Friday, 30 April 2010

Plymouth Unlocked

This bank holiday weekend, we are taking the National Trust to town and the people of Plymouth, launching an attempt to bust perceptions and show off what we have to offer in terms of open space, countryside and coast, as well as houses and gardens.

The properties that surround Plymouth (Cotehele/Saltram/South Devon/Dartmoor/Plym Bridge/Buckland) have come together to create an event which will represent the start of us working together to engage with the residents of Plymouth.

From 10am - 5pm, this Saturday and Sunday, on the Piazza (outside House of Fraser) in Plymouth City Centre, the public will have a chance to see just how much there is to do when they visit Trust places by visiting our marquee - from trying on costumes to building mini-dry stone walls, and from attempting a climbing wall to waxing surfboards. All activities on offer are free. We are also using the two days as time to gain valuable feedback on what people think of us.

It's the outdoors that we are really emphasising, to encourage people to discover what is on their doorsteps, often for free. We want to encourage people to discover the outdoors, to try new things, and through doing this, hopefully visiting some of the beautiful places in our care

Bluebells at Wembury

May is just round the corner and with it we hope the bluebells. A little later than last year, National Trust woodland floors will soon be covered with these beautiful English wildflowers.
Join a guided walk or discover for yourself some great displays of bluebells and wild garlic.

At Wembury on Thursday 6 May we will be exploring the recently opened woodlands at Wembury. Last year this pretty piece of woodland along the river Yealm surprised us all with a fantastic display of English bluebells. The Head Ranger, Simon Garner, will be leading the walk and pointing out the rich wildlife along the way.

Other great places to spot bluebells in South Devon are at Gallants Bower (3 mile circular walk from NT Little Dartmouth car park), Tor woods near Overbeck’s (park at NT East Soar car park), or along the coast path from East Portlemouth to Gara Rock (park at NT Mill Bay car park). The walk through Wembury Woods on 6 May is £3 and booking is essential on 01752 346585.
For other great woodland walks where you can spot bluebells visit

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Species of moth - new to science - found at Hembury Woods

A moth previously unknown to science has been discovered at the National Trust’s Hembury Woods in Devon.

With the well-documented loss of British wildlife, this discovery of a new species of micro moth is even more significant given that it has been found nowhere else in the world.

This find was made by local amateur naturalist Bob Heckford. Bob has known Hembury Woods for years, and spotted the unusual bright green caterpillars of this tiny leaf-mining moth on oak saplings.

Matthew Oates, Nature Conservation Adviser at the National Trust, said: “We hear so much about the losses to the natural world, and less about the gains; which makes this find, however small, so important. Amateur naturalists have a wonderful window on the wildlife world and nature continues to amaze us and throw up surprises even in the UK.”

The moths themselves are so tiny – with a wingspan of about 6mm – that you’d have to be sharp-eyed to see them. In fact, what Bob first spotted in Hembury Woods were the tell-tale signs of mines made by the caterpillars in oak leaves. He subsequently found a few more of these caterpillars nearby.

This year, this micro moth has officially been recognised as a new species, and named after the man who discovered it – Ectoedemia heckfordi.

This find is important because one the specimens is now acknowledged by the scientific world as the ‘type’ for that species, against which any future finds will be compared and then determined.

Given the scientific value of this micro moth, a specimen will be added to world famous collection at the Natural History Museum in London. Equally importantly this find makes Hembury Woods the ‘type’ locality.

The woods near Buckfastleigh are a wildlife hot spot. The River Dart runs through the dense oak woodland, which is rich in wild flowers such as bluebells and primroses, and a special site for moths and butterflies.

Since Bob’s early days in the South West he’s had a keen interest in the natural world. He has been the first to find other micro moth species that were previously unknown in the British Isles, including one on National Trust’s land in Cornwall: and in 2006 he rediscovered an oil beetle on National Trust land in south Devon that was thought to be extinct in the British Isles.

In this the International Year of Biodiversity, it is important to pay credit to dedicated amateur naturalists such as him – the often unsung heroes of the natural world.

Matthew Oates continued: “In the UK we have some of the finest naturalists in the world and there is a real need to encourage this deep-rooted tradition of discovery in children and adults.

“This discovery was really a needle in a haystack find and it gives us a tempting insight into what might still be out there.”

This spring and summer, there are events at National Trust properties right across the country that will reveal the wealth of our hidden nature, and bring out the wild side in everyone.

Find out more at

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Escape the city

Make the most of this amazing sunshine and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Only 30 minutes outside of Plymouth you can discover smuggler's lanes and your own unspoilt, secluded cove. Park at the National Trust's car park at Ayrmer Cove. Free if you are a NT member or just £2 for all day.
Make a day of it and take a picnic or visit the Journey's End Inn for a pint and a bite of lunch. Download the walk to find your route down to the sea. Its a 3 mile circular walk with some steep parts. Or if you want to go further afield check out the rest of the site for great walks in Devon and Cornwall and beyond!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Spotty the Dartmoor sensation at Wembury Point

'The long nose, swishy tail and neat little hooves were all horse. But his coat is pure Dalmation Dog.' So started The Daily Mail's account of our own spotty Dartmoor pony born on Easter Monday at Wembury Point. This 3 day old unusual looking foal was soon to become a media star with photos and articles across the internet and newsprint.

Now safely home back on Dartmoor, his family are just one of a group of horses who graze the Trust's South Devon coast to help munch away at the scrub.

He is in fact, a British Spotted Pony - born to a chocolate mare but with a father just as dotty as he is. The NT warden team have called him Pongo - after the dog in the book and film, 1001 Dalmations.

Did you know? During Roman times important officers were given spotted horses as a sign of power. There are currently around 170 spotted horses born in Britain every year.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Picnic tables at Plymbridge

In time for the Easter holidays we installed two picnic tables in our meadow at Plymbridge for visitors to enjoy a picnic or barbeque in comfort. The specially adapted tables have a plate on one end to put your disposable barbeque on. The family in this picture were the first to use the tables during our Easter egg hunt. They were delighted with them and thought it was a lovely idea. They told us they often come down to Plymbridge and will be certain to use the tables again during the summer.
There are two more tables to go up in the next couple of weeks. Why not let us know what you think of them. Keep your eye on the Dartmoor blog at as very soon you will be able to download a map to show you where you can barbeque and picnic in Plymbridge woods.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Catch great surf at Wembury on Saturday

Check out the great surf at Wembury this weekend.
The weather is set for great surfing on Saturday (3 April). The place was buzzing this morning. Its £4 to park but if you are under 25 years fork out £22 and you can park at Wembury all year long as park free at loads of other beach car parks across Devon, Cornwall and Wales.