Final call for entries for unique heathland photography project

Visitors to Woodbury Common near Exeter, and the wider East Devon Pebblebed Heaths (EDPH), have until the end of September to submit favourite photographs to ‘The Heaths and Me’ project, to illustrate what’s so special about the area.

The Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, the charity which manages the site on behalf of Clinton Devon Estates, launched ‘The Heaths and Me’ photography project in July to capture the spirit of the heaths and as a way to understand what the area means to different people.

Visitors are being asked to submit their favourite photographs which express why the heathland is so special to them. As well as providing an important social record, some of the images will also feature in an exhibition to be held next year.

The Trust is leading the project on behalf of the organisations involved in caring for the Pebblebed Heaths, including the RSPB and Devon Wildlife Trust.

Kim Strawbridge, Site Manager for the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, said: “During the coronavirus lockdown having access to open spaces has been vital both for our mental and physical wellbeing and it seemed a perfect time to capture what the heaths are about.

“As landowners, we know what makes the heaths special, with the diverse landscape, habitats for wildlife and historical features that are under our care. But what people feel about the Heaths and their connection to it is just as important. We want to celebrate the best of this beautiful landscape together with everyone who uses it, whether it’s our daily dog walkers or people who may have moved away but still feel a connection to the heaths. The Heaths have a special place in the heart of many, it has been a privilege to look through the entries that people have been sharing with us.”

The range of photographs have been wide ranging so far. One submission highlights the international appeal of the heaths as it has been sent all the way from New Zealand. Mary Garner shared the black and white image of a sponsored walk she took part in with her school in the 70s. Mary said, “I think we would have been about 13 or 14 when we did the 20 mile walk. It was a bit of a slog but a real sense of achievement at the end. Happy days!”

Another is Barbara Mellor, who submitted a number of her favourite views. Commenting on one image, she said, “After the nightmare of self-isolating, this photograph which I took in October 2018 looking over Woodbury Common, gives me that wonderful feeling of space and peace.”

Known locally as Woodbury Common, the EDPH are situated over 1,400 hectares of lowland heath and are located in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are not only a valuable recreational space, but also a protected wildlife site, with both UK and European designations, including a Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

A selection of entries are on display on an online gallery for people to enjoy. The pictures for the final exhibition will be chosen by Andy Thatcher, who is studying for a Masters in Photography at Falmouth University and volunteers with the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.

Andy explained: “I’m looking for images that show what it’s really like to be out on the heaths and that capture the stories behind what makes it such a special place. Photos that say the most don’t need to be technically perfect, we want to inspire people to think about the world around them and to share images that capture how they see the heaths.”

Andy will select a number of contributions for the exhibition that communicate something personal or tell a story. He will then add his own photographs and bring words and pictures together for the 2021 exhibition.

People are invited to share their photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #TheHeathsAndMe or by emailing mail@pebblebedheaths.org.uk. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 30th September.

For further details of the project visit: https://www.pebblebedheaths.org.uk/event/the-heaths-and-me/.

To view the online gallery visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/189734612@N05/sets/72157715522849846/