An independent voice and a forum for debate for those who find Dartmoor a source of livelihood or inspiration

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Forthcoming Events

The following events have been organised over the next few months. More details can be found in our Newsletters. New events are normally added to the website to coincide with Newsletters being posted.

Please use the Book Now buttons to book places and pay online. If you are a Dartmoor Society member please sign into the Member Centre beforehand so you can book places for members-only events and not need to enter all your contact details every time.

Alternatively you can download and print a booking form and post it to us together with a cheque to cover any payment to The Dartmoor Society, PO Box 570, Torquay, TQ1 9JB.

When our events are over-subscribed, waiting lists are created. If you find that you cannot attend an event you have booked for, please contact the Honorary Secretary as soon as possible. Your place can then be allocated to someone else.


Moorlands Farm Visit

Monday 12th August, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
PL20 6SA, SX 625 735

Layland and Gill Branfield have very kindly invited us to visit their farm at Moorlands, Princetown, Yelverton, PL20 6SA, for our annual farm visit. The farm is situated right in the heart of the moor and entirely within the Dartmoor National Park.

The Branfields rear mainly Stabiliser suckler cows and Swaledale ewes, with some other breeds and crosses of sheep and cattle, for a variety of reasons. Historically, they both left the family farm which was based on Exmoor in 1987 to enable them to start farming on their own at Moorlands. They now have a grown-up family who have moved away to pursue other activities although they still maintain an interest in the farm.

In addition to their animals, they nurture a wealth of flora and fauna and archaeological history on their land which they are very keen to share with us. So as well as receiving a fascinating insight on the day to day running of the farm itself, there will be a walk of approximately 2 miles over rough moorland which will include seeing a 4,000 year old hut circle, evidence of peat cutting and tin streaming, and much more.

After our walk, Layland and Gill are very kindly providing tea for us. There will be no charge for this visit, but donations are welcome at tea time.

Moorlands Farm is sited near the Prince Hall Hotel on the B3357 and directions to it are as follows: Take the turning for Prince Hall Hotel, turn left at the next junction, proceed over a second cattle grid and follow the tarmac road down to the Dartmoor Training Centre. Pass over the small bridge, ascend out of the valley, turn right signed ‘Moorlands Farm’ and follow the concrete road to the farm at SX 625 735. Please park where signposted.

Pre-booking is essential for catering purposes.

  • Members only.
  • No dogs.
  • No charge.
  • Please book by Thursday 8th August.

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William Pengelley Cave Studies Trust Visit

Wednesday 18th September, 5:00pm – 6:30pm
TQ11 0DY, SX 743 664

The trust was set up in 1962 to study caves and promote conservation of the cave environment. Research projects include such subjects as water percolation, cave location techniques, palaeontology and bats. The museum displays examples of their conservation work and introduces visitors to many aspects of speleology.

Our visit starts with a walk to the ruined 13th century Church of the Holy Trinity enjoying magnificent views of Dartmoor en-route. Our host Sheila Philips will then take us to Higher Kiln Quarry which, as an area of hibernation for greater and lesser horseshoe bats, has been declared both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

In addition, we will also visit the Joint Mitnor Bone Cave. The cave contains the richest deposit of mammalian remains of the last interglacial period ever found in a British cave, and most probably dates from about 100,000 years ago. Due to its historic significance, extensive excavations were carried out between 1939 and 1941 by the Torquay Natural History Society who found remains of over 4,000 bones of prehistoric animals such as hippopotamus, cave lion, bear, wolf, giant deer, narrow-nosed rhinoceros, bison, hyena and straight tusked elephants.

These fascinating limestone caves also contain evidence of a number of geological features including earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Our tour will also include a visit to the recently refurbished museum where there is a variety of exhibits and an opportunity to learn more about this unique site located on the edge of Dartmoor.

The full address details for this event are: The William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust, Russets Lane, Buckfastleigh, TQ11 0DY. Map reference: SX 743 664.

There is ample parking and toilets available on site and we are recommending that dogs do not attend due to them having to be strictly on a lead at all times and as they are not allowed at all into the bone cave itself.

It is advisable to bring along a torch.

  • Open to the public – non-members welcome.
  • No dogs.
  • £5.00 each.
  • Please book by Saturday 14th September.

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The Dartmoor Society Debate 2019

Saturday 12th October, 9:30am – 5:00pm
Ashburton Arts Centre, 15 West Street, Ashburton, TQ13 7DT

The Secret Life of Dartmoor Birds: Survival Through Science?

The Dartmoor Society’s flagship event this year will focus on the birdlife of Dartmoor and is open to anyone who is interested to know what birds are found on the moor and to understand the measures that are taken to protect them.

It is an opportunity for those who work on bird projects to share their latest research. These are local enthusiasts and scientists who carry out surveys and monitoring on the ground, and those who take this raw data and use it to answer questions about how we can retain our bird species and even increase their numbers. Their work is an essential resource for organisations and individuals who develop land management policies aimed at improving habitats and maintaining healthy bird populations.

We will look at the factors that make this work necessary, such as pressure on habitats and food sources, farming, recreation and climate change. How do we balance the need to prevent disturbance to birds and their habitats, and to protect their food sources, with the requirement to make Dartmoor ever more accessible to people?

The day will take us across much of Dartmoor from the high moor and the wetlands through to wood and farmland species.

Our chair is Alison Kohler, Director of Conservation and Communities at Dartmoor National Park. Ally’s job brings her into daily contact with people who are protecting Dartmoor’s culture, heritage and wildlife. Our speakers all work on Dartmoor and are passionate about its ecology and birdlife.

Programme

0930 Arrival – refreshments available.

1000 Formal welcome by The Dartmoor Society.

1005 Chair’s introduction to topic and speakers.

1010 Fiona Freshney – Dartmoor Moorland Bird Project Advisor (a partnership funded Project hosted by the RSPB).
Introducing Dartmoor’s moorland birds. Fiona is an ecologist who has worked on Dartmoor for nearly 20 years involved in a range of activities: ring ouzel and dunlin monitoring, SSSI mapping and vegetation assessments, research into pony grazing behaviour and agri-environment work. She will give an overview of Dartmoor’s moorland birds and their habitats, with a focus on those facing particular challenges and some for which Dartmoor remains an important stronghold. Case studies illustrate the importance of research, data collection and trials.

1040 Mark Lawrence – British Trust for Ornithology Bird Ringer and Nest Recorder.
The Nest Finder of Dartmoor’. Nest recording requires patience and skill and Mark has recorded and then monitored thousands of nests on Dartmoor for over 10 years, providing the vital raw data for the BTO and other scientific projects. His own species of interest include cirl buntings, peregrine falcons, ravens and crossbills.

1100 Charles Tyler – Professor in Environmental Biology at the University of Exeter.
Findings from a 10-year nest recording study seeking to protect Dartmoor’s ground nesting birds. Over 2000 nests of ground breeding birds have been studied, including species in national decline, on Holne Moor, Dartmoor. This presentation will illustrate how his team combined a range of research methods with proactive academic outreach to influence land manager decision-making regarding local conservation of these ground nesting birds.

1130 Tea/coffee break

1200 Malcolm Burgess – Senior Conservation Scientist at the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science.
Diagnosing causes of migratory bird decline through technology and citizen science. Malcolm is at the leading edge of using bird tracking technology and runs a citizen science network monitoring pied flycatchers. He will talk about how technology and citizen science is providing new information that is helping us understand why Dartmoor woodland birds the pied flycatcher, spotted flycatcher, wood warbler and whinchat are in decline.

1230 Questions and discussion

1300 Buffet lunch (during which there will be slides and sounds of Dartmoor Birds)

1400 John Walters – Field Naturalist, Wildlife Artist and Author.
The Secret Life of Long-tailed Tits. This new talk is the result of many hours observing and recording the behaviour of long-tailed tits on Dartmoor. John has worked on many television and radio programmes including the BBC’s Life in the Undergrowth, The Living World and The One Show.

1430 Naomi Oakley – Dartmoor Farmer, Environmentalist and Natural England Advisor.
A Dartmoor farm managed for multiple public goods. Naomi will explain how the farmed livestock and wildlife on her farm are mutually beneficial, how agri-environment schemes work for her now and what ‘public money for public goods’ could mean in the future.

1500 Afternoon tea/coffee and cakes

1530 Peter Reay – Devon Local Organiser for the Wetland Bird Survey and a former editor of the Devon Bird Report. Now involved in producing an annual Dartmoor Bird Report, available through Devon Birds.
Damming, digging and ducks. Reservoirs and other man-made water bodies occupy only a small proportion of the Dartmoor area, yet provide the main component of standing water habitat on the moor. Peter has a special interest in wetland birds and his talk will include the results of a two year study of how Goosanders use the Avon Dam Reservoir.

1550 Sara Zonneveld – Ecologist at the University of Exeter.
The future of recreation on Dartmoor and implications for wildlife. Sara has worked on a range of projects related to bird breeding and conservation, most recently on ground-nesting birds on Dartmoor. This talk will focus on her work as part of the SWEEP project (South West Partnership for Environment & Economic Prosperity), which brings together different academic disciplines and stakeholders to help solve challenges in managing the natural environment.

1620 Questions, discussion and summing up

1700 Close

When booking, please ensure you inform us of any special dietary requirements. There are no tickets supplied for this event, however, all online bookings will receive an email response. Please book by 5pm on Monday 7th October.

Ashburton has a public car park that is just a few minutes’ walk from the arts centre. This car park can get busy at weekends so early parking and car sharing is advised. There is a dropping off area in front of the arts centre for those with limited mobility.

The confirmed programme will be posted here just before our October newsletter is published.

  • Open to the public – non-members welcome.
  • Members: £17.00 each.
  • Non-members: £20.00 each.
  • Please book by Monday 7th October.

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The Dartmoor Society Research Lecture 2019

Friday 15th November, 7:00pm
Dolphin Hotel, Station Road, Bovey Tracey, TQ13 9AL - SX 813 782

Conservation Grazing with Dartmoor Ponies – Reducing Molinia Dominance and Encouraging the Germination of Calluna Vulgaris (Heather) on an Upland Site on Dartmoor

Presented by Dr Paul Lunt and Dru Butterfield

Dr Paul Lunt is Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Environmental Science, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at Plymouth University. He and his students have been working closely with The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT), headed by Dru Butterfield, and with grassland conservation grazing specialist Malcolm Gibb. The DPHT is a charity created to help ensure a sustainable future for the Dartmoor pony on Dartmoor.

Their research has taken place at Bellever Forest, Postbridge, and involves intensive studies with the aim of meeting Natural England’s requirement for scientific evidence of pony grazing impacts. The DPHT project measures the effectiveness of ponies combatting Molinia invasion. There will be a slide presentation and time for comments and questions afterwards.

When booking please ensure you inform us of any special dietary requirements. There are no tickets supplied for this event, however, all online bookings will receive an email response.

  • Open to the public – non-members welcome.
  • Members: £10.00 each.
  • Non-members: £12.00 each.
  • Includes a light buffet after the lecture.
  • Please book by Monday 11th November.

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