The surprising change is the completion of a new fence at the old hockey club field which is leased by the Cricket Club. So now, once again, the whole length of the road to the Tea House has a long line of fine mesh fencing. If the dangerous wires of the old fence had been removed that would have been sufficient as one is not sure of its function. There was originally a gate, and the grass cut mechanically! This has since been removed so the field is now grazed by the ponies and goats.
We would hope that goats and cricket could co-exist. The Cricket club might modify its fences to protect the pavilion area from the goats. This would be a great step in the right direction. The Cricket club is one of the oldest stakeholders in the valley dating from 1876. Further up the valley the toilets have been renovated with easy access facilities for the less mobile visitors.
Finally, at the entrance to the valley, the controversial cattle grid.
As some kids have been seen walking across, it seems the modification to the grid sections on the left were not totally successful, . Raymond Werner, the Council's Goat consultant, Exmoor National Park and the grazier all suggested round bars and better still round revolving bars. Why then were the replaced sections were not of this type? Unlike sheep goats can flex the two toes of their split feet and can grip with them. The so-called 'Rogue Billy' group were all culled so there has been no long period to test if it works.
Outside of the valley, there has been some hedge laying done along one side of the cemetery. The grant for this also included funding for an unusual modern windbreak. This may also have the additional function of deterring the goats, which still cross the cattle grid or jump the fence, from entering the cemetery.
Unfortunately, there were no funds remaining from the Council's budget to renovate the Shelter at Poets Corner. As it is not goat free this is now cleaned by a volunteer. Unfortunately the shelters on North Walk are still the domain of the goats and unusable for humans
On Hollerday Hill there is now a 'show case' conservation clearance project in one small area.
Whilst the Butterfly shrubs (Buddleia) have been cut back the stumps need to be removed otherwise the newly planted trees will be smothered with the rapidly growing regeneration (coppice) shoots. Total eradication of the shrub on Hollerday Hill has not yet been attempted, neither has eradication of the Cherry Laurel (Prunus lauroceras). This too is a coppicing species and debarking by the goats does not kill it, unfortunately it just makes new coppice shoots.