Two new ‘bat trails’ are launched in Braunton as part of the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project

People in Braunton can now get closer to nature with the installation of a new bat viewing platform at the Beacon overlooking the village.

Visitors to the platform developed by Braunton Parish Council on its land can watch greater horseshoe bats flying past on their way to and from their roost.

It is part of the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project led by Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) and also funded by North Devon Coast AONB and the Tarka Country Trust, supported by Marsdens.

The viewing platform complements the two new audio description Discovery Pen ‘bat trails’ that have been created in Braunton.

The trails tell people the story of the greater horseshoe bats and the local area narrated by local bat expert Samantha Pickering.

At the official opening of the new viewing platform at West Hill on Wednesday, parish council chairman Derrick Spear said: “The funding provided has allowed us to create a fabulous viewing platform which allows the people of Braunton to get closer to nature. It also helps to enhance what we have on offer at the Beacon Nature Area on West Hill.”

Dave Edgcombe North Devon AONB, added: “The Discovery Pens will be available to borrow from the Braunton Countryside Centre and will take you on a tour of the village, encompassing a visit to the viewing platform, which is located on West Hill.”

The project aims to help secure the future of the greater horseshoe bat in Devon – the European stronghold of this highly threatened mammal.

Bat project manager Ruth Testa said by providing space for people to see the bats up close in their natural environment, it was hoped this will inspire them to take action to protect them.

She added: “Funding for the project has been provided by both the National Lottery and the Disney Conservation Fund, and without them we would not be able to help community projects like this one.”

The project is a five year partnership of 18 organisations, led by DWT. The aim is to work with landowners and communities to help raise awareness, improve habitats and carry out research programmes.

You can find out more about the work of Devon Wildlife Trust and how to get involved or find local events by going to www.devonwildlifetrust.org