Saturday, 21 September 2013

Mutter's Moor 'under threat'..................................... Sidmouth in Bloom meeting: Monday 23rd Sept

This was the headline on the front page of this week's Herald brought to wider attention the "bid to open up beauty spot to 'all traffic'."
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Mutter's Moor is "an outstanding example of lowland heath:"

Mutter's Moor

mutVIEW.jpg (41216 bytes)clinton2.gif (1546 bytes)

Mutter's Moor is situated on top of a steep hill.   To the east it overlooks the Regency seaside town of Sidmouth.  To the west the Otter Valley stretches beneath with views to Woodbury Common.  The moor is an outstanding example of lowland heath.

Such heaths have become scarce nationally and conservation of the remaining area is now most important.  The Heritage Coast Service, Clinton Devon Estates (the land owner) and the RSPB are undertaking a long term project to conserve this and other heathlands for the enjoyment of future generations.  The thin acid and stony soil supports plants such as a variety of heathers and gorse, also bracken and bilberry are found.  These host a wide range of insects especially moths and butterflies. 

The bird community is interesting and summer visitors include stonechat, tree pipit and the nightjar, a long winged bird which flies at dusk and has a chirring call which carries across the heath.  Ancient trackways lead onto and across Mutter's Moor and today there is a network of paths and bridleways which have been cleared signed and waymarked.  Public access to the plantations however is much more restricted.

mutmap2.jpg (216696 bytes)The South West of England is steeped in history and legend.  One story which appears to be based on fact concerns the infamous Mutter gang which operated in the area during the 17th century.  They were heavily involved in smuggling wines and tobacco from the nearby coastline. 

One of the extended family of Mutters became an agent of the government forces which were responsible for controlling and eradicating smugglers.   He was much despised by other members of the Mutter family and one night they murdered him.  They were not content with this and dismembered his body and even went to the extent of throwing the parts into the bushes for passers-by to see.

Mutters Moor

Sidmouth - Mutters Moor.

An unusual daytime observation of a male Nightjar churring at 11.25 am. I picked up the 'song' from about 200 yards and on passing a likely location was surprised to see the bird perched on a branch ten feet away.  Couldn't resit a quick photo before the bird took flight and it flew around uttering its 'krruit ' call and wing clapping.
This is a good opportunity to advertise Devon Birds' three Nightjar evenings scheduled for Stover Country Park (Sat 29 June), Hartland Forrest (Sunday 30 June) and Mutters Moor, Sidmouth (Wed 10 July).  Details in the 2013 Programme and shortly to be announced in the press.
Posted by Jonathan Ruscoe on Friday 21st June 2013 at 2:13 pm
Sidmouth - Mutters Moor. - Devon Bird Sightings - Devon Bird Sightings - Devon Birdwatching & Preservation Society

Devon CC profiles Mutter's Moor's geology and other features:

And excellent information from the District Council:
www.eastdevonaonb.org.uk/uploads/documents/ourwork/Publications/Mutters moor and Peak Hill.pdf

Clinton Devon Estates are responsible for the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths which, at 2,800 acres, is "one of the largest remaining areas of lowland heath in England."
East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Trust - Clinton Devon Estates

Management planning on Mutter's Moor - Pebblebed Heaths

There are concerns about proposals to "open bridleways to all traffic" as reported last month in Sidmouth Independent News and by SOS:

Smugglers are now less common than nightjars   in this special moor above Sidmouth.  By day, it’s  popular with walkers and wildlife .

But Devon Clinton Estates are disturbed by a recent proposal by Devon County Council to change the status of the Muttersmoor bridleways.

SIN has been told that DCE will object on the following grounds:
Environmental credentials
Public access issues (Horses, walkers, dogs)
Archaeological interest
County Wildlife site status
Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England
Royal Marines training

East Devon AONB,  Sid Vale Association,  Otter Valley Association and Natural England are being approached by DCE, to see if they, too, want to register objections.

For details of the proposal, go to  http://www.saveoursidmouth.com  
29th August  Changes at Muttesmoor ?  

This follows a request under the County Council's 'Definitive map review of public rights of way' for the parish of Sidmouth - from the Trail Riders' Fellowship:
There is an interesting thread on the TRF Devon blog, including this remark about the tracks left by trucks collecting timber:
"Clinton's" ... talk about pot + kettle no
did you see 192-127 a few months back when they were extracting timber out the nearby woods - 3 foot ruts made from giant tracks

The Herald article considers all points of view:

Mutter’s Moor ‘under threat’
Friday, September 20, 2013 

CONSERVATIONISTS fear a peaceful and popular Sidmouth walking spot will be ‘overfun’ with cars and motorbikes – if a proposal to change who can use it is backed.

They face a race against time as Devon County Council must consider a request from the Trail Riders’ Fellowship for a bridleway to become a ‘byway open to all traffic’ at Mutter’s Moor.

Sidmouth in Bloom leaders are keen to protect an area praised by international competition judges and want to prove public opposition before the consultation ends next Friday September 27.

The TRF is an organisation that works to promote legal trail riding as a way to ‘explore the ancient unsurfaced network of roads’. It made an application to change the classification of the bridleway in 2005.

Sidmouth in Bloom has arranged  a public meeting at Sidmouth Methodist Church to discuss the application form 7pm on Monday September 23, with a view to submitting a letter of objection.

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