Roman mosaic unearthed at Chedworth

Archaeologist unearths Roman mosaic at live dig


During a live dig at Chedworth Roman Villa this week a team of National Trust archaeologists have unearthed Roman mosaics which haven’t been seen for at least 150 years.

 The new archaeological excavations of the North Wing at Chedworth Roman Villa are surprising and delighting not just the visitors but the archaeologists themselves, as this new mosaic of a grand Roman reception room has just been discovered, which no-one knew existed. Visitors can watch the live dig, and view these new mosaics until Friday 29 August – and yet more exciting discoveries could still be made. Continue reading…

A walk on the wild side

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFyne Court in the heart of the Quantock Hills is undergoing a quiet transformation and perhaps not in the obvious way.

Often referred to as a hidden gem, the large house and landscaped gardens have long been lost to fire and the wilds. Rather than opting to restore the garden to its former glory, the National Trust is taking a different approach, creating a wildlife corridor.

As Nigel Garnsworthy, head ranger explains: ‘There is always a bit of a management dilemma when looking after a property like this. The key thing is considering all the important features at Fyne Court whether they are ecological, cultural, historic or recreational and balancing all of these so that one aspect doesn’t impact too greatly on the others.’

Liz Hall, full time volunteer ranger is heading up the first phase of the project creating a wildlife garden at the entrance of the cobbled courtyard.

‘I wanted to create a visual welcome for our visitors, that was also friendly to wildlife particularly bees and butterfly.’

The planning of the wildlife garden was a collaborative one. In consultation with Butterfly Conservation, Somerset Wildlife Trusts, reptile and amphibian group (RAGS) and the head gardener at Barrington Court, Liz and a team of volunteers had a wealth of information on best practise and planting.

‘I’ve picked out flowers with all of this in mind. For example, the lavender hedge and buddleia that have just gone in will attract bees and butterflies whilst the honeysuckle on the back wall will be great for night fliers such as moths and bats. Plants like the shrub roses will flower for colour in the summer and the hips will feed the birds in the autumn. A willow roe deer sculpture acts as a finishing touch and means our visitors are bound to see at least one animal in the garden.’

The garden and additional feeders and bird and bat boxes that have gone up mark the start of a bigger picture, creating a wildlife corridor that runs to the dipping pond, on to the walled garden and beyond. We want the place to look cared for but in the spirit of wildness. We will be carrying out wildlife surveys later in the year to see who has made Fyne Court their new home.’

The plants were bought thanks to money from the Quantocks AONB sustainable development fund and the deer sculpture was funded from the generous donations people make in the second hand book stall located in the Fyne Court information area.

Canoeing to Bantham

Dave Halsall from Singing Paddles an outdoor adventure organisation based in South Devon took us on one of his favourite canoe trips to Bantham

One of my favourite canoe trips in South Devon is to drop down with the tide from Aveton Gifford to Bantham.  It’s the best way to arrive at the village, showing off Bantham to the full, sat in a bend of the estuary.  It’s only a short paddle it is full of interest and because the high tide covers the tidal road stopping the traffic it has quiet and remote feel.

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‘Bantham Beach; its just too perfect to risk losing’

Joel as  a child on Bantham Beach

Joel as a child on Bantham Beach

Joel Wakeling, National Trust Ranger in South Devon tells us why Bantham has played such an important role in his life.

‘As someone who has grown up in the South Hams, my life and my passions have without a doubt been shaped by countless happy hours spent on the best sandy beach in South Devon.

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Volunteers celebrate new chough chicks at Lizard Point.


A team of National Trust and RSPB volunteers have been watching on tenterhooks to see if the legacy of choughs on the Lizard would continue. The long wait is over, and it is good news!

As you may have heard, in 2013 volunteers witnessed the dramatic end of the original pair of choughs who had pioneered the natural return of choughs to Cornwall since 2001, raising 46 chicks. In late May the original male bird died defending his territory against a young incoming male, who then paired up with the existing female. Two weeks after the take over, she too disappeared, leaving the young incoming male to raise the chicks on his own. After a month of hard, lonely work the younger male managed to successfully raise the youngsters who fledged in July last year. Continue reading…

Wild flowers on Rodborough commons the “best in years”

Rodborough Common Early Purple orchids and Cowslips: Barry Batchelor
Yellow cowslips and early purple orchids on Rodborough Commons (C) National Trust/Barry Batchelor

 The display of wild flowers on Rodborough Commons has been described as the best seen in many years by National Trust rangers. The displays of bright yellow cowslips and other flowers such as early purple orchids can be seen right across the commons.

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Terrence the lamb lends a hand at Arlington

Terrence the lamb with Head Ranger Murray Sharpe

Terrence with Head Ranger Murray Sharpe

Arlington Court in North Devon has a rather cute new member of staff in the shape of a Jacob Sheep lamb who is being hand reared by the Head Ranger Murray.

Terrence, who was part of a twin born to one of the historic herd of 65 Jacob sheep at the property, was very small when he was born and not expected to live and struggling to walk and so was taken away from his mum and he is now being are now being looked after Murray Sharpe, Arlington’s Head Ranger.

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Celebrating Penrose access improvements

DSC_5157 copyAn event to celebrate the completion of the Penrose Paths for Communities project took place on Friday 4th April at the Old Cattle Market in Helston to bring together a wide range of community groups and organisations who have all helped to support access improvements in the area.

The project has also seen the completion of the improved surfacing at Helston Drive, a new easy access route to avoid the coast path steps at Tye Rock, a new Bridleway route through Higher Penrose Farm and a new Boardwalk at Carminowe Creek. Continue reading…