The Higher Raleigh allotment site has a total of 45 plots and is located approximately 1Km from the town centre, towards the North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) on New Road (A39). Proceeding towards the hospital, the allotments are found set high above the pavement on the lefthand side, approximately 200m after the traffic lights.
The site overlooks Barnstaple and provides a wonderful panoramic view of the town. At the highest point on the allotment access path, it is possible, on a clear day to see Hartland point, some 21 miles away. Being South facing, the site enjoys maximum sunshine, but is very exposed and catches the prevailing South-westerly winds, so ensure crop covers and structures are well secured.
Growing conditions on the site vary, with the soil being medium to heavy and with differing amounts of clay. The plots close to the entrance gate have a good depth of soil but as you progress along they become more shallow and stony. We are close by to what used to be the main road to Illfracombe which is rightly named “The Rock”.
The plots are generally free-draining with no standing water, and because of this and the salty atmosphere, plots may dry out quickly, so add organic matter in the form of garden compost, manure, leaf mould or spent mushroom compost; this will help retain moisture. Demand for water is high so store your own using water butts. There are only 3 taps and these are not within easy reach of all plots. All the usual vegetables can be grown but consideration of the wind must be anticipated when cultivating anything of any height.
The site has little or no perennial weeds mainly due to active cultivation but does attract many annual varieties. We have a wide variety of birdlife, but the main winged inhabitants seem to be Woodpigeons.
Pests & diseases
Sowing and planting is best done early in the year so crops become established before any periods of drought. The bottom plots do have a problem with drainage during periods of wet weather.
Consider how you work the soil as the slope encourages soil to creep to the bottom, decreasing soil depth at the top of the plot.
The hedges and neglected plots harbour slugs and snails. There are slow worms and some hedgehogs. Also some visiting ducks which have nested in previous years.
White onion rot is present on some plots. It is a soil born disease so be careful about taking free gifts from other plots, mud on your boots and dirty tools.
Access & security
Access to the site is via Higher Raleigh Road and unrestricted parking is available just outside the gated entrance. The site is surrounded by security fencing, but this doesn't seem to stop intruders; but they are thankfully rare.