Happy New Year Everyone

It may have been cold this morning, but it was stunningly beautiful as the sun rose over a hard frost in the Manning’s Pit fields. Let us hope that this new year will bring good news in our campaign to buy Manning’s Pit and keep it safe for ever.

The Winter Solstice

We started marking the Solstices and Equinoxes in June, and today is the shortest day of the year. We chose the closest weekend day to mark this Equinox, and yesterday – Sunday 20th December – yet again there were supporters walking round the fields from the moment of Sunrise until the moment of Sunset.

The weather was both good and bad, with beautiful sunshine plus heavy showers at times. The highlight was a perfect rainbow over Manning’s Pit, that curved down into the field itself so that an unsuspecting walker appeared to walk right through it. Because of the rain, and an old camera it wasn’t possible to get a photo of that fleeting moment, but it was indeed a perfect moment.

As at the other Solstice, John Lovelock was the first to start walking and the photograph shows him looking East towards the Sunrise. It was darker than it appears in the photograph.
John looking at a gap in the clouds where another cloud caught a touch of the light from the rising sun.

Following on from weeks of rain it was very muddy indeed! Here are some more photographs – sometimes it was raining too hard to take any.

Another of our earlier walkers
This was an attempt to photograph a running supporter who went too fast and was gone before the camera was out of its case!
Another walker sets off in a shower of rain

Then there was the beautiful rainbow….

This was just the beginning of the rainbow but shows the colour

This shows more of the rainbow but the photograph wasnt so good because of the rain and it wan’t possible to get a good one of the rainbow actually arching down into the field.
It was sunny again and a walker looks back from the bridge beyond Manning’s Pit after walking through the fields. This bridge is on the footpath that leads to Tutshill Woods.
Leo’s owner came with festive sparkly earrings – you can just see them if you look closely
Leo loves Manning’s Pit and doesn’t care how wet it is.
Another walker ready for the off… and the sun was shining again.

A couple of photos sent next are not uploading properly so until we fix the problem we’ll continue with the later ones. Dusk was approaching early and it was getting damper and colder.

John was out again – dressed in more festive style now_ and he joined Robin at the end of his walk.
It’s darker and colder and Richard and Katie are well wrapped up for their walk.
It isn’t obvious in the photo but we were holding candles (in jars) as the dusk drew in – and Carols begain to play from somewhere behind us in Lynbro Road to add to the festive mood.
Tim, our Treasurer, was the last walker to do a leg of the fields, and he too brought a candle with him,

We would have liked to make a special occasion of the finish, with mulled wine and mince pies and a bigger crowd, but with the news the day before about the new variant of the virus it wasn’t right to do that. Even so, as dusk came down on Manning’s Pit, and Christmas lights began to twinkle in the distance on houses bordering the fields (as well as some striking ones over at Anchor Mill) we were glad we had had our small socially distanced event. We all hope that this time next year it will be different. Until then our message has to be, keep safe, and keep your fingers crossed for our campaign and our hopes to buy Manning’s Pit.

A good way to spend lockdown…

Frost and fog on a November morning in Manning’s Pit

Going for a walk in Manning’s Pit is of course one way to cope with lockdown, and it can be very beautiful on a frosty morning. – but when it is dark and wet what better way of spending time could there be than writing a story to be entered in our new competition?

The Friends of Manning’s Pit are now launching their new Literary venture – the Saki Short Story Competition. Entries can be accepted any time after November 20th, and the last date for entries is June 30th, 2021. The Judges who will decide the winners are Sir Richard Eyre, James Lovelock and Peter Christie.

Read more about the compettion here: https://manningspit.com/saki/

A New Statement

As we enter the second lockdown we have put a new statement up on our website.

Here it is:

We have decided to call a halt to our fundraising efforts for now as we are able to access extra funds on top of the amount (£123,000) raised already. Thank you all for your magnificent efforts, every donation large or small has helped us on our way.

We remain in negotiations with the seller and ask you all to be patient as this is a long process. As soon as we have more news it will be posted here.

The donation links on the website remain live for the moment, but we are not asking for more donations at present.

The Children’s Poster Competition

With all the pressures of the Auction, this competition didn’t get the attention it deserved, but we had very worthy winners. Tansy Ward and Hope Gleeson shared the 7 – 16 years old Prize, while Jack Robery, age 3 won the under 6 competition. Well done to all of them.

Yo can see their photos and their posters on this page: https://manningspit.com/poster-competition.html

Window poster by Hope Gleeson, Joint First Prize winner.

Jack raises £561 for Manning’s Pit

(October 12 update – his fundraising page remains open and he plans to keep on walking, so you can still donate: https://buymanningspit.enthuse.com/pf/jacksfundraisingwalk )

As featured in this week’s North Devon Journal, three year old Jack Robery first came to Manning’s Pit with his mother, Marianne Hunt, about three weeks ago, and they fell in love with the place. When they heard Manning’s Pit could be sold and lost to the public, they decided to do a fund raising walk.

Here is Jack, entering Manning’s Pit for the first time through the Lynbro Road Kissing Gate entrance.

They set up a fund raising page for us about a week ago, and money came in fast. By around 11 oclock this morning Jack had passed his target of £500.

Jack arrives just after 12, dressed up in a Super Hero outfit, excited and ready to do his walk. Marianne, is just behind.

Before the start, Jack was presented with a prize by Friends Of Manning’s Committee Member Kate because he had also won First Prize in the 6 and Under Category of our Poster Competition.

Here he is, with his prize. More photos and information to follow. His fund raising page remains open and can be found here: https://buymanningspit.enthuse.com/pf/jacksfundraisingwalk

There were joint first prize winners in the older category of the Poster Competition. One of the joint winners, Hope Gleeson, wasn’t able to be there, but the other, Tansy Ward, came to receive her prize from Committee member Kate Shaw.

Here is Tansy, receiving her prize.

Jack was eager to start his walk, and he and Marianne set off down the hill towards Manning’s Pit bridge.

Going down to Manning’s Pit bridge

Marianne had also kindly donated a hamper of sweets to a Raffle so that each person who donated to Jack’s walk received one ticket into the Raffle. After spending some time on the bridge, watching the water rush by underneath – the river is higher than normal after all the rains we have been having – Jack was asked to pick a ticket out of the container. The owner of the winning ticket was Brian Mulholland.

Jack is about to pick the winning ticket out of the box…

Tansy and her brother Alex came down as well and the three children had a great time running around together. Tansy was only four when our campaign began, and now she is nine – let’s hope we have managed to buy Manning’s Pit before she is a teenager!

The sign Alex was holding up said something like: Jack, Manning’s Pit’s Own Super Hero

After the other children had gone, Jack’s grandfather turned up and here are the three of them:

Marianne, Jack and Jack’s grandfather/

We had thought this walk would be enough for a three year old, but it wasn’t enough for Super Hero Jack – just like our motto of Onwards and Upwards, he was soon up and running off to do a full lap of all the land that is for sale.

Here is Jack on the other side of the river, at the entrance of the rope swing field. Alongside him is John Lovelock, who did a sponsored walk for us back in January.

Our last photo shows Jack at the far end of the field, having finished a complete tour of the land that is for sale. Not a bad trek for a three year old! Let us all hope and pray that sometime soon this land will be owned for ever for the benefit of the wildlife and the people who love this very special place.

Marianne and Jack, at the furthest end of the field.

Jack has raised £561 so far, but his fundraising page is still open for donations, so please go it if you would like to add something more: https://buymanningspit.enthuse.com/pf/jacksfundraisingwalk

Or for more information about our campaign in general – go to http://www.manningspit.com

Prayers for Manning’s Pit

We have posted information about all the politicians from all the parties who have shown support (we value them all whatever party they come from) and we also thought it would be good to give a mention to all the local Churches and Church members as well.

The entrance to the 13th century Pilton Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin in Pilton. Benjamin Manning and the boy Hector Munro (Saki) both attended services here.

Nigel Dilkes and Marion Sanders from Pilton Church were partners in last year’s Environmental Exhibition and have been invaluable supporters all the way through the campaign.

The Rev Nigel Dilkes’ Display about the Plant and Animal life of Manning’s Pit at our 2019 Exhibition in Pilton Church Hall.

Other churches such as the Catholic, Baptist and Methodist Churches may not be based in Pilton, but many of their members have been terrific supporters as well.

So many people have told us that they never walk in Manning’s Pit without saying a prayer that it will be saved. We think that even the non-believers among us are happy to thank them for that. Miracles can happen, whatever your definition of the word is.


Sunrise to Sunset – Part Two

Apologies for being late putting these photos up – we have been so busy since the Auction, trying to raise more money, that we haven’t had much spare time for anything else.

The rest of our report on the event on September 20th follows below:

Here are the Gomez family, about to start their walk – grandmother, parents, children and family dog. They are great supporters and had been out delivering leaflets for us a few days earlier. This photograph demonstrates perfectly how much Manning’s Pit means to people of all generations. One thing we know for sure – however long we have to keep on fighting, at the point where some of us have to hand over the metaphorical relay baton there will be plenty of younger people coming along to take over from us.

The Gomez family

Next came one of the heroes of the campaign, Ryan Vowles. Ryan was the winner of the 18 and Under Category in the nationwide Inaugural Manning’s Pit Poetry competition. His poem Together remains so inspirational and here is a link to him reading it at the Competition Presentation evening. He also helped us launch the Buy Manning’s Pit campaign.

Ryan in the centre

Another star of our campaign to be out walking was Graciella Sillence-Dreyfur, who won a Joint First Prize in the CPRE Devon Painting Competition with a beautiful painting of the alder tree that can be seen from the Old Stone Bridge. Although just beyond the land for sale, this tree has become quite symbolic to many people as its setting would be so spoiled if houses were close by.

In the photo are Graciella (on the right) and her family.

One of the great things about Manning’s Pit is the fact that even when there are quite a lot of people using it, it doesn’t feel crowded. Even at its busiest – during lockdown – there was always plenty of space to isolate.

While we were there most of the day, we didn’t manage to take photographs of every stage of the Relay – and not everyone had the right kind of phone to take selfies.

Here is one though, which included – in the background – more campaign “stars” Asha Cartmell and her mother Pip, with their new rescue greyhound Paddy. Asha and Alena were in both of the films made during the campaign, and you can see Alena on our website front page, in the photograph taken with the developer’s representative. Pip and her husband Mark run the very popular Pilton Cinema, which has had to be closed during the pandemic unfortunately.

Our local Town Councillor Janet Coates was another person to do the walk, and she sent us a photo of her dog Misty instead. We have a photograph of her though from another weekend, posing under the Save Manning’s Pit banner that was hanging from the balcony of a house bordering the field. The banner has had to be moved since because the balcony railings weren’t strong enough to hold the weight of the banner when it became windy, but it is still up elsewhere beside the field.

The Smith family are in the next photograph, Karen , Darren and their father/father-in-law, as well as family dog. They are especially interested in the wildlife, and Darren told us he has spotted kingfishers down by the river six different times recently. Here they are, about to set off down to the river:

The Smith family

Finally – and much earlier than when we did a similar event at the summer solstice – evening came, and it was, like the rest of the day, a most beautiful one. Here are the Redif family, at the finish of their walk. They have been supporters from the very beginning of our campaign, and came to the first ever meeting we held, back in October 2015. Ty Redif (on the left) made the film that we linked to earlier (here’s another link.) The other person in the photo in the white top was simply someone out enjoying the evening.

Thwe Redif family finish their walk as shadows lengthen.

Finally, as the sun was setting, here is John Lovelock, looking to the West this time. John did a sponsored walk for us in January and raised over a thousand pounds. It was very, very wet and muddy then – how different it was on this day in late September.

A wonderful message just received:

Is ‘Mannings Pit’ a Pothole or a Paradise?
By Jane Gear
I have been totally mystified for a very long time now, by all the signs around the Pilton area saying ‘Save Mannings Pit’.
So I decided to go in search of this mysterious place, to see for myself what it is that so many people wish to save.
I embarked on a walk down through a wooded rocky path with a small ravine running alongside it.
Although I did find out later, that there is another all together easier way to enter this hidden place.
The trees lining each side of the shaded path, made the usual dappled patterns with shafts of brilliant sunlight cutting through the shade.
As I descended, not far away, on my left, was the constant rumble of construction work, as new builds were quickly nibbling into the beautiful rolling green Devon hillside.
As I reached the bottom of the path, the canopy above suddenly opened, and spectacularly presented a lush green valley.
A winding river lazily meandering through the green pastureland.
A huge tree stood between two bridges spanning to the other side of the water, one of wood, the other of stone.
The atmosphere was full of imprints, holding memories of past generations meeting in this special spot, enjoying picnics on the grassy banks , watching happy children giggling as they climbed from the chilly waters.
A rope swing dangled from a tall tree a little way further along the water, adding to the feeling of togetherness and fun that this place has seen.
Peaceful, natural, the way things should be, and always have been.
I met a lady walking, and she told me stories about Mr Manning, a local businessman who used to own the land, and a colourful character he sounded too.
His memory lives on in this beautiful place.
The ‘friends of Mannings pit’, in my mind are to be admired.
They are not swampies living in the trees, are not chaining themselves to machinery or stretching out along the road to stop progress.
They are acting in a positive manner, working steadily together with the same proposed destination in mind.
Trying to save Mannings Pit for others to enjoy.
They need enough money to buy a small field which cushions Mannings Pit from the ever encompassing construction works.
They simply wish to preserve this haven of latter times for all who live around it to enjoy, whether from the old housing, the new housing, or even further afield.
This kind of oasis is so very needed in these modern times.
Especially so, as we go through Covid, and re learn that such places are of even more importance to us.
We need green spaces, room to relax, run free, feel at one with nature and recharge our weary souls.
Re live our childhoods through the eyes of our children.
Watch our dogs laughing as they run through the wind.
We need places like this now, even more so than the generations who came along before us did…
I was very much taken with the beauty of Mannings Pit, with the feeling of community and togetherness that it represents, and would dearly love to see it saved for generations to come.
I truly hope that this space may be saved, that a generous benefactor may come forward, and be willing to add sufficient to the steadily growing pot, which would enable the friends of Mannings Pit to save this little piece of paradise for all of our sakes.
By doing this, the gift of beauty, space and enjoyment could be gifted for all those who wish to find it, before it is tragically lost to everyone forever.
Anyone willing to make a donation can visit https://manningspit.com or call 01271 376594 or 07812 704694 for more information.

This was sent by Jane to the North Devon Journal

One of the photographs Jane sent, off Bradiford Water near the Rope Swing, a place where kingfishers can be seen by those with sharp eyes.