The “Race for Nature” Shows the Beauty of the Bovey Valley

The growing reputation of the Bovey Beauty gained momentum this year with another successful 10-mile fell run through the breath taking landscapes of Dartmoor. On a sunny but blustery September morning 38 entrants from around the Southwest waited under starter’s orders in Pullabrook Woods, deep in the Bovey Valley, preparing to tackle the spectacular grade B route. Forest tracks in the river valley led to climbs through ancient woodland before emerging onto wide open moorland at the top of Lustleigh Cleave. After passing a small herd of Dartmoor ponies the trial continued with a weaving descent through farmland and back into the western oak woods with mossy boulders of granite scattered between the ancient lichen clad trees.

As the beauty of the Bovey landscapes is best appreciated from the high ground, the route took one more climb up to the open moor, following the line of the old Bovey pottery leat and across heathland butterfly habitat before dropping down to Pullabrook Woods again. On the last leg of the race the runners passed the camp fire where the competitors’ families had been helping with woodland conservation tasks, and boiling the kettle for tea.

At the finish line, in an atmosphere of tired but enjoyable chatter one of the competitors said “it’s a great route. I normally get lost but this one was well marked”. The Bovey Beauty suits serious runners and the moderate adventurers who are out to enjoy the Bovey Valley at their own pace. Geoff Dave was first to complete the course and was more than happy, saying “that’s the first race I’ve ever won!”

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Top four finishers (L-R 4,2,1,3)

Each year the Bovey Beauty race raises awareness of one featured wild animal from the woodlands of the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve. This year the “race for nature” was run to highlight the otter, a protected species and one of the favourite inhabitants of the Bovey Valley. Those who are lucky enough to have seen an otter will know that they are largely nocturnal and, in recent years, local volunteers have been studying this elusive species using night-vision cameras.

The Woodland Trust and Natural England jointly organise the race and in previous years have featured rare and interesting wild species including the oil beetle, red wood ants, the barbastelle bat and the pearl bordered fritillary.

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Mark Gilmartin shows off the 2016 Bovey Beauty t-shirt

Running clubs from around Dartmoor were represented including Okehampton Running Club, Teignbridge Trotters, Erme Valley Harriers, Haldon Trail Runners and many more. We also look forward to the return of the Dorset Doddlers in next year’s race. If you are interested in joining the Bovey Beauty please contact Dave Rickwood on davidrickwood@woodlandtrust.org

by Matt Parkins

photos: Dave Rickwood, Richard Brown and Matt Parkins

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