Core conservation work
Along the coast from Woolacombe, through Mortehoe and on to Ilfracombe there are many miles of coastal footpaths. All of these and their associated paths to the beach need to be constantly maintained. This work varies from rebuilding steps washed away by winter storms to resurfacing eroded footpaths and cutting grass during the summer.
As an annual protection method to reduce the erosion impact of up to 10,000 visitors a day, we erect a beach fence which is over half a mile long and is in place between May and September. It is a mammoth task and we recruit the help of other staff. To stabilise the dunes, they have have been planted with marram grass, in places. This helps to knit the sand together.
Whilst our core work is conserving the landscape, we also want to encourage people to get out there and enjoy it. The National Trust in this area is involved in various sports, from the Woolacombe Marathon to wild swimming, guided walks to runner training sessions. Sport in Woolacombe is an exciting way for visitors and locals to enjoy the land we protect for everyone to use.
Local children and families
We are able to offer a local school young ranger club, practical experience days and creative natural activities. These include stone walling, beach cleaning, artwork and outdoor cooking. In addition to this schools have also visited our Head Office and had a trip to Lundy Island. The children learn about the rangers' job and how to enjoy and be responsible in the outdoors as well discovering their local area.
Families are able to join us for unique volunteering days. You learn a new skill and we get help completing a task. Previous days have seen young children working with grandparents to clear areas of gorse using bow saws and loppers. Other days are spent learning to stone wall; children and adults learn a new skill and get to repair their very own section of wall. There is always a fire and marshmallows at the end.
Each year we host about seven working holidays. These are generally week-long active holidays where participants get to undertake a traditional conservation task whilst staying at Exmoor Bunkhouse. Some of the holidays include an active element such as wild swimming, surfing or hang-gliding. The volunteers help the rangers with tasks that might otherwise not get done or where it's simply a case of 'many hands make light work'.
What we're up to over the coming months
- Strimming our network of over 30 miles of footpaths
- Maintaining and repairing stiles, gates, way-marker posts and steps
- Major stone faced hedge bank restoration at Ilfracombe Torrs