With the sun hanging lower in the sky, signs of seasonal change are showing at Fingle Woods. An afternoon glow lights up the first autumn leaves behind the inquisitive faces of a small herd of cows. These are the first cattle to be grazing this ground for many years, taking it back to a time when meadows were havens for wildflowers accompanied by calling crickets, butterflies and many other insects. It’s estimated that up to 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost since this patch of land was last grazed and this tranquil scene by the river Teign marks the completion of the first stage of reclaiming the meadow from a tangle of scrub and conifers.
Now the National Trust volunteers have completed the gates and fence it’s time for us to wait for the cows to do their work. Walkers are free to visit at any time and watch the wildflowers grow.
Words and pictures by Matt Parkins