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Going Wild in Devon!

November 9, 2015



The trainees, back together in Devon! – © Amy Brocklehurst

A couple of weeks ago, the Wildlife Skills trainees went on a training week in Devon. Here’s what they got up to!

Monday and Tuesday – Sophie:

We arrived in Okehampton at midday, had a quick catch up with everyone and then got started on our training. Firstly, we had a useful volunteer management training session with Dawn from Devon Wildlife Trust. The trainees from the other counties than got a rest while we slaved away in the kitchen cooking a (very delicious) vegan bolognaise, followed by Amy’s Dorset apple cake and Rachel’s gluten free vegan brownies. By the evening everyone was well and truly stuffed – but Paul from Devon Wildlife Trust did a fantastic job of keeping us all awake with his brilliant presentation skills training session.

On Tuesday, Sally and Jane from Dorset Wildlife Trust gave us really valuable training sessions on communication skills. Sally delivered a Communicating through the Media training session, which included learning how to write press releases, tips for interviews and lots of other handy tips. In the afternoon Jane taught us about the importance of social media. The evening was spent giving dreaded presentations… which actually turned out to be really fun! It was a fantastic chance to learn about what all the other trainees are doing, and what they’re interested in!

Wednesday – Amy:

Burning some brash at Meeth - © Amy Brocklehurst

Burning some brash at Meeth – © Amy Brocklehurst

On Wednesday we finally got the chance to spend the majority of our time outside! Though the weather wasn’t entirely cooperative, we headed out to the Meeth Quarry nature reserve where we helped to clear some gorse and willow and entertained ourselves with a massive bonfire to burn it! Not short of a few ember holes in our coats, we then went for a walk through the reserve exploring the different habitats around the quarry, helpfully guided by Devon trainees David and Charley. We also walked along a beautiful wooded part of the Tarka Trail and met some of the ponies that perform a crucial conservation service by grazing the land. Feeling refreshed, we then returned for dinner and had an evening session in occupational health training.

Devon trainee Charley giving us the guided tour! - © Amy Brocklehurst

Devon trainee Charley giving us the guided tour! – © Amy Brocklehurst

Thursday – Jack:

Following some morning yoga, we started the day with advanced risk assessment training. Then, at lunch, I was presented with a caterpillar cake for my birthday! I’ve realised you can never be too old for caterpillar cake!

No birthday is complete without a caterpillar cake! - © Rachel Janes

No birthday is complete without a caterpillar cake! – © Rachel Janes

After lunch, we had a story telling master class with Chris Salisbury from WildWise. We sat around a crackling fire to listen to his first tale, accompanied by soothing tones of a ‘tongue drum’, something which needs to be heard to be believed… 

Chris challenged us to many different games, including telling tales about a stick (our stick went from being the wood used to craft Harry Potter’s wand to a face rest!) and creating lies about woodland objects, producing many hilarious results! Following the workshop, we walked along the river, admiring the beautiful waterfalls and woodland of Dartmoor, before returning for another wonderful dinner cooked by the Devon trainees.

Transfixed by the story and the fire! - © Jack Bedford

Transfixed by the story and the fire! – © Jack Bedford

As the sun set, we huddled back around the fire and chatted about the week, which made for a great end to my birthday!


Friday – Christina:

Black-a-tor Copse - © Christina Bowdler

The mystical Black-a-tor Copse – © Christina Bowdler

On our final day we got to explore the rugged landscape of Dartmoor with a walk around Meldon Reservoir ending up at the National Nature Reserve, Black-a-Tor Copse. This magical woodland looks like it is straight from a fairytale with ancient oak trees growing up from amongst the moss and lichen covered granite boulders, a stark contrast to the boggy moorland we crossed to reach it. We got to spend some time exploring and soaking up this singular landscape but, like the rest of this week, our time there flew past and was over far too soon. Once we had made our way back down it was time to say a fond farewell to the other trainees and look forward meeting up again for our next residential in Wiltshire.

All the trainees at Black-a-tor - © Amy Brocklehurst

All the trainees at Black-a-tor – © Amy Brocklehurst

If you’d like to learn more about WildWise, visit their website here:

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