August 2018

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Published on 28 August 2018

Celebrating one year of the Dawlish Countryside Park

Devon Loves Dogs waggy walk at Dawlish Countryside Park.

Tuesday 4 September 2018 marks one year since Dawlish Countryside Park was opened for the public to enjoy.

The Park has proved enormously popular with local people and visitors alike, boasting more than 200 visitors a day.

This natural, green space was opened for people to roam and relish, providing more leisure choices for the growing population and to help protect internationally important conservation sites at nearby Dawlish Warren and the Exe Estuary. 

Help celebrate the first anniversary at the Park on Saturday 8 September. Learn and have a go at the ancient and traditional skill of straw craft by making your own corn dolly and learn how to harvest barley with a scythe. Join ranger Jon from 1pm to 3.30pm. There’s no need to book, just come along to the ‘Coffee Curve’ bench on site, which will be signposted. It’s £1 per person and dogs are welcome. You can sign up your dog to be a member of Devon Loves Dogs on the day so come along and meet Julie for your free pack of dog goodies!

The Countryside Park is proving a big hit with the wildlife too. Ten Cirl Bunting pairs have made the Park their home. Skylarks were nesting in the spring barley which was recently harvested, leaving stubble as essential winter feed for Cirl Bunting.

Cath Jeffs, RSPB, said:

“We are very grateful for the hard work of Teignbridge officers to address the impact of growth on Cirl Buntings (a third of the national population of which live in Teignbridge). It has been hugely rewarding to see the commitment of officers to achieve a good outcome for wildlife at Dawlish Countryside Park.

“Teignbridge have made a significant contribution to the conservation of this still-vulnerable species and have demonstrated what other authorities should aspire to.”

The Park was provided through the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee (SEDHREC), a partnership of Teignbridge, Exeter and East Devon Councils. Forward-funded by Teignbridge, the partnership earmarked money from developers of new housing across the three council areas to pay for the 26.4 hectare site, the size of 26 rugby pitches.

Cllr Humphrey Clemens, Teignbridge’s Executive Member for Housing and Planning and Chairman of SEDHREC, said:

“This amazing green space, paid for by developer contributions not tax payers, is proving a huge hit with local people.

"It is a great example of partnership working between councils and it shows how each authority is committed to balancing the needs of people and wildlife by protecting important wildlife sites, at the same time providing much-needed homes for our increasing population.

“The Countryside Park has its own dedicated ranger, Jon Steward, who educates visitors about the environmental purpose of the site, its history and key features. The ranger team deliver engaging events, drawing on historic management techniques, culture and wildlife. Archaeological finds at the site have been reviewed and give an additional layer of interest for visitors. Local volunteers helped plant orchards including local varieties such as Devon Star, providing an additional learning resource.

“We can build on the success of Dawlish Countryside Park, and share our experience as we start to plan for the next natural green space alongside development at South West Exeter.”

Jon Steward, Teignbridge Countryside Ranger, said:

“Right from the off, this spacious Park has proved enormously popular with local people and visitors alike, with acres to roam and expansive views from its Ridge Path. We have made many improvements. The car park surface was improved to make it more accessible, we’ve installed 4 new dog bins to make it easier for people to pick up after their dogs without having to carry it a long way and we’ve planted traditional orchards with local varieties.

“Hay was cut as new grassland became established and areas of Spring Barley, grown without chemicals to benefit Cirl Buntings, ripened well in the hot sunshine.

“We have run a range of fun events including an orienteering challenge, Halloween Crafts and Wassailing the new orchard, with help from South Devon Community Choir. Thanks are due to the volunteers from neighbouring charity Dawlish Gardens Trust, who have worked hard to plant trees, mulching around 3000 trees and helping to build 50 tree guards for the orchard. More recently, they helped with green hay strewing to create wildflower drifts.

“We hope to continue to build on Ranger-led events and we welcome new members of the public to become involved as volunteers to care for this special place.”

Local people told Teignbridge what they think about the Park:

Nia with her 2 children and family dog, said:

“I moved into the neighbouring housing estate in May. The Countryside Park was one of the reasons we decided to move here and we come as often as possible.”

Alan said:

“I come here every day because I live nearby. Since we moved in 3 weeks ago, we have been coming twice a day.”

Kate, said:

“I come here every week. I love it because it’s so open and my dog Holly can roam free. It’s good because there are lots of dog bins. I enjoy walking up to the ridge where I can sit down and ponder and enjoy the views. This Park is much needed. It means we can avoid going to Dawlish Warren.”

With her 2 children, Fran said:

“We live on the new estate and we come here most days (we don’t have a dog). It’s really handy and it’s a great place the kids can run around. It’s quiet and today we’re having a picnic.”

There is a strong sense of community ownership of the site and local people have set up a ‘Friends of’ facebook group which shares their willingness to care for the site, encouraging people to be responsible dog owners and get involved with maintaining the Park.

Cllr Ted Hockin, Teignbridge District Councillor for Dawlish Central & North East Ward, said:

“I am proud to be associated with this park, a great asset for Dawlish and well used by locals and visitors alike. It is in an ideal situation being easily accessible from the A379 a superb amenity and I hear nothing but praise for it. As the town grows we need these additional facilities and this park is on the boundary of these new housing developments.”

Cllr Lisa Mayne, Teignbridge District Councillor for Dawlish Central & North East Ward, said:

“The popularity of this Countryside Park is growing day by day. It's a wonderful addition to the area. I have had nothing but good comments from residents that use it daily.”