A walk of coastal and es­tu­ary paths and mixed wood­land

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - SI­MONE STANBROOK-BYRNE

THE SOUTH HAMS coast­line is one of the many jew­els in devon’s crown. Vary­ing with the sea­sons, the coast can take the full force of south-westerly storms but in fine weather makes for more tran­quil birding. Just off-shore is the Great Mew Stone, which de­rives its name from the old English word for Her­ring Gull. It has a colour­ful his­tory, hav­ing served as a prison in the 18th Cen­tury, then a fam­ily home and later a smug­gler’s den. It went through sev­eral changes of own­er­ship un­til, dur­ing WW2, the War Of­fice took over. The MOD re­tained this tiny is­land as it was in the line of fire from their naval gun­nery school, HMS Cam­bridge, on Wem­bury Point. This was decom­mis­sioned in 2001 and the Mew Stone was sub­se­quently bought by the Na­tional Trust. It is now an undis­turbed haven for seabirds. The start of the walk goes through farm­land and passes Brook­ings Down Wood, a well-man­aged com­mu­nity wood­land where bird boxes have been in­stalled, in­clud­ing owl and wood­pecker boxes. Along the coast there are op­tional paths de­scend­ing to the beaches.



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