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.

 

The turning to Drakeford Bridge

The turning to Drakeford Bridge

 

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

Arriving at Drakeford Bridge

 

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.

 

Forestry at work

Forestry at work

 

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.

 

Forest product

Forest product

 

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.

 

The track ahead

The track ahead

 

There are two sites here where timber machining is being done

 

The LP MM stone

The LP MM stone

 

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.

 

The Pudding stone

The Pudding stone

 

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.

 

Hisley Ford

Hisley Ford

 

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.

 

DPA Short Walks group at Hisley Bridge

DPA Short Walks group at Hisley Bridge

 

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

Hisley Bridge

 

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.

 

Hisley Bridge

Hisley Bridge

 

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.

 

Hisley Bridge

Hisley Bridge

 

Another view of the picnic spot.

 

Holly Blue butterfly

Holly Blue butterfly

 

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.

 

Looking down the River Bovey

Looking down the River Bovey

 

It is surprisingly difficult to get good views of the river after the trees come into leaf.

 

Bat box

Bat box

 

There were several bat boxes set up in the trees.

 

Greater Stitchwort

Greater Stitchwort

 

Greater Stitchwort, Star-of-Bethlehem, Wedding Cakes or Addersmeat, Stellaria holostea, seen along the way.

 

 

No. 22 is occupied!

No. 22 is occupied!

 

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.

 

Shuttlecock shape of ??????

Shuttlecock shape of ??????

 

I’m calling this a shuttlecock form and its a Dryopteris, for now! I need to look more closely.

 

Violet oil beetle

Devil’s coach horse

 

At first, I thought this was a Devil’s coach horse beetle. Then, I had advice it was a Violet oil beetleMeloe 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 (hawthorn)

May blossom (hawthorn)

 

May blossom, from a distance. This is hawthorn, with its lobed leaves, not to be confused with blackthorn: see HERE for the differences.

 

Old iron road sign

Old iron road sign

 

There is a very old iron road sign at the junction near Packsaddle Bridge.

 

 

Red campion

Red campion

 

Red campion, Silene dioica, is common in the hedges in this area.

 

 

Packsaddle Bridge

Packsaddle Bridge

 

Packsaddle Bridge, over Wray Brook, is just along the road from Drakeford Bridge …..

 

Drakeford Bridge

Drakeford Bridge

 

Drakeford Bridge presumably replaced an old fording place called Drake?

 

 

Inscribed stone on Drakeford Bridge

Inscribed stone on Drakeford Bridge

 

There is an inscribed stone in the middle of the bridge, in the downstream parapet …..

  THIS1684
BRIDGEWAS
REPARD
BYTHE
COVNTY
NB – the “4” is back-to-front

Satellite map + GPS track

More photographs on the Dartmoor CAM web site