The DPA owns four pieces of land on Dartmoor. All were bought to preserve their special qualities. There are two areas of open moor (Sharpitor and Swincombe), one enclosed area of moorland and woodland (High House Waste) and one enclosed area of hay meadows (Pudsham).

High House Waste

Description: The land is bordered by streams on the east and west – Broadall Lake and the Ford Brook. High House Waste is within both the South Dartmoor and Dendles Wood Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Most of the site is grass moor or heath; there is an area of upland oakwood and two areas of valley mire on the east-facing slope. There is a ten-year management plan and a grazing tenant. There are two Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The northern newtake wall follows the line of a Bronze Age reave. There is a prehistoric settlement in the north-east corner and remains of a possibly medieval farmstead with approach tracks in the centre of the site. Although we have seen Dartford Warblers here in the past few years, there have been no recent sightings. The species has extended its range greatly in recent years and the pairs that are appearing in gorse habitat on Dartmoor are just part of this extension.

Location: on the south-west of the moor, near Cornwood. Grid reference SX610625. Area 57 hectares (142 acres). Access: There are gates in both the north and west walls, as well as into the woodland to the east.

Swincombe
Location: South east of Princetown, near the junction of the Rivers Swincombe and Brake, north-east of Fox Tor Mire and north of Childe’s Tomb. Grid reference SX 624711. Area 19.35 ha (50 acres).
Description: The land is unfenced open moorland, within the South Dartmoor SSSI.

Sharpitor

Location: near Burrator, to the west of the moor. Close to Princetown-Yelverton road, B3212. Grid reference SX 559704. Area: 12.41 hectares (30 acres). Access: There is easy access from the B3212 and from Burrator and the neighbouring area.
Description: The land is unfenced open moorland, and includes the summit of Sharpitor and surrounding area (a rough pentangle). There are five DPA boundary stones – one at each corner – as well as several lengths of reave and hut circles.

Pudsham

In spring 2016, the DPA completed its purchase of a small area of land on Dartmoor, the first new purchase for over 30 years. The land had been owned for about 20 years by Elizabeth Proctor and managed under an agreement with Dartmoor National Park Authority because of its importance as a traditional hay meadow. The DPA bought it, with the help of a generous legacy, to ensure its continued conservation. A few years late we acquired an additional field, now named Sayer’s Field, which we maintain a long with the rest of the meadows.

 

There are three fields and several small shelterbelt areas of Scots pine and deciduous shrubs and trees, centred on SX727743. The land lies either side of a farm track/bridleway running south from the road from Widecombe to Cold East Cross. We also own the bridleway. The total area is about 1.3 ha (3.2 acres).

DPA hay meadows at Pudsham

DPA hay meadows at Pudsham

All the fields are valuable wildlife habitat and the land is a County Wildlife Site. Pudsham Meadow (the first field on the left near where the bridleway leaves Pudsham Down) is very species-rich and, according to Dartmoor National Park ecologists, it is one of the best hay meadows in the National Park. The other two fields had been abandoned in the past but with the help of the DNPA ecologists and others, and the support of the previous owner, they are rapidly improving. The UK Biodiversity Action Plan identifies such fields as Priority Habitat, due to its dramatic decline over the past half century; they are now highly localised and Dartmoor has about 6% of the national resource – few as good as Pudsham.

With its diversity of wild flowers the meadows support abundant insects, including butterflies and bees – Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries have been seen nectaring. In June an orchid count by volunteers from Devon Wildlife Trust and the DPA found 742 Greater Butterfly-orchids, 1419 Heath Spotted-orchids, 1169 Southern Marsh-orchids, and 87 Twayblades.

For a leaflet with details of the hay meadows please click here

There is a regime of bracken cutting in late summer and short term pony grazing in late summer/autumn, to prevent colonisation by rank and invasive species. The Land Management Group are working on drawing up an updated management plan for the DPA to ensure that the sympathetic management that has been in place for the last decade or more is continued and the special qualities and rarities of the area are conserved.

DPA members are welcome to visit the site, but please tread very carefully to avoid damaging the orchids and do not go into the fields if there are ponies present. There is limited parking on the verge where the bridlepath leaves Pudsham Down.

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