The recent spell of ‘unsettled’ weather may have played havoc with crops in the fields and people’s veg patches but the grass and vegetation has taken advantage and gone into overdrive on Dartmoor. This is particularly around public rights of way and archaeological features and whatever the weather we have to carry on with our duties year round to ensure that paths are still accessible and features not ‘lost’ in the under(or over!)growth.
With that in mind, whilst it is still a bit early in the season, I have started to do some strimming along the public rights of way. It’s still the bird nesting season until the end of July so I double checked along the paths to make sure that I wouldn’t cause disturbance to any nests or young before I started work. The paths that I cleared were around Cornwood on the southern edge of the Moor. Both paths were more grasses and stinging nettles (soft vegetation) rather than hedge rows and gorse, but because of the warm weather in May followed by a wet June the vegetation was very high and made the paths impassable. As always it wasn’t quite as straightforward as just strimming as my work attracted some horrible horse flies and I got munched!
I recently joined the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) volunteers at the southern edge of Roborough Down to do some bracken bashing along the Drakes Leat. For the past couple of years the DPA have been coming out and clearing the vegetation along this beautiful archaeological feature, preserving it for the future and making is more accessible to visitors to this area. The warm, wet weather has meant that the bracken is prolific and has encroached along the leat, but it has also meant that the Foxgloves have sprung up in abundance, a slash of vivid pink amongst all the green. Using simple “slashers” around 15 of us got down to it, bashing at the bracken and trying to leave as many foxgloves as possible. We spied several butterflies darting amongst the foxgloves and were also privileged to see a beautiful Yellow Hammer, who serenaded us for a while as we worked. A good day all round!
For further information on volunteering projects on Dartmoor see the National Park’s volunteering pages
Ranger Andrea Crisp,