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Emsworthy Nature Reserve, Dartmoor is a wonderful place to explore.

Explore Emsworthy Nature Reserve on Dartmoor - Photo by Simon Williams

Explore Emsworthy Nature Reserve on Dartmoor

One of Dartmoor’s most picturesque and wildlife rich valleys has received a boost with the news that a set of practical improvements are set to go ahead shortly.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Emsworthy nature reserve sits below Saddle Tor between Widecombe-in-the-Moor and Haytor. Its mix of old dry stone walls, pasture, wet grassland and mire make it a popular spot for walkers, picnickers and wildlife watchers. Each spring the nature reserve becomes a stunning blaze of violet as several of its fields are covered in bluebells.

The nature reserve is home to remarkable and rare wildlife ranging from one of northern Europe’s most threatened butterflies, the marsh fritillary, to declining migratory birds including golden plovers and cuckoos.

However, in recent years pressure from cows, sheep and Dartmoor ponies has meant that areas of the nature reserve have become over-grazed leading to a decline in the numbers and range of wildflowers and other wildlife it is able to support.  

Now Devon Wildlife Trust hopes to remedy this. Help has come in the shape of funding from the SITA Trust along with a local donor. This is allowing the charity to undertake £38,000 of practical works which should ensure that the very special Dartmoor valley has a secure future.

Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve officer, Jackie Gage is overseeing the improvements which are currently taking place. Jackie said: “We’re delighted that support from the SITA Trust is allowing us to address the issue of over-grazing. We’re in the process of installing more than 4 kilometres of stock fencing which will keep cattle and ponies away from the most wildlife sensitive parts of the site. We’re also restoring 400 metres of dry stone walling using the skills of local craftspeople. Finally, we’ve been able to establish several new ponds which will be a real boost for the dragonflies and other water-loving species which already use Emsworthy’s boggy areas.”

Marek Gordon CEO and Chairman of SITA Trust added: “We are delighted to have been able to support this valuable project through the Landfill Communities Fund. This important source of funding has been available since 1997 and has provided such worthy projects with more than £1.2 billion.”

SITA Trust provides funding through the Landfill Communities Fund. Funding is available for projects that enhance communities and enrich nature.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Emsworthy nature reserve is one of 48 wildlife sites managed by the charity. It is open to the public 365 days a year and is free to enter. Kit yourself out for exploring Dartmoor with a new pair of walking boots or a jacket from Mole Valley Farmers

To find directions to the nature reserve and more details about its wildlife visit the nature reserve pages of   


Source Details

The Devon Wildlife Trust

Photo by Simon Williams

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