During April this year I hung up my Hills to Levels hat and joined the Headwaters of the Exe project team, taking on the exciting role of Farm Environment Adviser. The project has recently rolled into its third 5-year phase and I will be working alongside Adam, Rebecca and project partners. It’s an exciting step for me as I’m able to bring in my experience of soils, flooding and working with communities, while developing knowledge and our delivery work with landowners in other exciting topic areas like grazing management and use of pesticides and pharmaceuticals to improve water quality and biodiversity. To use a buzz word, it’s all about Natural Capital.

Ever since school I’ve been fascinated by how interconnected the natural environment is and how our actions influence these systems – whether positive or negative. When I joined FWAG in 2015 this was the first time I really felt I had the opportunity to work with people to make a tangible difference to the environment. Working on Headwaters of the Exe, this opportunity is even more apparent.

Last weekend, keen to familiarise myself with my new ‘patch’, I went for a walk around The Chains to Pinkery Pond which is the (dammed) source of the River Barle. Like many places on Exmoor there is an interesting history around the site. It was built around 1830 and there is evidence of an unfinished canal which was intended to be fed by the pond. There are no records of the purpose of these features, but theories include to transport lime to be used to amend acid soils, agricultural irrigation and providing water for the proposed Exmoor-Porlock railway. The landowner of the pond, John Knight (1767-1850), owned large areas across Exmoor and was involved in the reclamation of moorland to pasture-land.

After weeks of dry weather the moor was looking pretty baked. None-the-less, we enjoyed walking past vast areas of cotton-grass, saw lots of Orange-tip butterflies and stumbled across this rather impressively windswept tree (below), all to my favourite soundtrack of the skylarks. This very dry spell, following the persistent wet weather last autumn, winter and early spring is a stark reminder of one of the reasons that I do what I do. Climate change is happening, and we need to build resilience within our environment and our farming communities.