Introducing Lucy Alford – Exmoor Countryside Warden

Happy New Year everyone! My name is Lucy Alford, and I recently joined the South Wakes Lakes Trust team in August as the Exmoor Countryside Warden, based at Wimbleball Lake.

My role here, like the other countryside wardens have mentioned in their past blogs, is highly varied but mainly includes site maintenance; keeping the lakes safe to use and enjoyable to visit, as well as the conservation of the fantastic range of habitats, landscapes and wildlife at both of the lakes we manage on Exmoor: Wimbleball Lake and Wistlandpound Lake.

Having been brought up a stone’s throw from the “rival moor” Dartmoor, in Kingsteignton, nature, wildlife and the environment have always had a special place in my heart and have been an integral part of my life. I graduated from the University of Southampton in 2017 with a degree and masters in Ecology, followed by a year of volunteering for the Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust at Berry Head National Nature Reserve, where I built up my practical skills and gained the necessary tickets required for a job in the conservation sector. I had the incredible opportunity last summer to spend three months working for whale and dolphin conservation charity ORCA, sailing across the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, surveying the waters for cetaceans before returning to land and securing my position here with South West Lakes Trust.

I have already learnt so much, met many amazing people all passionate about the lakes and watercourses in the South West, and challenged myself with new and rewarding experiences in my short time at Wimbleball and Wistlandpound. During the last four months, I have cleared paths to enable and maintain access, mowed our lovely grassy areas outside of the activity centre to keep the site neat and tidy, removed young willow stands to open up stunning viewpoints and allow the anglers using the lake to fish without trouble – and that’s just the day to day running of the lakes! I’ve led pond dipping sessions for schools and made animal masks from natural materials, collaborated with Exmoor National Park Authority to help families learn more about our ‘Dark Skies’, and completed a whole host of conservation tasks alongside our superb weekly volunteer groups including coppicing and thinning woodland, maintaining the community orchard and looking after our wild flower meadow. Not much then!

 
 

As the start of the new season fast approaches, I am excited to continue my work on Exmoor, making Wimbleball and Wistlandpound the best they can be. Alongside Senior Countryside Warden Tina, I hope to be able to enhance the conservation of the lakes even further to encourage a greater, richer, diversity of species to call these lakes home, as well as to develop a team of survey volunteers so that we can discover more about these populations and their activity. I am particularly eager to see what butterfly species take flight in the warmer months, as Wimbleball is renowned for some of the rarer fritillary species. I would also like to better connect our local communities with the lakes to educate them about the amazing environment right on their doorsteps.

Whether you are soaking in the views of the moor and further afield, enjoying the vast array of wildlife, flora and fauna, taking a boat out to search for trout or simply taking the dog for a quick walk, there really is something for everyone at our Exmoor lakes – drop in and say hello anytime!

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