Summer families’ trip to East Shallowford Farm, 1-4 August 2022
What could be more exciting than eight families piling into two minibuses, heading to Dartmoor and four days away from London! For most it was to be their first experience, and they were up for new adventures on the moor, exploring the countryside, doing some farming and seeing what life is like in a very rural environment. After a good drive down, bedrooms sorted out, it was time to find out about the Devil’s Bit Scabious that grows on the farm land, and is the only habitat of the Marsh Fritillary butterfly caterpillar. This makes the farm a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). We found the plant growing near the river and marvelled at the wonder of nature!
Our first full day involved walking over the fields to help farmer Will wean the lambs which meant separating this year’s lambs from their mothers (ewes). First of all they had to be brought in from the field, then after being sorted, taken back out again to different fields. All went predictably well until the young sheepdog wanted her own say in the matter, and began to bring them back again! It was all put right again quickly with a few wry smiles and a couple of sheep to be collected later who had managed to get a bit further!
After that, we explored what creatures live at the bottom of the stream with Ellie, and it was fascinating to see how many there were, and to try to identify them.
The afternoon was an adventure up Bench Tor, and then down into the valley, finding an appropriate place to cross the stream. The sun shone, dazzling the quartz crystals in the rocks that so fascinated the children. We loved the views from the top, with hill after hill in the distance, and the river right down below, snaking its way along the valley. We revelled in the beauty of God’s creation.
In the evening we played party games as one big family, with very competitive teams!
Next day we visited the beach at South Milton Sands. We drove along winding, single track roads, before reaching the carpark in the dunes. The tide was in, but soon revealed sandy beaches, and rock pools with fascinating sea life to be found with the help of Nick. The weather was perfect for swimming and splashing about in the sea, and a happy time was spent in the scenic cove of this South Hams beach.
On returning to the farm, the children were ready to help with the evening’s animal duties. Then we had a barbecue in the garden, followed by a retelling of the parable of the talents and a couple of songs. After that there was the opportunity to set some moth traps and then go bat spotting with Ellie and the bat detector! We saw them swooping down almost among us which was quite a unique experience!
The time to return came too quickly for us all, and we said our grateful farewells and promised to come back soon. The last stop was in Widecombe for those precious gift shop souvenirs!