelters only lasted for the day before being taken down…unlike the Bronze age hut circles which are still easily found on the moor 4,000 years later.
The children built some great shelters which was just as well as there were some heavy showers over lunch and they felt sure that whatever our similarities with our Bronze Age ancestors that we had the best device for cooking popcorn-2 sieves on a stick!
We are now looking to recruit four EcoSkills graduate trainees for a 12 month placement. They will help us to deliver key elements of the whole MTMTE scheme whilst consoldating their skills and knowledge in applied conservation management. They will be hosted by Natural England and will be based at East Dartmoor NNR. The scheme will provide plenty of practical opportunities and training to allow people to develop their skills across the whole of the MTMTE area and broaden their experience and understanding of landscape scale heritage conservation
East Dartmoor NNR is a fantastic location for these trainees to be based and has a 60-year history of scientific study and exemplary conservation management. As the Government nature conservation body, Natural England has a key role to play in investing in environmental skills for the future.