Terrific Start to Salcombe Yacht Club Rambling Season.
Published 10:50 on 4 Oct 2019
On a beautiful autumnal morning at the start of October, the Salcombe Yacht Club Ramblers started the new season in style with a clear blue sky and the sun shining on them. We all met, with a plethora of dogs at foot, at Oceans Restaurant on Bolberry Down for a stimulating cup of coffee where we were greeted by Emma Reece, the local National Trust Ranger, a fount of knowledge of all things ‘environmental,’ who led our Ramble. She was able to point out the salient elements in the exciting enhancements to the coastal strip between Salcombe and Rame, an Area of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) both the natural aspects and also the ancient man-made interventions over the millennia.
Although late in the season when most of the wild flowers have already seeded, the walk was inspirational with everyone determined to retrace our steps during the different seasons to view progress. A new tenant has recently taken the National Trust South Down Farm where we walked; the farmer is following the work started by his predecessor, determined to improve the natural habitat by restoring traditional farming practices for the benefit of overall well-being of the natural world, both vertebrate and invertebrate.
Emma pointed out that the farm is of particular importance for arable plants which are threatened by modern farming practices but hanging on in the unimproved thin topsoil of the coastal strip. South Down Farm benefits by having had no phosphate fertiliser and minimal insecticide use over the years. The ground here contains a rich and varied seed bank of rare and threatened species, ready to re-emerge with sympathetic farming management; we were told that the new farming practices have already started delivering spectacular results in the first year, mainly by managing the sheep and cattle grazing in line with the flowering period of the flora. Excitingly, this area has recently been assessed as a site of European importance for arable plants with some particularly rare species, now found almost nowhere else in the country, which are now saved for future generations in the Kew Millennium Seed Bank.
A two and a half hour walk, uphill and down dale (seemed more uphill than downhill funnily enough) gave glimpses of late butterflies, raptors flying overhead and tantalising glimpses of the pride of the farm- the Cirl bunting – once threatened with extinction and just hanging on but now flourishing here after extensive conservation efforts, which ‘twitchers’ come to view from all over the country, boosting the local economy.
A fabulous morning was brought to a satisfying conclusion by a delicious lunch at the Ocean Restaurant. Thank you Emma and the staff of Ocean Restaurant. Then we all went back to SYC for a delicious Steak and Chip meal cooked by the fabulous Jo.
Last updated 15:07 on 23 January 2020