It’s your coast – help us care for it

National Trust volunteers and staff cleaning Bossington Beach, on the Holnicote Estate, Exmoor National Park, Somerset.

National Trust volunteers and staff cleaning Bossington Beach, on the Holnicote Estate, Exmoor National Park, Somerset.

As part of the 2015 South West Coastal Festival which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Neptune Coastline Campaign, the National Trust is asking for volunteers to dress down, get dirty and help clean 17 beaches across the South West for the Big Beach Clean week 15th March – 22nd March.

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More time to enjoy the ‘loveliest place in the world’

Agatha Christie called Greenway, her holiday home in South Devon, the ‘loveliest place in the world’ and from this weekend this English Riviera hotspot will be opening its doors for the start of the 2015 season.

As part of work the National Trust is doing to ensure that its places open more often and on similar days across the week wherever you visit, the opening arrangements at Greenway, were reviewed last year and Greenway will now be open to visitors seven days a week until the end of October 2015.

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Killerton canters on with conservation grazing

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This week a herd of 10 Dartmoor ponies took up temporary residence on an extinct volcano at Killerton estate near Exeter.

Dolbury Hill is the tree-lined backdrop to Killerton House, known locally as ‘The Clump’, which is steeped in 3000 years of history. The hill’s rare geology and relics of an Iron Age Hill Fort have led it to be designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Scheduled Monument.

Ed Nicholson, Killerton’s Lead Ranger, explains why grazing Dartmoor ponies have had such a positive impact on the nature conservation of this sensitively managed area. Continue reading…

By-The-Wind-Sailors

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These beautiful little chaps are currently being washed up on the beach at South Milton Sands as a result of the strong winds we’ve been having.

They are By-The-Wind-Sailors (Velella velalla) a colonial hydroid (related to jellyfish).  They’re up to 10cm in length little tentacle hang down from the disc to catch food.

The little ‘sail’ can run from north-west to south-east on the disc or south-west to north-east meaning they move in different directions in the wind to help prevent large strandings.

David Bullock, head of nature conservation for the National Trust, said: “They are wonderful. The surfers call them bluebottles because of their sting.

“They turn up in their thousands after strong southwesterlies, having drifted across the Atlantic. One of my many epiphany moments as a kid rock pooling was finding them on Rhosilli beach and I still think about it now.

“I found some last September at Kynance Cove. It’s a good sign that other stuff is in the strandline such as sea beans and other drift seeds from the Amazon. It’s time to go beachcombing!”

Let us know if you see anymore as you might well see some more on other beaches in the South West.

Badger vaccination project at Killerton

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Badger vaccination project at Killerton Estate, Devon (video)

In 2011, the National Trust began a badger vaccination project at Killerton to demonstrate the practicality of vaccinating Badgers by injection across a large  agricultural estate (20km2) with a high proportion of cattle based enterprises both beef and dairy.  An additional aim was that by 2015 we would have a Badger population at Killerton with substantially reduced levels of TB in what is a significant hotspot for the disease in cattle in the West Country. Continue reading…

The peace and uncomplicated beauty of Bantham

I was born in Devon grew up near Killerton. Weekend trips to the beach were a regular part of my childhood whatever the weather. In fact, my family tended to avoid high summer when our favourite haunts were full of holiday-makers, preferring to visit instead in the winter when dogs could run on the beach. We’d take tennis balls and and an old racquet for them and my dad would send the balls an impossible distance along the sand for them to chase. They’d fall asleep in the car on the way home, wet coats pressing against our legs, misting up the windows.

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Making a big splash

Richard Snow, National Trust Head Ranger picture by Steven Haywood

Richard Snow, National Trust Head Ranger picture by Steven Haywood

A team of intrepid National Trust rangers have made the headlines with an awareness raising 5 km swim at Bantham in South Devon. The team plus local supporters started their swim at Aveton Gifford on the Avon River and swam down the estuary finishing up on the beach at Bantham some three hours later.

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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 holds a special place in my heart….

Bantham Beach

Bantham Beach

Richard Snow is the National Trust Head Ranger in South Devon and remembers first visiting Bantham beach as a child, and is now sharing his love of this special place with his daughter.

“I first visited Bantham beach as a child when we used to travel down to the south west for short holidays and even then, although we would usually try different places each year, I clearly remember it because of the unique setting with Burgh Island set just off shore connected by a sandy causeway and a clear blue river winding back into the wooded Avon estuary. The large sandy beach and rolling surf offered a young boy an expansive playground where the imagination could run wild with sand castles, pirates, treasure and wild animals.

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