As part of Dartmoor National Park’s 60th anniversary, the Rangers have led a series of community events. Local Ranger, Ella Briens decided that one of her community events would be a volunteer work party that would complement the extensive maintenance programme of works on Diamond Lane, Shipley.
For those of you that are not familiar with the lane, it is designated a bridleway but is notorious in its challenging nature and provides more of a scramble up to open moorland as opposed to an easy access route for walkers, mountain bikers and horse-riders alike! That said the challenge it provides certainly contributes to its ‘character’ as much as the almost cobbled rough surface and distinctive boulder edging, dry stone wall boundaries, ‘tree tunnels’ and springs. As with all moor land routes, the main issue is the amount of water that runs down it, the old drainage system that is easily blocked and the gradual loss of a surface due to ongoing trickling springs together with high velocity extreme run off from a heavy rainfall event.
Earlier this year a decision had to be made regarding the bottom section of the lane that had become extensively eroded (over a metre in depth in places) and dangerous undermining of the adjacent boundary walling had begun. To reduce the probability on an imminent collapse onto the route, the most eroded section was filled with stone and re-surfaced, greatly improving the access. For this remedial work to remain in place, it was essential to sort out the drainage and this is where the help of volunteers was needed.
Larger scale drainage works could be completed by a digger above the route, limiting the actual volume of water flowing down from the top, but the main channel running alongside the lane, together with the cross drains had to be cleared by hand due to limited access and prevalent tree roots that had to be carefully cleared around.
So, a gang of enthusiastic diggers joined Ella, fellow Ranger Paul Glanville and the Conservation Works Mason Andy Cribbet, with the challenge of completing the whole route! The two days were a great success and were attended by local residents, volunteer wardens, the South Brent Action Group and the local horse-riding community together with someone who had seen the work advertised on our volunteering pages. The work required varied from stone-picking to brash burning and vegetation trimming together with clearing the drain – so varied levels of back ache could be achieved! Work was definitely spurred on with buns that we provided from ‘crums and cuppa’ in South Brent!
So a big thank you to all that helped us achieve the next stage of work for the lane. Dartmoor National Park Authority will also we working on further sections to improve further tricky parts of the route during the winter.
It is also worth mentioning that there will be a continued programme of path clearing events which have already kicked off with help from Plymouth Environmental Action and local horse riders, who joined me last weekend clearing, high pruning and hedge laying the Didworthy bridleway – thank you also to the local residents who baked us cakes in their appreciation!!! (it is all about the cake!).