Our work at Watersmeet

Rangers out working on the coast with views towards Foreland Point

It's all part of their daily work, but we though you might be interested to find out about some of the tasks that our team gets up to;

  • Woodland management
We've launched a huge programme of rhododendron control to allow the natural ground plants to flourish. We are lucky enough to have the rare white beam tree growing in the valley and so have created nearby glades to give it the light to flourish. By managing the woodland floor we also encourage other rare species such as Irish spurge to flourish.
  • Footpath work for visitor access
With about 70 miles of footpaths looking after this takes up a lot of our time during the summer months. Every mile has to be strimmed, some paths need to be levelled to combat erosion. Repairs need to be done to gates, benches, sign posts and steps. This work is often only made possible by the help of numerous volunteer groups.
  • Rock works

The main road above the Watersmeet Valley has vast outcrops of geologically important rocks. These make the valley look spectacular, but they also need to be monitored to ensure they are safe. A major survey is done each year, but they are constantly assessed by us locally. Following the survey we may remove trees, topple rocks to a safe place or if the rocks are left in place they may be pinned or netted for stabilisation.

  • Moorland management
Every year we undertake the historic practise of swaling. This is where an area of the moor is deliberately set on fire to control the growth of gorse and to allow the heather a chance to grow. This is important work as good quality coastal heathland is rare. This is a challenging task as it can only be done in late winter when the weather is suitable.
  • Preservation of hill forts
This area has four Iron Age hill forts which are of historical importance. There has been survey work to establish the forts' history and to preserve them for the future. Our management involves cutting grass, but more importantly cutting bracken as the roots can damage the archaeological features.
  • What are we up to over the coming months?
Footpath improvements - Watersmeet valley
River, woodland and heathland surveys
Invasive plant management
Volunteer helping with woodland management
Chainsaw work in the woods
Volunteer helping with woodland management

If you are interested in volunteering with the West Exmoor ranger team, please get in touch with Ranger Dan (Heddon Valley) or Ranger Jack.