Simon’s Piece – TIMBER!

Look closely at this super kitchen and you can see what can be achieved with beams cut from Douglas Fir trees grown in this country. Increasingly architects are designing buildings with wood rather than steel because of its much lower carbon footprint and long- term sustainability.

Looking back is sometimes a valuable exercise.

Here’s a piece from March 2020: This year is not the first time we’ve had to close the bridge, or faced extremely wet conditions, as you can see here in the winter of 2012, just as the bridge was being completed.

Piers’ Working Party Report April 2024

Looking back to last April’s Working Bee, it heartened me to see we were also dodging rain clouds on April 2nd 2023.

Stara Woods At War

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the UK was importing over 94% of its timber with supplies coming from the Baltic and the British Empire.

A Very Important Message to All Users of the Woods

Last summer the Stara Woods volunteers started to build up a brash hedge along the east river bank in Colquite Wood from our car park to the footbridge.

Piers’ Working Party Report March 2024

I’m feeling really grumpy! It must have something to do with the constant rain which is plaguing us at the moment.

Simon’s Piece

This month I am giving a plug for a recently published book by Data Analyst Dr Hannah Ritchie. ‘Not the End of the World’ is a really important book. For decades we have been bombarded with TV and media articles telling us how imperilled we all are by the many environmental crises and how hopeless we are at trying to solve them.

Piers’ Working Party Report February 2024

You will recall from last month’s report that we have a plan for both maintenance and conservational improvements in Stara Wood and this month it was the turn of maintenance.

A Short note from Anne January 2024

Apologies from the Stara crew this month. A combination of a festive working bee (or in other words less work more eating and talking) and very sleepy dormice, there is little news from your favourite conservation project this month.

Piers’ Working Party Report January 2024

Autumn with its storms now seem long past and as I write we are into an extended spell of clear, frosty weather. The New Year Working Bee saw similar weather which was a welcome change and with the river dropping from very high levels we had a chance to get into the woods and get busy.

Fundraising Concert

Wow! What a result! We had a great turnout and a lovely afternoon – and it looks as if we’ve raised well over £450, though the final count-up is yet to be completed

Simon’s Piece December 2023

Earlier in the year I wrote about the extraordinary May blossom on the hawthorn brought on by the hot spring weather. That seems a long time ago now, but all those flowers have produced a bumper autumn crop of berries, some of which are still on the hawthorn trees and shrubs.

Anne’s Comments December 2023

Thank you very much for all you do in organising the Working Bees, Piers – it’s of huge benefit to the woods. And we owe you a Thermos!

Piers’ Working Party Report December 2023

The 2nd December dawned clear and frosty so our intrepid group were well wrapped up. Our mission of the day was path clearing from the accumulated storm damage over the autumn. As we headed across the footbridge,

Stara’s dormouse year, november 2023

Our last nest box checks were completed in October but we hope to make one more visit to check that the boxes are clean and ready for winter. Any replacements will be noted so that we can replace them before the end of February.

Piers’ Working Party Report November 2023

Our book club (The Moorvericks) are currently reading a book that includes some discussion on philosophy and its influence on each and every day.

About the bridge again

Pete has had a conversation with a bridge inspector, answered questions that were asked and has sent photos of before & after the repairs.

Piers’ Working Party Report October 2023

Sadly, our last mid week mid month working bee for 2023 had to be cancelled – the rain had been coming down for a couple of days and the underfoot conditions were horrible – given the planned work was around the riverbank we had little choice.


AN ENORMOUS ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who has donated to enable this to happen, and more, as thanks to your generosity we will have not only reached our target but exceeded it

The Asian Hornet Alert – Jen Bousefield

There are wasps & bees & hornets a-plenty in Stara Woods, all part of the diversity of nature that enjoys the variety of woodland habitats that we try to preserve within the woods.

Piers’ Working Party Report September 2023

We had two well-supported bees in August – and the weather was kind and at last typical for the time of year. In the mid-week bee, we set to with hand and pole saws to try and clear the head of the chestnut tree that had fallen into the river last month.

A Very Fishy Story

There was great excitement in the woods in early September as the population soared by 3,000 souls in just one morning. Its that time of year when the young salmon, raised by the Lynher River Association are released back into the river, and our share swam away happily to find their own little hidey-holes on the 6th September.

A Note from Anne – Erosion and it’s Prevention

Walking down to look at the fallen Sweet Chestnut this morning, I was able to see more of the barriers that our workers have been putting in place to limit access to the river for most of the way along the stretch of footpath from the Stara Bridge entrance to the bridge.

Simon’s Piece August 2023

There are several very large Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) in Colquite wood and a number of younger seedlings on both sides of the river. It is believed that Sweet Chestnut was first introduced to Britain from southern Europe by the Romans.

Piers’ Working Party Report August 2023

It’s August and the river should be close to its lowest level as the summer sun blazes down and the water on the moor dries up – after all we still have a hose pipe ban, don’t we? So how come, for our most recent Working Bee, the weather meant we not only had to go to plan B but actually ended up at Plan C!

July Newsletter

to the willing workers who mended the broken plank on the bridge after it was reported. Here’s the work being done, and the result.

Piers’ Working Party Report July 2023

With 2 working bees each month and a 2 week lead time on writing this report I get a bit confused about what has happened and what I have already reported to you, so please
forgive any repetition!! 

Dormouse Report: Surviving Against the Odds

Back in mid-April when we began to check the dormouse nest boxes, we found our first dormouse of the season.

Simon’s Piece July 2023

High on Dartmoor is a small and isolated oak woodland known as Wistman’s Wood.

Looking Back – Poetry & a willing woodsman!

April 1st 2005 marked the arrival of Duncan – a very appropriate date, heralding several months of fun and hard work! Another quote from the same newsletter:

Piers’ Working Party Report June 2023

Since my last report we have had two very successful Stara Bee’s – its amazing how fine weather can make things go so well!!!

Looking Back – 2005: After the feeling, The re-planting!

Over the weekend of January 8th & 9th 2005 we began the daunting task of re-planting. Here’s the plea for help that we made, followed by an extract from the newsletter that went out after we’d made a start:

Special note from Piers’ & the Big Help Out

With the coronation weekend inconveniently fixed for the first weekend in May, our working party gave way to the Big Help Out.

Stara Woods Event Monday 8th May 2023

Monday the 8th May has been decreed a “BIG HELP OUT” day where our new king has requested that we all get out and do something to improve our local area.

The Big Felling Operation, Summer 2004

Now for something quite different from 19 years ago, The Big Felling Operation, Summer 2004

Laurence’s Working Party Report April 2023

At the last session (1st April) we walked the route of the proposed new zig-zag path (to be the Mike Todd path) and did some clearing (handsaws etc) on it at the top end on the old forestry track. The heavier stuff (fallen conifers) will require chainsaws.

Memories – Anne looks back to the first newsletter and the early management plan

The first newsletter came out in the summer of 2023, after we’d held a second Open Woods day and a Summer Solstice celebration. It contained the first attempt at a management plan for the woods,

Piers’ Working Party Report March 2023

Early March and the weather seems a little more typical after a strangely dry February. But we are still in that window for tree clearing so this Bee we were back up into Colquite to continue the work clearing seedling firs.

Looking Back To The Beginning

One of the few agreements at the recent UN Conference on Biodiversity, or Cop 15, was that all countries would protect 30% of their land for wildlife by 2030. This is an essential first step in trying to reverse the global mass extinction of wildlife which now threatens our own existence as natural and semi natural ecosystems, which include agriculture, start to fail.

Piers’ Working Party Report February 2023

At this time of year there is a window of opportunity when the weather starts to warm up but before the birds start nesting. At this Stara Bee we were able to don (with apologies to those who don’t remember Monty Python) “our suspendies and bras“ and become lumberjacks for the day! (I’m spending too long with that panto crew!!!)

Annual Dormice Report from Jen

2022, a good year for Hazel Dormice or not…? It will take time for all the national data to be scrutinised and comparisons made but locally, for the two nest box sites and at others in the Lynher valley, the answer is just one word, mixed. Numbers found in the boxes were slightly up in Colquite and all the dormice looked healthy so they may have bred in natural nest holes in the trees. But in Treovis & Broad Woods, we found just six compared to twenty-three the previous year. And there were no signs of breeding as there were in two sites nearby. My question was ‘Why…

Festive Working Party

Here’s some of the goodies ready for sharing after the workers had continues with work to feel smaller conifers to let in more light to the river in Broad Wood, and to be used to add to the defensive measures to protect the river bank from erosion. Meanwhile, Cathy was doing a ‘stock check’ on all the items in the tool store, necessary for insurance purposes, and we were setting up the all-important food table! Unfortunately, the working party had to cope without Piers, who was called to deal with another emergency, but managed to get back in time for some food and mulled wine! Here we all are: Sitting down together gave us the opportunity to review…

Piers’ Working Bee Final Report 2022

In the storms of late November an ash tree finally gave up the struggle against the multiple challenges of high wind, die-back and riverbank erosion. They always say mother nature takes care of her own and the tree fell just upstream of where we were working last month, so there was an opportunity to use many of the upper branches to help complete the fence along the riverside.

Looking back and ahead

MIKE TODD Just before our AGM last week we heard that one of our original Friends, Mike Todd, had died. Mike had been a supporter of Stara Woods for 20 years, an executive committee member, tireless at working parties, and instrumental in the construction of the Colquite pathway, setting up and maintaining the website and the rebuilding of the barn along, with many other contributions, notably the new bridge, that without Mike would not exist. We will all miss him enormously, and our hearts and condolences go out to his wife Julia and his family. RIP, Mike.   LOOKING BACK AND AHEAD As I write this, the last…

Piers’ Working Party Report December 2022

Firstly a thank you to those hardy few who responded to my plea last month. We still desperately need more volunteers but our numbers are increasing slowly – maybe the ‘please help’ message is starting to get across!

Rewilding : Be careful what you wish for…..

I took this photo of a bushy little Sitka Spruce tree growing near the top of Kilmar Tor in a crevice where the sheep can’t reach to graze it. 

Piers’ Working Party Report November 2022

The decision to go ahead with a working party or cancel due to rain is always tricky as illustrated this month

Summer of 22

After such a dry winter and spring, it was always going to be a tough year for tree growth. Most trees in the UK seldom root any deeper than a metre, and at Stara we have many conifers, oaks and chestnuts thriving on less than 300mm of usable soil.

Piers’ Working Party Report September 2022

The valiant volunteers met as usual and went to work on the copse of Western Red Cedar where Stara borders with Colquite and Colpit Cottages on the river’s east bank.


Some background: Stara Woods and the then surrounding woodlands originally formed part of a large estate, called, I believe, Carneddon*, part of the Duchy of Cornwall, and dating back to the original Duke of Cornwall, Edward of Woodstock, eldest son of King Edward lll of England.

An update on Ash Die-back

In Cornwall we are seeing the affects of ash dieback disease on a landscape scale. Infection appears to be worst in young and semi-mature trees but many older trees are now also suffering. They have been showing signs of infection for 2 – 3 years but they are now rapidly declining with dead or partly dead crowns. Dieback may be exacerbated by the drought which has put all trees under increased stress but there are now many dangerous trees standing close to paths, roads and buildings. Diseased ash trees are not easy to deal with, as the vibration from a saw cutting at the base of the stem…

Piers’ Working Party Report August 2022

Cleaning the bridge is not one of the most popular tasks the working parties face but it is very necessary, so thank you to all the volunteers who turned up in spite of the task at hand!!!

Piers’ Working Party Feb 2022

Over the last couple of years we have been working on the woodland on the east bank of the river up above the car park, known as Colquite Wood. We are blessed with some huge Douglas firs in this wood, some think the tallest tree in Cornwall is amongst their numberBut there is only a little light that gets through the canopy these monster trees create and it is in this twilight zone that we are trying to encourage native species of tree to prosper, so when the tall trees either fall or are cleared at some stage in the future, we will have a ready made native…

Woodlands and Rivers need each other

On many hills and uplands in the UK where soil quality is low, foresters have to bring in rock phosphate from Morocco in order to get their spruce trees to grow.  This is hugely expensive, expending enormous energy in mining and transport to help establish plantations.  Researchers in Canada found that salmon in mountain rivers contain a high level of phosphate which they have absorbed from the sea while migrating.  

The Woods in Lockdown 2020

    In response to the increase in visitor numbers, we have been busy looking at ways to improve safety.  Once you are over the footbridge in Stara Woods you are quite a way from civilisation so visitors need to take care to avoid accidents as in most cases, help will not be at hand. We have moved our notice board so that it can be more easily seen and produced a number of simple messages to help visitors stay safe and look after the woodlands.           We have also installed a lifebuoy and lifeline adjacent to the bridge to meet the requirements of…

‘Managing England’s Woodlands in a Climate Emergency’

We have received some very helpful advice recently in the form of a new publication from the Forestry Commission, which is a practical guide as to what we should do today, rather than trying to be too specific about what might or might not happen in the future.

Simon’s Article – August 2019

  “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare” Japanese proverb


You may already have started to see some notices in the woods asking walkers to ‘SNIP AS YOU GO’. This will help us with footpath maintenance, especially when the brambles are growing thick and fast. So I hope you’ll pop a pair of secateurs (and maybe some tough gardening gloves!) in your pocket when you go down there, & do your bit to help us keep the footpaths clearer for everyone.

Essential Bridge Maintenance 2018

During a recent routine inspection of the bridge, a major defect was discovered which required urgent attention.  Although not immediately necessary to take the bridge out of action, a repair was needed.  One of the main suspension cables was noted as almost touching the steel structure of the West pier which left untouched would have caused the wire to wear, eventually causing the wire to part and the bridge to collapse.  With this knowledge, the area will be inspected more regularly. to ensure emergency repair is not necessary and can be planned to coincide with better weather.

Stara Woods Update – Sept 2018

The working party have been busy improving some of the drainage in Colquite.

Stara Woods Update July 2018

JULY & AUGUST WORKING PARTIES   A good turnout in July saw work carried out in various areas: cutting back bramble from footpaths; repair work to the gatepost at the top of Broadwood; culling of ash saplings affected by ash die-back; work on digging channels at the Broadwood side of the bridge to deal with the problem of winter flooding

Building the New Shelter

With the loss of the shelter in the gales of 2016 a smaller but more robust shelter is being constructed. 

Stara Woods Update March 2018

Well, we really DID get snow in March, and how! I didn’t manage to get down to take any photos, but thanks to Stuart Dow who took these: