Hares on Popehouse Moor

Here’s a snippet or two from the wildlife camera, spotting some hares on Popehouse Moor in recent days. I love hares! A year or so ago we were lucky enough to have some leverets on the old manure heap. Lets hope the population is still growing.

Bees are buzzing in the old cob wall, Wheatland Farm

malehairyfootedflowerbeeThe solitary bees are back in action outside Ian’s workshop, where they nest in the old cob wall, in little tunnels. This brief clip shows a black female landing and entering. The main image is of a male – much yellow-er (image is from the USGS’s Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab’s photostream on Flickr – as I can’t get them to stay still long enough for a photo!). They are called hairy footed as they have distinctive hairs on their legs, which are used as visual signals during mating. Right now, the bees are busy visiting the early flowers we cultivate: lungwort, green alkanet, they even like aubretia. The flight season is only from the end of March to late May though. The females collect enough nectar to make a ‘pollen mass’ in each tunnel, onto which they lay a single egg. When we first came here a neighbour (a bee keeper even!) suggested we spray and kill them. But they’re never any trouble and to me it’s a real pleasure to hear them on the wing once more.

Swallows return, 2015

Swallows' return cake, 2015The swallows are back! An adult was swooping low through the farmyard yesterday at dusk. What a relief, we’ve been on tenterhooks ever since two were seen at ‘The Lymie’ 2 miles away (no, not spotted through beer goggles) last Thursday. Now we’re ready for this year’s cake….
We always make one when they return. The rule is that the first sighting on the farm (has to be verified by a second spotter, no cheating!) wins the first slice.

Swallows are so amazing. Here’s the video of them swooping through the hole in the barn door, shot back in 2013. We’ve fixed up the door since then, but still made sure there are gaps for them to get in and out.

Liz Swallow – we’re thinking of you and enjoying your namesake….
Alison T – I’m guessing this is another official sign of spring – I’ll look for a hash tag.
Brenda and Norman, our guests in Balebarn, we’re bring your slices round now any mo!

Devon Environmental Business Initiative board meeting

Last week Ian went to the Devon board meeting in Exeter (a train and bike ride away – apparently the helmet drew comment at reception). David Rose has joined the board from SW water, bringing his low carbon experience. We remember him from his time judging some of the Devon and South West tourism awards. He is also part of the Devon and Cornwall energy and environment management group, but his big task seems to be improving sustainability at south West water. He’s in charge of all their renewables, including covering the roof of Peninsular House with solar panels.

Awards were on the agenda for board, and spreading the word. (All the information is on the DEBI website http://www.debi-online.org.uk/awards. 27 September is the closing date.)

Th directors also discussed making the newsletter paperless and using social media rather than stamps and envelopes.

Next meeting is at Highfield Farm, Topsham (November).


Wheatland Farm to Hatherleigh Circular Ride

Detailed Route Notes for a 23 mile circular ride from Wheatland Farm to Hatherleigh and back. There are good places to eat in Hatherleigh, and a pub and cafe in Exbourne on the way back.


Wheatland Farm | Ingleigh Green | Monkokehampton | Hatherleigh | Exbourne| Splatt | Middlecott | Ingleigh Green | Winkleigh |Wheatland Farm


Approx 23 miles

Things to See or Visit

The pretty villages of Winkleigh, Monkokehampton, Hatherleigh and Exbourne (need provisions? you’ll be passing Winkleigh stores), gorgeous views to Dartmoor from the top of Hatherleigh Moor, The George in Hatherleigh (or a charming cafe) for lunch; Hatherleigh Pottery; a section of the Tarka Trail (on road), Exbourne’s real ale pub and community shop/Cafe; lovely Devon lanes, Winkleigh Cider Factory shop.

Route Instructions

At the end of Wheatland Farm’s driveway turn LEFT and bike to the main road (about 1 mile)

At the A3124 turn LEFT onto the main road and go a short distance round a corner and down a dip.

Opposite the sports centre, cross the road and take the cycle track running next to the road uphill.

At the top of this hill turn RIGHT through bollards onto a loosely graveled road.

At the next small junction turn RIGHT into the village, past the Seven Stars, Kings Arms and village shop.

At the far end of the village square go LEFT past the Post Office and follow CASTLE STREET road past the community centre / village hall.

Turn RIGHT at the bottom of this road onto EXETER ROAD, then SECOND LEFT onto HATHERLEIGH ROAD.

Continue out of Winkleigh. At FOUR WAYS CROSS go STRAIGHT ON


At the next T junction turn LEFT and over a bridge into MONKOKEHAMPTON

Turn RIGHT in the village, towards HATHERLEIGH (signed)

Continue on this road until you reach Hatherleigh. You will bike along the top of HATHERLEIGH MOOR.

Turn RIGHT as you enter HATHERLEIGH on PARK ROAD and follow this road around and into the center of town, where you’ll find The George Inn, or just down the street there’s a lovely low key but very popular cafe for lunch. There’s also a small pottery, which is well worth a visit.


Retrace route across the top of HATHERLEIGH MOOR but turn RIGHT half way across, at DECKPORT CROSS, heading downhill and southeast.

Follow this road past Upcott and Upcott Dear Park and turn LEFT to Woodhall bridge and Higher Woodhall

At a T junction turn RIGHT towards EXBOURNE.

Exbourne is a really pretty village, and worth exploring. The pub and shop are on High Stree in the centre and easily found.

When leaving EXBOURNE go back up HIGH STREET and turn RIGHT onto FORE STREET


Continue on this road through countryside until you reach a T.


Go through the hamlet of SPLATT and turn LEFT at the next junction, continuing to MIDDLECOTT FARM

At the cross roads at MIDDLECOTT turn LEFT and continue to INGLEIGH GREEN

At INGLEIGH GREEN turn RIGHT and you are back on the road to WINKLEIGH.

Continue STRAIGHT on at FOUR WAYS CROSS and into WINKLEIGH, perhaps detouring to the CIDER SHOP before reaching the village.


At the next T junction turn LEFT

Continue until you reach ZUKI’S Pizza place (blue cafe) at SECKINGTON CROSS

Turn RIGHT on the A3124

Take the next LEFT (Berner’s Cross)

You should recognise the route now, but if unsure, at the T junction follow the signs towards Chulmleigh (not Hollocombe).

Pass FIONA’S FARM SHOP on your left.

After a futher half mile, arrive at Wheatland Farm Driveway