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Muddy meets Bird Eyewear’s founder, Ed Bird

Trust a guy who makes award-winning specs to have a good eye for lovely local places! The founder of the UK's first B-corp eyewear brand shares his favourite places for a West Country adventure.

When it comes to cool Devon brands, Bird Eyewear, founded by Ed with brothers Lawrence and Paul, is right up there so if you don’t know it, better get your eyes tested, pronto.

It’s not just Bird’s sexy sunnies and frames, it’s their earth-friendly ethos we love, which in 2020 saw Bird become the UK’s first B-Corp Certified eyewear brand for their commitment to sustainable materials. They’re still one of only five globally – impressive.

Bird have also committed to being a carbon negative company by 2025 and in 2022 introduced a new bio-acetate range, an eco-friendly version of plastic, made without crude oil and certified biodegradable.

Unsurprisingly, for someone so committed to planet-friendly business, Ed is keen on an outdoor foray, frequently exploring Devon and Cornwall’s natural places with his wife, Sarah and their two young sons, Felix and Fred, as well as enjoying cycling and kayaking adventures with his brothers.

Tell us where you’ve spotted on your adventures, Ed…

Shaugh Prior, Plym Valley

Pic credit National Trust

Here’s a beautiful walk in a steep valley, with a fern gulley and old oak trees and the ruins of the old china clay drying kilns – it’s a really magical place. We’ve been on countless walks and on a busy day you might meet maybe a dozen other walkers. If you make it to the top, there are great views out to sea and over to Plymouth Sound. It’s not buggy-friendly, but you can do it with kids in backpacks, or maybe an off-road buggy.

Slapton Sands

My wife, Sarah, and I spend a lot of time here with our two little boys, Felix and Fred, as Sarah’s parents have a house just a two minute walk from the beach. What I love most is as you drive in you have this great view that overlooks that mile or two down the stretch of beach.

It’s a pebble beach, with quite big round stones, so brilliant for skimming. Down at the end, there’s the tiny Torocross village with a shop, restaurant and a 14th century thatched pub, the Start Bay Inn, for fish and chips. It’s very family-friendly for a paddle and just hanging around.

It’s so picturesque, in 2017 we filmed our first ever Bird Eyewear film (above) at Slapton, and we used my green MG in the shoot.

Steps Bridge, Dunsford, Dartmoor

This is a tranquil walk right along the Teign Valley, which follows the riverside the whole way. We often go in autumn and winter, when the leaves are turning and it’s really pretty. An hour here and you feel like you’ve really topped on some peace. I’ve seen kingfishers here too. It’s just one of those wonderful natural places.

Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor

Pic credit Visit Plymouth

I think Burrator has a real Lake District vibe, at least it’s the closest you can get it to it in Devon! People come here to cycle and horse ride, and the walk is all flat, about three miles around and you can camp and get a permit to fish here. It’s on Dartmoor and right below Sheep’s Tor, but you’d probably want to do one or another. Great for when you just want to go wild.

Mamhead, near Kenton

When Exeter locals want a walk in the woods, most people tend to make for Haldon Forest but I would say Mamhead is just as good, if not better. It has an amazing vista of the Exe estuary, a far better view than from Haldon. It’s good you can get a coffee in the car park there now too, from Teign Bean.

The Old Hall Bookshop, Looe, Cornwall

We were looking for somewhere with vintage vibes, ideally in the south west to do a photo-shoot and this bookshop came up, almost by chance. It’s a converted 19th century chapel, nestled behind Looe’s main street. You walk up these old windy roads and come to this fairly unassuming bookshop. Inside it’s really quirky, labyrinth-like with sofas and old maps, antiquarian books and sailing books – I picked up a detailed map of Chicago in the 1930s.

The owners, Jo and Sam, who are well into their 80s, live either side of the shop, so they have to cross it to get to either side of their house. It’s one of those fabulous unexpected places, one of the last bookshops of its type.

Sam’s on the Beach, Polkerris

This beach is really nice – you park at a little car park and it’s a five minute walk down the road. There’s an old harbour wall people jump off, it’s small and family friendly.

Pic credit Sam’s on the Beach

Sam’s is a converted RNLI lifeboat station and there are old plaques and charts listing all the rescue missions, dating back back over 160 years. It was restored by Sam and Emma, who converted it into a restaurant. The food is great, with tasty things like seafood and pizza. The best seat is next to the glass wall with its view out to sea, especially when the sun is going down.

Cornish Mars/Wheal Maid, Truro

So called because it looks like a Martian landscape, this walk is on the site of an abandoned copper mine. It’s an astonishing landscape, with a red lake due to all the waste minerals, and it’s brilliant for adrenaline-fuelled mountain biking. It’s like cycling through an alien environment.

Want more from Ed and Bird Eyewear? Go check out their Salcombe pop-up on Thursday 4 August, 10am-4pm outside the Salcombe Gin HQ.

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