RINGMORE & KINGSTON
Coastal birding, with farmland and woodland
MANY REGARD THE South Hams as the jewel in Devon’s crown. The South West Coast Path here offers excellent birding and passes wildlife-rich Scobbiscombe Farm, an area known for Cirl Buntings. The farmland is managed for wildlife, with a stream that runs to the sea near Westcombe Beach and freshwater ponds that are home to dragonflies. Sky Larks (right) sing from above as walkers plod up the steep ascents. If the circular route is followed the inland stretch passes tracts of pleasing, broad-leaved woodland where we enjoyed the exuberance of a Song Thrush and encountered the mysterious ruins of Noddon Mill. This was consolidated by the National Trust in 2002 to prevent further deterioration. In 1841, the Bigbury Census shows that James Taylor was miller here with his wife, Joanna, and three children: Catherine, Edward and Jemima. A commercial directory of 1870 lists James Taylor as a miller and basket maker at Noddon Mill, which is perhaps an easier trade for an older man. The ruins stand testament to lives long-vanished, where wildlife now flourishes and makes the place vibrant again. SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE.