Explore the BBC

28 October 2014
BBC Devon BBC Devon
BBC Devon Great Outdoors

BBC Homepage
» Devon
Going Out
Have Your Say
Sense of Place
Discover Devon
Family Friendly
Site Map

Contact Us

Moorland ways banner

Making a drama out of a 50th birthday...

Yarner Wood
Yarner 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.

Yarner Wood
Yarner 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.

The fire at Trendlebere Down
The fire at Trendlebere Down was stopped right on the edge of Yarner Wood

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 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 01647 221384

Pictures 1 and 2 provided by English Nature

"" ""

Sense of Place
We are building an online guide to Devon - get interactive in our Sense of Place section.
The latest weather forecast for Devon plus a 5-day look ahead.
Browse through our online gallery - you'll see Devon at its very best.
If it makes your blood boil we want to hear from you. Climb on your soapbox with BBC Devon Online.
BBC Devon
Broadcasting House
Seymour Road
(+44) 01752 234543

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy