Steve Darling: Helping out with hidden Paignton paradise

Clennon Valley Lakes Photo: Friends of Clennon Valley

Clennon Valley Lakes Photo: Friends of Clennon Valley - Credit: Archant

One of the things that has become apparent during the coronavirus pandemic is the appreciation for the simpler things in life and a renewed sense of community.

Last Saturday, I visited Clennon Lakes and was shown around by the dedicated team of volunteers.

The lakes were created in the 1980s and designated a nature reserve with it being fenced off and paths created around the lakes creating a site for people and wildlife to interact.

The lakes were at a risk of being lost around 10 years ago and this group started to be formed with a concern for the future of the lakes and a team of dedicated volunteers has been built up, which is now shown in how well maintained the lakes are compared to state they were in before.

It was great to visit the Bay's finest wetland nature reserve and to get into the lakes with a pair of waders.

These lakes give a glimpse of what swathes of Torbay would have been like before development.

With kingfishers regularly spotted and rarely-spotted dragonflies in Torbay that can only be seen at this location, the group who have opened up the lakes to allow nature to regain a more diverse habitat should be highly commended.

Most Read

It is great that this group has been able to draw on additional funds from different charitable sources and increased a sense of community and wellbeing with people who help out with this hidden Paignton paradise.

Another area of Torbay which has seen a step towards supporting nature is the wildflower meadow in Abbey Park and flower beds across Torbay which our colleagues at SWISCo, our successor to TOR2, helped produce.

These meadows have been creating a bit of a buzz on social media with lots of you sharing images and commenting on how wonderful the gardens are looking.

Not only are the flowers looking and smelling great but they are very beneficial for our local natural environment.

Now the council has taken more direct control of its grounds maintenance services, we need to ensure projects to encourage wild flowers are not limited to our showcase gardens on the seafront but become a natural feature across Torbay where our verges are used to promote bugs and nature.

Keeping with the benefitting our natural environment theme, we have launched a 'Bin it or take it home' campaign which aims to cut down on the amount of rubbish left on our beaches and beauty spots.

When I am out sea kayaking across the Bay I will often come across the odd plastic bag floating in the sea that I will catch hold of and take back to the shore and be disposed of safely.

This makes me ponder on how easily litter from our terrestrial life can spill over into out oceans, even with good intentions.

One of the most common littering issues is litter being left next to full bins, rather than finding an empty bin or taking rubbish home for disposal.

This often results in the litter getting caught in the wind and fouling our seas.

As a UNESCO Global Geopark, we all have a responsibility to maintain our designation and all do our bit to prevent land, aquatic and marine pollution.

Cllr Maggi Douglas-Dunbar, the Worshipful Mayor of Torbay, has recently launched the Mayor's Special Recognition Awards.

Inspired by stories of young people as they responded to the coronavirus lockdown, the awards will celebrate individual young people across Torbay who are making a difference in their local community or to the environment.

Young people up to the age of 25 will be eligible for the award, with winners being announced on a monthly basis.

You can nominate people at