The Timber Trail – History in the Making

Weaving through the narrow lanes on western Dartmoor, I’m heading up a dead-end, single-track road. As I arrive at Lane End, the hard surfacing gives way to open windswept moorland. Oh no! I’ve gone too far! I need to go back and look for a small track … and there it is, guiding me between two age-old stone walls. It feels like I’m going back in time; this landscape has hardly changed in hundreds of years, but it is veryRead more

John and the Robin

  John Clare was a 19th century English poet who loved the countryside. He lived in the sweeping rural landscape of Northamptonshire and, working as a farm labourer, grew up in poverty without any formal schooling. Paradoxically, his poetry left us with a rare insight into an important period of rural life after the Enclosure Acts which radically changed land ownership, bringing in newer forms of agriculture. John Clare recorded, in his own, self-educated words how he saw the welfareRead more

Crucial Connections – Lichen on Wood Banks

Volunteers in the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve have been taking the chance to do some real science; citizen science that is going to contribute to a better understanding of lichens across the ancient woodlands of the South West. The “Atlantic” woodlands around Dartmoor are under pressure and, in some areas, becoming isolated or disconnected from each other. But there are some remnants of ancient woodland, draped like threads across the landscape that provide a lifeline of natural habitat betweenRead more

Pullabrook Wood Boundary – Lost in Time?

Ancient boundaries can maintain a vital link to the past; across Devon there are many miles of earth banks with different characters. Some stand stony-faced while others are draped with a display of wildflowers. Some have a shrubby hedge running along the top and others remain bare-backed. Some may be hundreds of years old while others began their existence back in the mists of history, maybe even thousands of years ago but, for all of them, their original purpose inRead more

Working Woodlands

In the dense broadleaf woodland of the Bovey Valley, tucked away on a south facing slope just above the river lies the remains of an old farmstead – Boveycombe Farm. The farmstead and field systems have records dating as far back as 1332 all the way up until the 1940’s when some of the fields were farmed for potatoes. Since then, the farm has become engulfed by the surrounding woodland. Myself, Daniel and Tristan (full time trainees at East DartmoorRead more

Hisley Heritage Walk

People have lived and worked on Dartmoor for thousands of years and evidence of this history can be found on the ground today …if you know where to look. The East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve and Bovey Valley holds many clues and can tell many stories about our ancestors’ lives in the area. A new walking route, Hisley Heritage Walk, has been designed to encourage people to become historians as they follow a five kilometre trail through Hisley Wood. The description ofRead more