Twenty one DPA members and friends met at Drakeford Bridge on Tuesday 25th June for a walk in the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve (NNR) at Bovey Valley Woods, where Natural England and The Woodland Trust work together. The weather was overcast, warm and dry.
Drakeford Bridge is not easy to find for the uninitiated. The easiest way is from Bovey Tracey town centre, up the road past Parke (DNPA HQ), bear left at a junction, following Haytor and Widecombe, turn right at the next crossroads (Edgemoor Hotel), rejoin the previous road at a junction (bearing left) and watch for this road sign that is not far down the road. Just up the hill and around the corner, on the left, is the entrance to Yarner Wood.
Arriving at Drakeford Bridge it is easy to miss the entrance to the large car park on the left and drive on to the bridge, just out of sight (on the right) in this photograph. Hint – watch for the telegraph poles.
Starting the walk at the far end of the car park, we entered Pullabrook Wood – there is a nearby hamlet named Pullabrook. Not far into the walk, we see the signs of forestry operations, namely logging and wood-working.
Large stakes and tongue-and-groove boards are being made on site. Elsewhere there is a sign that says Japanese larch on the upper slopes of Hisley Wood and Western Red Cedar, Sitka spruce and Douglas fir in Houndtor Wood are being thinned out.
There are two sites here where timber machining is being done
The LP MM stone is a “new” Lustleigh Parish boundary stone set in place to mark the millennium, i.e. MM or 2,000 in Roman numerals. The stone is on the Dartmoor Way, this being a 95-mile cycle way around the edge of Dartmoor. This section is Old Manaton Road.
What can one say about the large lump of granite called the Pudding Stone? Not a lot, there seems to be almost nothing online nor in my collection of Dartmoor books. One writer noted that with a dusting of snow it looks like a Christmas pudding – but we never put snow on ours! The only sensible offering I have is that there is an old Ordnance Survey benchmark cut into it – the horizontal component of which is seen clearly in the photograph. The rucksack adds a little scale but a major question is, how did it get to be this shape – erosion in water? The stone is on Old Manaton Road and just past it is a track down to Hisley Bridge.
After the Pudding Stone, we descended to Hisley Ford – this is alongside the picturesque Hisley Bridge which is seen as a dark shadow on the right, in the photograph above.
We stopped for a while for coffee or whatevers at Hisley Bridge where the whole group seemed to enjoy the ambience of the place – the bridge is said to be medieval.
Hisley Bridge has an odd obstruction as seen in the photograph above, also a slotted gatepost to its side. The surface of the bridge is extremely stony. Apparently the post in the centre is a modern addition to stop off-road vehicles from destroying this medieval structure – they were “grounding” on it.
The location of the bridge on a sunny day is quite idyllic – a good place for a coffee stop, with two fashioned log benches and a memorial bench across the river.
Another view of the picnic spot.
There were a number of Holly Blue butterflies, Celastrina argiolis, seen on a reconnaissance walk, on the mud by the river at Hisley Bridge. Their caterpillars (and presumably their eggs) are found on Holly (in Spring) and Ivy (in Summer) while the adults feed on Bramble, Forget-me-nots and Holly.
It is surprisingly difficult to get good views of the river after the trees come into leaf.
There were several bat boxes set up in the trees.
Greater Stitchwort, Star-of-Bethlehem, Wedding Cakes or Addersmeat, Stellaria holostea, seen along the way.
While I was preparing to take this photograph a brownish-grey bird ran down the tree and fed the youngster. The wood is famous for its Pied flycatchers, so perhaps a female.
I’m calling this a shuttlecock form and its a Dryopteris, for now! I need to look more closely.
At first, I thought this was a Devil’s coach horse beetle. Then, I had advice it was a Violet oil beetle, Meloe violaceous – it was about 30 mm long and appeared to be a very long beetle, but oil beetles have overlapping wing cases: another Violet oil beetle link. The wing cases appear to overlap very slightly at the anterior end, also, as it was scurrying across the path, it did not display the usual Devil’s coach horse threat display, where the rear end is arched up and forward over the body, in a scorpion-like pose. Therefore, an oil beetle, advisedly of the violet variety?
May blossom, from a distance. This is hawthorn, with its lobed leaves, not to be confused with blackthorn: see HERE for the differences.
There is a very old iron road sign at the junction near Packsaddle Bridge.
Red campion, Silene dioica, is common in the hedges in this area.
Packsaddle Bridge, over Wray Brook, is just along the road from Drakeford Bridge …..
Drakeford Bridge presumably replaced an old fording place called Drake?
There is an inscribed stone in the middle of the bridge, in the downstream parapet …..
NB – the “4” is back-to-front