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Guided tour of Braunton Burrows dunes

14 July 2018, North Devon

Thirteen members enjoyed a comprehensive tour of this five square mile internationally important dune system with former NNR warden John Breeds and wife Mary, author of ‘Wildflowers of Braunton Burrows’.

Our circular walk began with a view across the Taw-Torridge estuary to 'unmanaged' retreat on Horsey Island. We then took in the shoreline around Crow Point where we saw developing saltmarsh, and active spur erosion. We ticked off classic strandline and fore-dune plants, such as sea stock Matthiola sinuata as well as several adult Mediterranean gulls, before venturing into the fixed dunes and Pebble Slack. Here we encountered the rare water germander Teucrium scordium. Discussion centred on the results of the historic grazing trials with Soay/Portland sheep and beef cattle (plant diversity increased). Despite the evidence, the land agent of the day would not agree to long-term grazing, which led to the de-designation of the NNR in 1996.

Returning to the start, there was even something for the history buffs; the Normandy landing practice infrastructure at ‘D Lane’. A thoroughly enjoyable, well-paced, wildlife-rich day led by two ‘dune doyens’!

Author and photos: Simon Bates MCIEEM, South West England Section Committee

Braunton Burrows

Braunton Burrows

Braunton Burrows

Top: the group explore the strandline
Bottom left: water germander
Bottom right: examining the pebble slacks


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