I was recently given the opportunity to take part in a special tour of Fingle Woods with The Woodland Trust. After parking the car we made our way to the start point at The Fingle Bridge Inn. I got myself a nice mug of tea and a flapjack and went and sat by the river Teign while waiting for the other guests to arrive.Once everyone had arrived we all walked across Fingle Bridge towards the minibuses that were waiting to take us around the woods. I paused for a while on the wall to look back at the view of Inn.I had a quick look at the map; the woods cover quite a large area (335 hectares).Once on the minibus I fastened my seatbelt. The bus travelled up a track past lots of conifers.We finally reached a clearing where the buses parked. Everyone walked a little way to the remains of Wooston Hill Fort that was built 3000 years ago. We were given a talk about it and about Fingle Woods. Apparently the last owners of the woodland kept 60,000 pheasants on the land which was not good for all the creepy crawlies (invertebrates) that lived there as the pheasants ate far too many of them. The view is spectacular. The guide pointed out two other hill forts in the distance.After getting back in the minibus and driving further through the woods everyone got out again to walk to an ancient charcoal burning platform.Before the conifers were planted oak trees were grown here and coppiced in order for charcoal to be produced.Conifers have been growing here for at least fifty years, but there are still some remains of charcoal to be found around the platforms where it was made.On the way back to the bus I came across a huge mound. On inspection I discovered that it was full of ants and was in fact a giant ant hill. I didn’t hang around!After another short bus journey going downhill we arrived at the bottom of the valley. There are 13 little streams that run down through the woods into the river Teign.The next stop was at a clearing where 3 years ago a strip of the conifers at the edge of the path had been felled in order to start regenerating the natural woodland. The ground plants usually present in a broadleaf woodland were all starting to return. The ecologists explained that although the area under the conifers looks dead, the soil contains many dormant seeds (the ‘seedbank’). When conditions become favourable, the seeds germinate and everything becomes green again. Eventually, over a period of many many years, they are hoping to restore the whole of Fingle Wood to a broad leaf forest.There were nesting boxes for birds, and dormice. I did see a few birds but I think the dormice were all asleep.It is a relaxing experience just to sit and listen to the gurgling and bubbling of water.On returning to The Fingle Bridge Inn it was time for lunch. There was a buffet provided for all the people (and bears) on the tour which was very yummy.After eating I had a look at the butterfly chart and spotted a butterfly that I had seen fluttering around earlier; I think it was called a pearl bordered fritillary.I also got to look at a couple a dormouse nests. The day finished with a chocolate brownie.
Fingle Wood is owned by a partnership of The Woodland Trust and The National Trust. It is a really lovely place to visit. The Fingle Inn is also a great place to have some refreshments in a beautiful setting.
For more information see the following:
Horace the Alresford Bear 6/7/19
Best to steer well clear of ants nests Horace.