1. Second Tavistock Student Ranger Programme Completed

On Tuesday 2 April, our second team of Student Rangers completed their final day of the 10 week programme, tree planting with our midweek volunteer team and received their John Muir Awards.

The Student Ranger programme was pioneered by PC Julian Fry, and run by the Police, South West Lakes Trust and Tavistock College. based at Burrator Reservoir. It is aimed at students aged between 11 and 16 who have been selected for a variety of reasons, including having emotional or behavioural needs, difficulty engaging with other people and forming positive relationships, or otherwise identified as requiring extra-curricular support to build self-confidence, provide direction and develop their characters and self-esteem.

The 10 week programme has involved pupils undertaking a series of practical conservation tasks alongside SWLT volunteers from the local community, and participating in dedicated outdoor skills learning experiences where they have developed a wide variety of skills including survival and bush craft, personal safety on the moors and knife crime awareness.

“The Tavistock Student Rangers Project grew from an idea I had many years ago to improve the level and quality of engagement between Police and selected young people and it was through close cooperation with SWLT and Tavistock College that our successful application to the PCC’s ‘Connect to Protect’ funding finally made it possible for this to happen. It is really pleasing to see groups of youngsters coming through the Project, gaining life skills, practical conservation skills, achieving a John Muir ‘Discovery Award’ and breaking down any perceived barriers with their local police along the way. The project also gives me a vital opportunity to deliver key policing messages to the youngsters as part of the bigger ten week programme and to engage with the wider community at the open volunteering sessions.” PC Julian Fry

2. Tree planting for all 

Over March we have been enabling as many groups as possible to be involved in our big tree planting project in the recently cleared conifer plantation near Sheepstor Dam.  The aim is to plant 1,000 deciduous trees to create a mixed woodland consisting of oak, hawthorn, rowan, birch and hazel. Involved to date have been our weekly volunteer teams, Plymouth & Ivybridge Dove Project, DWP, Tavistock College, Devon & Cornwall Police, Active for Life, Assertive Outreach Service, The Vine, and our Family Wildlife Watch group.

3. School visits this spring

As the weather warms up, we have begun hosting our first school visits for the year:  ACE Primary have returned for 3 sessions to explore the outdoors and learn bush craft skills with our volunteer and survival expert Ian; St Andrews Primary School came for a Friday evening with their parents to develop their understanding of day to night time, including a night time habitat trail, ‘guess that sound’, cooking, and night walk; and several other schools have booked in for Forest School week in May. We will also be hosting a teacher evening in May.

4. Soggy feet syndrome reduced

Over the last couple of weeks our Monday and Tuesday volunteer team have been busy constructing a bridge and footpath across the notoriously boggy area between Longstone and Sheepstor Dam … very impressive!

5. So that’s how they predict the probability of a flood!

The answer to this and much more was explored during our most recent evening talk, including how the height of a dam is decided, why the overflow spillway is a certain size and other hydrological aspects considered in their design. Thank you Les!

April’s talk will be on Lichens where you will have the chance to discover the weird and wonderful biology of lichens and learn how to identify some of those common in Dartmoor’s woodlands, delivered by Alison Smith from Plantlife.

6. Friends and Families of Special Children

We were delighted to host a morning session for Friends of Families of Special Children earlier in March, and activities included constructing a bird out wood, letterboxing and outdoor cooking. Please come back and visit again soon!

Event Dates for the Diary

Evening Talks:

  • Tuesday 30 April 2019 – 7.30pm – 8.30pm – ‘Dartmoor is renowned for its beautiful and diverse lichens with names such as tree lungwort and string-of-sausages. Come and discover the weird and wonderful biology of lichens and learn how to identify some of those common in Dartmoor’s woodlands.’ by Alison Smith, Lead Community Scientist, Plantlife
  • Wednesday 22 May 2019 – 7.30pm-8.30pm – ‘Why ponds are wonderful havens for wildlife’ by Paul Martin, Education Officer, Devon Wildlife Trust.

Family Events:

Monthly Family Wildlife Watch Programme: 10.30am – 12.30pm

Come and take part in a range of wildlife and heritage themed activities followed by hot chocolate and biscuits. We will meet at the Burrator Discovery Centre, unless alternative meeting point has been advertised. £3 per child, £2 per adult (please bring cash as we don’t have online payment facilities). Please wear outdoor clothing and footwear. No booking needed.

  • Sunday 28 April 
  • Sunday 19 May

School Holiday Family Activity Days:  ‘Drop In’ between: 10:00am-3:00pm

Each activity day will involve a themed nature trail, woodwork, environmental art and outdoor cooking in and around the Burrator Discovery Centre. £3 per child, £2 per adult (please bring cash as we don’t have online payment facilities). Please wear outdoor clothing and footwear. No booking needed.

  • Thursday 11 April
  • Tuesday 28 May

For more information or to book your place on any of the above events, please call 01822 855700, e-mail: [email protected]  or pop into the Discovery Centre (PL20 6PE)

Practical Volunteering Days:

For all the days we meet at the Discovery Centre. Please wear old clothes and sturdy footwear, bring lunch and a drink and dress ready for ‘all the seasons in a day!’

  • Monday 8 April – 10am-3pm
  • Sunday 14 April – 10.30am-3.30pm
  • Tuesday 16 April – 10am-3pm
  • Friday 26 April – 10am-3pm
  • Tuesday 7 May – 10am-3pm
  • Sunday 12 May – 10.30am-3.30pm
  • Monday 13 May – 10am-3pm
  • Monday 20 May – 10am-3pm
  • Friday 31 May – 10am-3pm

Discovery Centre Opening Times:  10.00am – 4.00pm
Weekdays: Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

  • April: Sat 6, Sun 14, Sat 20, Sun 28
  • May: Sat 4, |Sun 12, Sun 19, Sun 26