Chair’s Blog – June 2021

 In Connecting the Culm, National Landscape updates

As always (and even in these unusual times) there is a great deal going on in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

I’m personally much involved in the preparation for the Landscapes for Life Conference (the annual conference of the National Association for AONBs). It will be an online event (7–8 July), this year hosted by the Devon AONBs and each of these is preparing a virtual site visit. Blackdown Hills AONB’s contribution will major on our current flagship project, Connecting the Culm. The massive engagement in the project that we have enjoyed from the community suggests that many of you reading this will yourselves have made a contribution. Thank you.

I was asked and was pleased to do an introductory piece for the filming of the virtual visit. This meant an early start – 7:30am at Culmstock Beacon, for some shots of the landscape, a bit of Q&A, and of course an opportunity to enjoy the magnificent views. Next, via the Strand Stores Cafe at Culmstock for bacon butties and coffee, we walked upstream by the River Culm for a bit more filming in a different setting.

This was the location where several years ago, as part of our Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project, some tree planting and bank restoration had taken place. A lovely spot on a beautiful day with the daisy-like flowers of the river water-crowfoot looking splendid. However, I found that the tree planting had only partially succeeded, underlining for me the importance of hitting that target of ‘the right tree in the right place’. Worse still, the bank restoration work had been completely washed away providing a key learning experience as we continue to grow our understanding of the ways in which we need to work with natural processes in our aims to adapt to climate change.

While filming, I met a couple who were just about to set out for a picnic by the river. The gentlemen explained that this was where he had spent his childhood and was looking forward to reliving some of that experience. I hope that now summer has arrived at last that many of you are being able to similarly enjoy the wonderful landscape on our doorstep.

Ideas for places to visit in the Blackdown Hills

River Culm

River Culm

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