Fingle Woods

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:

https://finglewoods.org.uk/

http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/wood/5663/fingle-woods/

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fingle-bridge/features/fingle-woods

http://www.finglebridgeinn.co.uk/

Horace the Alresford Bear 6/7/19

 

 

Fungi, hats & fun at Newark Park

Yesterday my humans took me along to a rather wonderful place owned by The National Trust known as Newark Hall.  We arrived early before the house and gardens opened so set off for a walk around the estate.  We started off walking through some splendid woods.IMG_8329

I decided it might be fun to hunt for some fungi.  It wasn’t long before I found a small specimen.IMG_8333

I became a tad worried when a dog came to say ‘Hello’ while I was studying the fungus.  Fortunately he soon bounced off to join his humans and didn’t try to pick me up with his teeth.  I have had incidents with dogs so I am rather cautious of them.

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The dog’s human stopped and spoke to us for a while, and pointed out a wonderful specimen of fungi called Dryad’s Bracket growing  far down a steep bank.  He said it was called Dryad’s Bracket.  I clambered down to take a closer look.IMG_8340

The brackets looked a bit like pancakes growing out of the tree.  I decided not to eat one.

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It was easy going down the bank to find the fungi, but climbing back up again was hard work for a small bear of short stature.IMG_8346

I got back to the path with a little help from my humans and continued along the marked trail.  When we emerged from the woodland there was an amazing view. IMG_8351

It was very peaceful without the sound of traffic anywhere; very calming for a bear used to living in the city.  We walked on through a valley where sheep were having some sort of meeting;  you can see them just above my right ear in the photo below.IMG_8354

After walking back through the woods I stopped to take a closer look at the fluffy thistle seed heads that were everywhere.IMG_8358

Eventually we came to a gate and found ourselves in the garden.  I stopped and had a little rest for a while and admire the view.  My little legs were starting to feel quite tired.IMG_8363

After continuing on in the direction of the tea pavillion (my humans are always on the look out for such places!)  we came across a special resting log for tired bears.IMG_8366

I managed to have a five minute ‘power nap’ then was picked up and carried in the spotty bag.  I was very pleased when I climbed out to find that I too had a ‘nice cup of tea’ to drink.IMG_8367

Refreshed by the tea I toddled across the lawn to try my paw at croquet.  I think perhaps the National Trust should get some smaller mallets for those of short stature as the mallet was considerably bigger than me.IMG_8377

I wanted to have a mooch about in the house as I had read that inside there were lots of swans and a dressing up room.IMG_8419

Once inside I got quite engrossed in a newspaper in the drawing room

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Everything about Newark was very interesting indeed.  After absorbing all the information I made my way upstairs to the dressing up room, where I found an excellent selection of bear hats.

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On going up another flight of stairs I was very pleased to make friends with some bears living in a delightful bedroom.  I stopped and chatted to them for a while.IMG_8408

My new friends told me that I should to go into the other bedroom to see all the swans. There were indeed many swans…

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Before leaving the house I had a look at the little room that used to house the toilet; the hole is still there.  I didn’t know that clothes used to be kept in toilets in Tudor times as the smell kept moths away.IMG_8417

As I left the house I was very pleased to see some bees collecting pollen to make honey on a big yellow flowering plant. I had a good look but was careful not to get too close as I really didn’t want a stung nose.IMG_8383

Before leaving to go back home with the humans I sat and just looked at the beautiful view from the garden in front of the house.IMG_8426

Newark Park is a splendid place for bears to take their humans (or vice versa).  I hope I get to visit again oneday.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/newark-park

Walking in the woods in the spring

Last week I went walking in the woods (though owing to my rather short stature, I didn’t walk to the woods but was carried there in a bag).    I was amazed at the beauty of the spring flowers, especially the wild garlic, which was growing in carpets all over the woodland floor.

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It was quite a warm day for a furry bear, though the woods are shaded,  I think the colours of the flowers added to the feeling of being somewhere cool, especially the bluebells.

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I didn’t find any large groups of teddy bears having picnics there though, in fact I didn’t see any other bears.  I will be going again as would like to see how the wood changes throughout the seasons, so I hope to be taken again in August.

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