River Demonstration Site

April 27, 2010

This year the Trust opened its first public demonstration site to explain the successful river restoration projects.

The fantastic work of local farmers restoring the River Tale has been described in our demonstration site next to Clapperentale Farm on the Lower Tale near Feniton. 

The entrance to the demonstration site is through a small wrought iron gate, made by Matt Dingle, a Tale Valley blacksmith. This can be found next to Clapperentale Bridge. 

“the differences between the improved and the unimproved sections are dramatic.” 

The section of river upstream from the bridge has been left unimproved while the section downstream has seen coppicing and stock fencing installed to create a buffer zone between modern agriculture and the river. When standing on the bridge the differences between the improved and the unimproved sections are dramatic. 

Bear in mind if you visit this site that improvements like these can be found along many miles of the river corridor.

Because of these improvements more trout are seen swimming in the river, kingfishers have appeared for the first time in years, dippers can be seen chattering up and down the watercourse and evidence of otters frequenting the area have increased.

Indeed otters have responded so well to the improvements that one or two stocked fisheries in the area have suffered significant losses from the night-time forays of these illusive mammals. The Tale Valley Trust has given grants to two such fisheries to erect electric fences around their stock ponds to encourage the otters to focus on wild sources of food. 

At the entrance to the site you can pick up a waterproof booklet which guides you around the site and explains the various river restoration techniques employed on the Tale.

There are a series of information posts which describe specific habitat management techniques in detail and there are some fun activities for children and the young at heart.

Hidden along the trail are a dozen different animal tracks, from which rubbings can be collected and which can be identified in the trail leaflet.

The large bench by the site entrance depicts the life-cycle of the sea trout from the point where it spawns in the headwaters of the Tale, through to its adventures out at sea and its final return home to its native river to complete the cycle.   

The two large information boards adjacent to this bench, carved from a local cedar tree, form a puzzle with the same scene carved on matching boards. Visitors are challenged to spot the differences between common farming practices on the left board and the best farming practices adopted by local landowners on the right hand side.  

Our Trustees are extremely grateful to the following for their help in establishing the site: local farmers, local residents, East Devon District Council, Environment Agency, Escot Estate, Kirby Laing Foundation, AE Stuart & Sons, Viridor Waste Management, English Nature, Ernest Cook Trust, H&G De Freitas Charitable Trust, C&M Pike Woodlands Trust, Uffculme Environmental Limited, Westcountry Rivers Trust and the family and friends of Richard Kennaway who donated in his memory.

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