a drama out of a 50th birthday...
Wood on Dartmoor is taking centre stage, in its 50th anniversary
as a National Nature Reserve
Yarner Wood, on
Dartmoor, is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary as a National
Nature Reserve (NNR).
And, to mark the occasion, the wood - on the eastern slopes of Dartmoor,
south of Lustleigh and east of Haytor - is taking centre stage to provide
the perfect setting for the adaptation of a novel which has Yarner as
its central thread.
"The Forest on the Hill" was written by Eden Phillpott in
1912. It explores the themes of strength and weakness, and asks if the
survival of the fittest is the right way to exist.
Wood and the adjoining heathland covers 365 hectares on Dartmoor
When it was written,
Yarner Wood was used as a backdrop to the action. Now, it is to provide
the real-life backdrop, as well.
The adaptation is a collaboration between English Nature, which runs
Yarner Wood, and MED Theatre - a charity which is working to regenerate
community theatre in England.
From 11th May, 2002, the production is going on a tour of villages in
the area. Then, on May 18th and 19th, the performance will take place
in Yarner Wood to coincide with the 50th anniversary of it becoming
a NNR on 19th May, 1952 (see below for full details of the dates).
In all, the Yarner Wood NNR takes in 365 hectares of woods and heathland
- including Trendlebere Down, which was destroyed by fire in 1997 but
has since recovered well.
fire at Trendlebere Down was stopped right on the edge of Yarner
The wood features
mainly mixed hardwoods, like sessile oak, beech, alder, hazel and wych
elm. It is rich in lichen, and is home to birds such as pied flycatcher,
redstart, wood warbler and nightjar.
Yarner is ancient woodland, dating back many centuries. It was acquired
by the Nature Conservancy, and in 1952 it became one of the first six
places in England to be declared a NNR.
Then, a woodland
management programme was started, with the aim of turning the neglected
woodland into a vigorous and diverse one.
These days, it is managed by English Nature and is a Site of Special
Scientific Interest as well as a NNR. Luckily, the huge fire which devastated
Trendlebere Down in 1997, was stopped right on the edge of the woodland...so
an even worse disaster was narrowly avoided.
The matinee performances of The Forest on the Hill will be in a marquee
inside Yarner Wood.
The adaption is
by local playwright Mark Beeson, and features music specially commissioned
from Dartmoor composer, Gillian Webster. Children from the neighbouring
village of Ilsington are also taking part.
The Forest on the Hill performance dates:
Sat 11th May - Manaton Parish Hall (7.30pm)
Weds 15th May - Ilsington Village Hall (7.30pm)
Thurs 16th May - Lustleigh Village Hall (7.30pm)
Fri 17th May - Moretonhampstead Village Hall (7.30pm)
Sat 18th May - Yarner Wood (3pm)
Sun 19th May - Yarner Wood (3pm)
For details contact English Nature on 01626 832330 or MED Theatre on
Pictures 1 and 2 provided by English Nature