Tamar Valley Community Star Count

The Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) team would like your help later this month, to observe and record the number of stars that you can see from your own garden, to help measure light pollution in the Tamar Valley AONB.

Space Odyssey 1Following on from the hugely successful Stargazing events at Buckland Abbey and Harrowbarrow last month, that introduced the idea of light pollution and showed participants what to look for when observing the sky at night, we are now looking for as many people as possible to take part in our Community Star Count. Our apologies if you were unable to book a place for Stargazing – interest was extremely high.

Sam Barnes, Helping Hands for Heritage Project Officer, explains, “The night skies are an important part of the character of the AONB and contribute to its tranquillity, but it is being affected by light pollution”.

Sam continues, “Only 11% of England still has truly dark night skies, as the threat of light pollution from our surrounding towns and cities increases. This also has an affect on wildlife by interrupting migration & feeding patterns”.

To take part in the Community Star Count, we are asking people to step outside on one evening between 11th and 20th December and let your eyes get accustomed to the darkness. Locate and observe the constellation Orion (full details of how to do this at www.tamarvalley.org.uk/hh4h) and count the number of stars that you see.

Everyone who submits their star count will be entered into a prize draw. Results will be available from the beginning of February.


Posted in Helping Hands for Heritage, News, Tamar Valley Blog, Volunteering | Comments Off

Discovery Trail Challenge supports Devon disability charity

Next year’s Discovery Trail Challenge, a walk along the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s long-distance route, will take place on Saturday 11th July and will raise funds for Living Options Devon.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, this registered charity runs the Countryside Mobility scheme that provides the ‘Tramper’ (all terrain scooter) for use by people with limited mobility, enabling them to enjoy the Tamar Trails. The group also offers a wide range of services and projects that support people with disabilities across Devon.

Diana Crump, CEO, Living Options said, “We are really thrilled to hear that we have been nominated as the Charity of Choice by the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail Challenge. The funds raised will make a huge difference to the lives of disabled people across the South West and we would like to thank everyone who is planning to take part.”

The Discovery Trail Challenge, now in its third year, and this year will be a 15-mile walk finishing at the Tamar Trails Centre.

Along both routes there will be refreshment stops, First Aid stations and transport at the end, to take walkers back to the Tamerton Foliot after the walk.

Becki Lumbis, Education & Community Resource Officer for the Tamar Valley AONB, says, “The Discovery Trail is one of the most varied and rewarding routes to walk in the South West. Many people enjoy walking sections of the Trail, but the full route can seem daunting if venturing out alone. This organised walk offers people the chance to walk the whole Trail, knowing that there is help or refreshment close by.”

The cost to sign up for the Discovery Trail Challenge is £20, but the Tamar Valley AONB team are offering an early-bird special of just £15 for those signing-up before 28th February.

To book your place, or for further details, please contact Becki Lumbis – 01822 835030, rlumbis@tamarvalley.org.uk


Posted in News, Tamar Valley Blog | Comments Off

Turner in the Tamar Valley Exhibition

Crossingthe BrookFollowing the discovery of new JMW Turner sketches of key iconic Tamar Valley views, and to coincide with the newly-released film, Mr. Turner, a Turner in the Tamar Valley Exhibition will be held at the Tamar Valley Centre, Drakewalls, next month.

The exhibition, including the new sketches, will run daily from Tuesday 16th – Friday 19th December, 10am – 4pm.

Local Turner enthusiasts, Dorothy Kirk & Di Cook, will give a talk on the evening of Monday 15th December, 7pm, revealing more about Turner’s journey in and around the Tamar Valley in the early 19th century.

Please call 01822 835030 or email bookings@tamarvalley.org.uk for more details of the FREE evening talk, and to book your place (donations welcome for Tamar Valley Community Bus).

Posted in News, Tamar Valley Blog | Comments Off

Is nearby heritage at risk?

long barrow

Join the Tamar Valley AONB team next month for a FREE training day to discover the heritage assets on your doorstep and find out why they are so important.

Learn how heritage is protected and recorded in the Tamar Valley, and find out the answers to these, and other, questions;

  • Should we remove ivy from our old buildings?
  • Is putting a roof on an old derelict building the best way to protect it?
  • What is the impact of farming on archaeology?
  • Is conservation and preservation the same thing?

Holmbush Whim Winter 2010_11 copyThe day is organised and funded through the Helping Hands for Heritage project. Sam Barnes, Project Officer, says, “This is a great chance to look closely at our local heritage features. Many are not statutorily protected, but are locally and regionally very important. We will find out whether these features are at risk and how volunteers can help with their management.”

The event will begin at the Tamar Valley Centre at 9:15am on Saturday 13th December, with an informal workshop. Local archaeology expert, Iain Rowe, formerly of the Caradon Hill Area Heritage Project, will be on hand to explain all you need to know.

The day includes site visits in the Callington area by minibus, refreshments and lunch, and should finish at 4pm.

This session provides an opportunity to work towards an AQA accreditation. For further details, please contact Becki Lumbis – 01822 835030, rlumbis@tamarvalley.org.uk

Booking is essential for this event as spaces are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment – 01822 835030, volunteering@tamarvalley.org.uk


Posted in Helping Hands for Heritage, News, Tamar Valley Blog, Volunteering | Comments Off

Discovering the Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley

On 8th November, 24 people joined Cornwall Council’s Senior Archaeologist Colin Buck to discover more about the fascinating industrial archaeology of the Tamar Valley AONB and World Heritage Site. Following a presentation on the importance of historic mining in Cornwall and West Devon and the significance of the World Heritage Site, we journeyed around Drakewalls Mine, Cotehele, Danescombe Valley, Calstock and Tavistock, learning about the conservation of industrial heritage sites and future plans for Tavistock as a key centre in the World Heritage Site.


The group at Bedford Square, Tavistock

More photos can be viewed on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/helpinghandsforheritage 

For more information on the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape Word Heritage Site please visit their website: www.cornish-mining.org.uk 

As part of the Helping Hands for Heritage project we will be running more training days and events relating to the protection and conservation of archaeology and heritage, to encourage enthusiastic volunteers to research, visit and monitor the condition of heritage assets across the Tamar Valley AONB. To find out more please get in touch with Sam Barnes, Project Officer at the Tamar Valley AONB by emailing sbarnes@tamarvalley.org.uk or calling 01822 835032

Posted in Helping Hands for Heritage, Volunteering | Comments Off

Recording our mining past – part 2!

Following on from the recent blog post from one of the volunteers involved in recording a former miner’s cottage in Cornwall, here is a brief report from another volunteer:

We received a good introduction from Robert, enhanced by background information.  Although surveying an outside privy would not have been my first choice, my co-worker’s expertise meant that we swiftly got to grips with recording every possible measurement, both inside and out! I guess the miners of old would have been highly amused at our work.  How many privies have received such detailed surveying?

I moved on to the Miner’s Cottage at the stage when the initial surveying had been completed.  We spent time identifying various intact architectural features and then moved on to small artefacts scattered on what remained of the floor of the first storey and in the ground floor room.  These were all mixed with general building debris and safety hats were a welcome essential.  These artefacts appear to tell a story of changing use, over the years; a piece of sacking adhering to a nail in the wall, pieces of a picture frame, a  large mirror, part of an ornate white china teapot, a set of metal stencils (for labelling boxes?) etc.  One fascinating artefact confounded us; a small rectangular ‘press’, about the size of an old fashioned mouth organ, consisting of a sandwich of alternating thin slices of metal and glass, clamped together and bolted between two wooden covers. We offered some guesses as to its function….

Overall, an interesting and fun day.


An artefact from the cottages; any ideas what it could be?


Posted in Helping Hands for Heritage, Volunteering | Comments Off

Tamar Valley AONB could benefit from project to reduce visual impact of overhead lines

▪       £500m fund available to reduce visual impact of lines in nationally protected landscapes

▪       Results of independent study commissioned by National Grid and other key bodies published today

▪       Stakeholder Advisory Group commissions feasibility study on power line crossing the River Tamar

Weir Quay area

Plans to reduce the visual impact of electricity infrastructure in nationally protected landscapes across England and Wales are gathering momentum, following a new study by National Grid.

A section of overhead line in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which crosses the River Tamar near Weir Quay has been identified as having a significant landscape and visual impact.

It is one of twelve sections of high voltage lines in eight Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks that have been shortlisted following an independent study overseen by leading landscape expert Professor Carys Swanwick.

The study assessed 571 km of National Grid’s transmission lines in England and Wales’s most treasured landscapes. It forms part of the Visual Impact Provision project, a major initiative to reduce the visual impact of existing transmission lines in protected areas.

The project will make use of a £500 million allowance made available by Ofgem* until 2021.

The protected landscapes which have been singled out as having existing power lines with the most significant visual impact are:

  • Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Dorset AONB
  • High Weald AONB
  • New Forest National Park
  • North Wessex Downs AONB
  • Peak District National Park
  • Snowdonia National Park
  • Tamar Valley AONB

Part of the £500 million allowance will be used by National Grid to mitigate the visual impact of sections of high voltage overhead lines in some of these locations.  A range of engineering measures could be implemented including the replacement of existing overhead lines with underground cables, the re-routeing of existing lines, through to the screening of substations or overhead lines from public viewpoints.

National Grid is now planning to assess the feasibility of engineering work to reduce the visual impact of the line crossing the River Tamar and will be seeking the views of local people and stakeholders.

A decision about the transmission line in the Tamar Valley and other shortlisted sites will be made in Spring 2015 following engagement with local stakeholders and further investigation of technical feasibility, economic, social, archaeological, environmental and heritage issues.

George Mayhew, National Grid representative on the project Stakeholder Advisory Group, comments: “National Grid’s electricity network is vital to our way of life, but this project will help reduce its impact on some of our most treasured landscapes. At the heart of the project is collaboration between National Grid, those organisations tasked with protecting Britain’s treasured areas and the people who live in and visit these landscapes.”

Cllr Neil Burden, Chair of the Tamar Valley AONB Partnership said: “We are very pleased that the Tamar Valley AONB is the highest priority nationally to start this feasibility process of reducing the visual impact of overhead power lines – with the breathtaking river views and the impact of the pylons and lines, this wasn’t a surprise to us!

“The River Tamar is one of the most heavily designated and important areas straddling parts of both Cornwall and Devon and is very special to local people and visitors alike. We look forward to helping National Grid with its stakeholder engagement and feasibility study over the next few months.”

Howard Sutcliffe, CEO of National Association for AONBs, says, “People are passionate about AONBs and care deeply about their future so we are delighted to be working with National Grid on their VIP Project. AONB partnerships are trusted convenors who make things happen, translating vision and national policy into local action and we look forward to being involved in the positive changes that will take place over the next seven years.”

A Stakeholder Advisory Group comprising organisations including the Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Campaign to Protect Rural Wales, English Heritage, Cadw, Natural England and the National Trust, is helping National Grid to identify which transmission lines should be prioritised and how the fund should be allocated.

National Grid is also set to use part of the £500 million allocation for smaller localised visual improvement projects which can be accessed by all AONBs and National Parks with existing National Grid electricity infrastructure.

Set to be launched in 2015, this landscape enhancement initiative has an ambition to provide up to £24 million over six years. The aim will be to reduce the visual impact of National Grid’s existing infrastructure and improve the related visual quality of the landscape.

More information about the Visual Impact Provision project can be found at: www.nationalgrid.com/vip







Posted in News, Tamar Valley Blog | Comments Off

Recording our mining past…

At the end of October 2014 a small group of volunteers helped the East Cornwall Mining History Association to record features of a former miner’s cottage. One of the volunteers gives a brief summary of the activity, which was led by ex-Morwellham Quay archaeologist, Robert Waterhouse…

“Come on down and get dirty”, that’s what they said? It was true I did get dirty but all in a good way.

I have just spent 2 enjoyable days with the archaeologist Robert Waterhouse working on a derelict former miner’s cottages at Luckett. Robert showed us all the aspects of drawing and recording all the timber beams and flooring in the building before the wood could be removed and stored away. We also had to photograph and number each item.

It was a pleasure to work with Robert who was very knowledgeable in his field of work. It was a real hands-on 2 days with Robert explaining how the tasks should be undertaken correctly; he would then pass the task onto you; you then had to show Robert that you understood the task and basically just get on with it.

Any items that we found on the surface had to be photographed in place and then tagged before they then could be removed and stored. When the room was empty we photographed all the walls, windows, two fireplaces and the doorway.

The best part for me was getting down and dirty. We got down on the floor with a trowel (just like Time Team!) and started to sift through the dust and dirt on the floor space to try and find any artefacts. I found one or two items but no Roman coins – sorry that was the wrong era! I found a doorknob from a cupboard, and a small metal plate from a cooker (we think?) and rusty nails and hooks.  My co-worker found lots of interesting artefacts when he had the task of cleaning out the fireplace.

I was not involved with the outside privy (toilet), but 2 other volunteers were tasked with recording with measurements and drawing a plan of the privy.

I must state that if you’re interested in any archaeological work on a training day its worth the time and effort.

There is a lot of work still to be undertaken at the cottage, an endless list with lots of work and time to undertake all the different jobs.

Posted in Helping Hands for Heritage, Volunteering | Comments Off

Fieldwalking at Tinnel

2014-09-27 11.22.31

Fieldwalking with a view!

On 27 September 2014 we were able to run the fieldwalking event – postponed from last year – with the kind permission of the Pentillie estate.

The field at Tinnel farm has a fascinating history, with evidence of an early medieval settlement around the surviving farm buildings. More information on its recorded archaeology can be found on Heritage Gateway. Earlier this year a Bronze Age axe head was found in the area.

37 people took part, and we hope that they have been inspired to return and take part and volunteer for other archaeological events. A selection of photos are on our Helping Hands for Heritage Facebook page.

The finds are currently being analysed and more information will be available very soon!

AONB HH4H Badge - vers 2 - finalHLF Logo Colour - Long Version




Posted in Helping Hands for Heritage, News, Volunteering | Comments Off