• A special evening at Fingle Woods

    4th July 2014 | News | Claire
  • Of course, the most special thing was the fact that Fingle Woods is an almost incomparably beautiful place. The focal point is a clear fast flowing river, peppered with large granite rocks. Either side of the river is a steep valley, absolutely full of mature trees – oaks, beeches and other species in all their leafy summer glory.

    I have fun memories of when I was growing up, trudging along the footpath next to the river, scrambling over the rocks, with my sister and parents and then taking the steep climb up to the Hunters’s footpath, with its magnificent views across the valley, past the foot of Castle Drogo and then back along to Fingle Bridge.

    Last year, the Woodland Trust with the National Trust, managed to raise £3.8m to buy Fingle Woods after they came up for sale. The area is thought to have been wooded since at least 1600 and is around 800 acres.  See more here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-28154780

    The habitat that exists in such an established woodland will be incredibly rich and varied. Who knows what would have happened to the trees if the two charities hadn’t pulled out all the stops to buy the land.

    We walked over the bridge, pausing to stare down into the water, which was crystal clear. Dartmoor rivers seem to have a hypnotic quality about them and it can be hard to tear yourself away.

    On the other side of the river there is a large grassy clearing, where a number of tents had been set up.

    We walked over to say hello to the lovely gentle shire horse, who was munching grass – and coats too if you weren’t careful!

    Katie made a wooden disc necklace and we wrote down our thoughts and feelings about trees and woods on sticky labels.

    We then heard the beat of a drum and wandered over to the Travelling Talesman – http://www.thetravellingtalesman.co.uk/about.shtml who told a group of us an entrancing story about the power of ancient trees.

    Katie, walked off in search of dormouse box creation part way through the story and I caught up with her about 10 minutes later, as she used an electrical drill to make her own dormouse box.

    Jim White from White Wood Management was very patient with her and surprisingly relaxed about a 10 year old drilling into wood VERY close to his fingers!

    We could hear someone singing folk songs in another tent while we stood around a fire which unusually, was a column of wood, standing upright, partly split into sections. A shield bug had to be rescued from the ashes. It seemed fine!

    We met the manager of Fingle Woods, David Rickwood and talked about the role of the tree champion. 

    Then it was time to toast some Australian style dough and marshmallows over the fire.

    Later, there was another story from the Travelling Talesman around the fire – this time a more hard-hitting ancient tale which sought to demonstrate how man seems to be hellbent on destroying our precious environment. Then we were joined by a four piece band, singing some soulful 1950s American songs.

    We sat next to some people who run courses to help those who are having difficulties in their lives, including war veterans who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and young people who are having trouble at school.  Their organisation is called Running Deer. They do really excellent work.

    It was wonderful spending time with people who live their lives so closely with nature. 

    And I felt REALLY proud to be the Woodland Trust’s tree champion for Devon.

    Photograph: Katie making a dormouse box.