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The Island is a beautiful stretch of land surrounded by the River Avon and is a short walk from the centre of South Brent. The Island was bought for the village by the residents in 1994 and is managed for the protection of wildlife and for people to enjoy.
This website is to help you understand the history and management of the Island and give you some idea of the diversity in this
special spot in South Brent.
Please do send us your comments, thoughts or ideas about The Island through the feedback form at the bottom of this page.
How to find the Island
Brent Island is located at OS grid reference SX695602 about half a mile north west of South Brent village centre (look at the left hand side of the village map above). Access to it is signposted to the left of St Petroc's church.
Please note that the lane leading to the Island is uneven in places and the Island itself is reached through a gate and over a bridge across the river Avon. As the Island is intended to be a place for wildlife there are no formal paths and the ground is rough in places. However the whole island can readily be reached on foot and some parts of it by pushchairs and mobility scooters. Dogs are welcome but please do keep them under control and clear up afterwards (plastic bags are provided by the gate).
There is limited parking by the church but there is a free public car park on Station Yard.
Join Brent Island Trust and help to protect and manage this special space.
Maintenance of The Island includes costly major projects such as restoration of the linhay and weir through to maintenance such as replacement slates on the linhay roof and also regular tree work to remove dead branches and mowing the meadow each year. By becoming a member you'll help to ensure that The Island is always available as a space for wildlife and for peace for Brent residents and visitors. You'll also be able to attend the AGM each year which features a guest speaker.
Membership: Individual - £6.00 Family - £10.00 Junior - £2.00. You can request a membership form by contacting us via the form at the bottom of this page.
What a way to celebrate 25 years!
A big thank you to all our members and friends for the tremendous support you gave to the Trust’s Silver Jubilee Fair on The Island on Saturday 8th June. All the hard work of setting up marquees, ordering supplies of food and drink and the 101 other jobs to be done before the day paid off magnificently. Hundreds of people braved the showers, and enjoyed the sunshine, to make the event a tremendous success. The fair was opened by naturalist and broadcaster Kelvin Boot, who performed the original opening of The Island in June 1994. He shared the honours with Bridie Kennerley, who was also at the opening, 25 years ago, but as a baby of just a few days old. By a quirk of fate they now work together at Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
Visitors were able to enjoy the host of information stands on show, including many from wildlife and countryside groups such as Dartmoor National Park Authority, Devon Wildlife Trust, Brent Birders, Sustainable South Brent and Devon Moth Group. Brent Island Trust mounted a display of our work over the past 25 years, while eager youngsters were able to study some of the aquatic life in the River Avon in samples taken by the Westcountry Rivers Trust. Our thanks to all those who worked to provide refreshments, including the ladies of the Women’s Institute, who ran the cream tea tent, and the many helpers with the barbecue, the bar and ice cream stall. Fair-goers were entertained throughout the afternoon by a variety of musical groups, organised by Ursula Reid-Robertson. A lot of people devoted a great deal of time and energy to organising the event, but the biggest vote of thanks must go to former Chairman Mike Roberts, for masterminding the fair.
As part of the celebrations we produced a booklet highlighting the history of the Trust over the past 25 years, copiously illustrated with colour photographs. These are highly recommended as souvenirs and can be bought for just £2 from the Village Shop
Here's Kelvin's opeining address .....
25 years ago a group of people had a good idea.
They got together to raise the money to buy these 3 acres ‘for the protection of wildlife and for people to enjoy’ 25 years ago they raised the £25000 necessary – in today’s prices that would be about doubled….I still think that is good value.
They fund-raised and probably begged, borrowed and stole as well, certainly they gained support from Dartmoor National Park Authority who are here today still supporting Brent Island. Devon County Council, represented by Cllr Margaret Squires today, also chipped in, as did South Hams District Council, and we have Cllr Rosemary Rowe, Chairman of the Council and Cllr Peter Smerdon, your local District Councillor, and of course these things never happen without the support of the Parish Council whose Chair Cllr Cathie Pannell and of course Guy who has been and remains a driving force behind the Island are both very much in evidence. Guy particularly has made a real effort today and has a new jacket – we do miss the terracotta
But hard as these groups worked and generous as those supporters were, there is always an unsung army of volunteers who have been giving their time and labour to make the island even better than it was at the beginning, The Linhay was rebuilt, with support from the Heritage lottery Fund, English China Clays and the Dartmoor Trust and what a resource that has turned out to be.
Improvements have been along the river too; so it’s a safer place, a more accessible place and a place for the community and visitors to enjoy, as far as the wildlife is concerned it has become a fantastic oasis.
Among that hidden army of volunteers many people over the years have been seeking and recording the species that live or pass through the Island’s variety of habitats: and it’s heartening to know that the Island’s wildlife is thriving when all around us we here tales of doom and gloom at the declining fortunes of nature. Brent Island might only be 3 acres but it is doing a great job, and these areas will become more important as refuges for wildlife.
So what do you have?
57 species of birds including the fabulous Hen Harrier and Hobby, and on the water Goosander, and Kingfisher
Half the species of bat, 10 species, recorded in Britain fly around here
…..that means there must be plenty to eat….there are recorded 40 odd species of moth and butterfly, many more to be identified and they are attracted by the plants, 24 grasses, sedges and rushes, 101 wild flower and tree species, 9 ferns, 23 trees and shrubs, 60 mosses and liverworts – lowly plants usually overlooked but a real sign of a healthy environment, 84 species of lichens including some species confined to the South West and rare even here and a whole bunch of mushrooms, toadstools and other fungi
It’s impressive this has been a great job, but it doesn’t stop here. I hope those that have supported will continue to support – small amounts of cash can make an enormous difference, and if you want evidence of that here it is. The Trust that voluntarily runs the Island for all of you, is always looking for support, encouragement, labour and enthusiasm – so get in touch.
What was a good idea 25 years ago has turned into a brilliant reality….great job, well done and hopefully see you at the next celebration, I might not make the Golden Jubilee, but perhaps the Ruby Anniversary, the 40.
Now I’d like to introduce Bridie, the First Brent Island Baby, and we now work together, what a coincidence. Bridie is going to say a few words, then we will declare the fair open.
A new lock on the gate to The Island
The eagle-eyed will have noticed that we have both a new split gate and a combination lock at the entrance path to The Island. This is to make it easier to gain access for people in wheelchairs, mobility scooters or for anyone who needs a wider gap than the kissing-gate gives. The combination is available to all members who have a need for special access and can be obtained by contacting us using the form at the bottom of this web page. Instructions for using the gate can be downloaded here or by clicking on the image of the instructions on the right.
Christmas Stall - Saturday 7th December. 10am to 12am outside the village store.
Foraging on The Island
In April this year a group of some 10 children and 10 adults made a trip to The Island to find edible plants among the profusion growing there. The panel to the right shows what they found.
The group picked a few things in a sensitive way such as wild garlic & nettles. They were mindful of the vulnerability of wild flowers and habitats which would be emphasised as an integral part of the activity.
Some of the plants are poisonous and could be very harmful if eaten and some people may have an allergic reaction to the sap of others.
Please do not collect these plants yourselves as this could severely deplete the richness of the habitat.
Ivy leaved toad flax – on wall edible raw. Quite bitter
Pennywort – salad
Herb Robert – named after Saint Robert – French Monk 1000AD – cured people of diseases. High minerals, vitamins. Heals wounds, mosquito repellent. Tea, salad (eat all parts inc roots).
Herb Bennet – (or Wood Avens) – rhizome – clove flavour. Used to flavour wine, ale & soup. Substitute for cloves (e.g. apple pie).
Golden saxifrage (opposite or alternate leaved?) - both edible. Bitter
Primrose, hairy bittercress...
Pink purslane – salad/cooked – bland so good base for salad with other wild foods. Can get bitter in summer.
(Ground ivy – young leaves raw or cooked. Was used prior to hops in beer. Tea – ear, nose, throat, digestion. Catarrh, sinusitis, glue ear. Many other uses. Astringent!)
Ground elder – garden 'weed' very invasive if in a garden. Romans introduced it. Raw or cooked.
Skunk cabbage (Western N. America – sometimes naturalised in UK). Rich in calcium oxylate – toxic – mouth & digestive tract feel like 100s needles being stuck in! Destroyed by thorough cooking – several changes of water! Tasteless mush!! N American Indian tribes use. Dried can be used as a thickening agent.
Burdock – biannual. Small roots raw, or larger cooked. Harvest when not longer than 60cm. More flavour when older but absorbs other flavours. Contains inulin (not digestible) a sweetner suitable for diabetics. Young leaves & stalks (remove rind) raw/cooked.
Nettles – iron, Vit C. One of most widely applicable plants, strength & support whole body. Eczema, astringent – nose bleeds or any haemorrhage in body. Good for blood.
Wild garlic (ransoms) – same health benefits as cultivated garlic although milder. Reduces high blood pressure & blood cholesterol. Bulb most active. Tonic to digestion – colic, wind, indigestion, loss of appetite. Asthma, bronchitis. Juice aid to waste loss. Externally – can help arthritis/rheumatism – stimulates circulation.
Cleavers – immune system, lymphatic system. Tea not food.
Yarrow – salads, cook, medicinal.
Dandelion – diuretic, potassium, general tonic particularly for liver.
Ribwort plantain – edible, mushroom flavour. Stop bleeding. Also diarrhoea, IBS, catarrh, cystitis, bronchitis, asthma…seed contains mucilage, swells up in gut acting as a laxative & soothes irritated membranes.
Holly – berries cause vomiting & diarrhoea. In past leaves for infectious diseases – malaria & smallpox.
Pignut – umbellifer (flower later) – but much smaller – up to 1ft tall, leaves fine & feathery like fennel. April small plants. Be careful of umbellifer family with leaves in 'fronds' like this (e.g. hemlock water dropwort). Flowers 1-2mm. Careful to follow stem down & not get poisonous bluebells! Pignut has brown 'jacket'.
Sorrel Oxalic acid so in moderation.
Variegated yellow archangel – or one of the dead nettles! Not certain.
Poisonous plants to be careful of: Yew, Hemlock Water Dropwort
Brent Island Clothing - be smart this winter!!
We have a range of Brent Island Clothing available to order including:
- Tee Shirts with Embroidered Logo (Mid Green) - £12.00
- Polo Shirts with Embroidered Logo (Mid Green) - £15.00
- Sweat Shirts with Embroidered Logo (Dark Green) - £22.50
- Musto Jackets with Embroidered Logo (Dark Green) - £45.00
(All of the above are available in S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL)
Baseball Cap with printed 'Brent Island Trust' text and adjustable headband (Dark Green) - £10.00
Polo and Sweat Shirts for children with reduced logo size.
Sizes to suit age ranges 5, 7-6, 7-9, 9-11 and 11-13. Prices available on request.
Your order will usually be completed in two to three weeks.
For more information or to place an order please contact us through the COMMENTS FORM at the bottom of this page.
Polo Shirt in Mid Green
Baseball Cap in Dark Green
Sweat Shirt in Dark Green
A Close-up of the Logo
Bryophyte Survey of Brent Island
Mike Ingram has very kindly carried out a Bryophyte survey of The Island for us. Bryophytes are the oldest living plants on earth and include Mosses, Liverworts and Hornworts. A previous survey was carried out in 1994 when The Island was acquired for the trust and it is interesting to see the changes in the last 24 years.
Below is Mike's introduction and summary to his full report which can be downloaded here.
" The species list is shown in appendix 1 and shows a number of 59 bryophytes (11 liverworts and 48 mosses) recorded in 2017 compared to 76 recorded in 1994. 24 species that were recorded in 1994 were not found in 2017 however there were 10 additions to the 1994 list. These were Eucladium verticillatum, Dicranum scoparium, Campylopus introflexus, Campylopus flexuosus, Fissidens adianthoides,Polytrichastrum formosum,Plagiothecium nemorale and Brachythecium velutinum,Fissidens taxifolius var taxifolius and Hypnum resupinatum
There is a diverse range of habitats on The Island available to bryophytes and the total list of a respectable 84 species for the site, combining both surveys, reflects the species typical of the habitats represented.
The most significant species in terms of rarity is the Many- leaved Pocket Moss Fissidens polyphyllus which although locally common on the River Avon is nationally rare. The large flattened shoots of this species can be found on rocks and banks in the river around The Island.
Whilst there was a lower number of species recorded in 2017 compared to 1994 it does not automatically suggest a worrying decline as species can easily be overlooked. However some key habitats that supported species in 1994, eg mature Elders, have now disappeared and some natural changes in vegetation may have made a few places unsuitable for some species."
Plagiochila porelloides (Lesser Featherwort) This liverwort produces distinctive “feathery” mats on sheltered streamside banks.
Orthotrichum pulchellum (Elegant Bristle Moss) A species that often commonly found on twigs.
The Nationally Scarce Fissidens polyphyllus (Many leaved Pocket Moss).
Please do send us your comments, thoughts or ideas about Brent Island using this form: