‘Opening Up Emsworthy’ was Manaton’s first Parishscapes project. The aim was to build boardwalks, fences and gates, and clear dense scrub, in order to allow visitors to access and delight in the whole of this beautiful site on Dartmoor. Local communities have been helping to install bridges, boardwalks, fencing and steps to provide access to riverbank areas.


Manaton Mellowmeade
Mellowmeade, Emsworthy

Opening Up Emsworthy was Manaton’s first Parishscapes project where a Parishscapes grant was used to unlock further funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company.  The project is now complete.

Emsworthy 3

The aim of Opening up Emsworthy was to build boardwalks, fences and gates, and clear dense scrub, in order to allow visitors to access and delight in the whole of this beautiful site on Dartmoor.  The local communities have been involved by giving their time to volunteer on site, helping to install bridges, boardwalks, fencing and steps to provide access to riverbank areas.

Emsworthy 4

Project lead, Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) have already noticed an increase in the numbers of people visiting the site, as well as new volunteers helping out with some of the works. Not only are people now able to explore the site, but the works are benefitting wildlife too.  Whilst cattle and ponies can be of great value for conservation grazing, too much grazing can be counter-productive.  With improved fencing, over-grazing and disturbances by large numbers of cattle have been significantly reduced, giving the sensitive habitats the chance to recover.  In time this will increase the diversity and number of flowering plants and the insects that feed on them, including the internationally scarce marsh fritillary butterfly.  A whole range of other species from birds to mammals will also benefit.

Emsworthy 5

The local community, Duchy College and volunteers have all been instrumental in ensuring this project was a success, including the site’s voluntary warden and DWT long-term conservation trainees.   Some fantastic work has been achieved by all those who took part in this project, with volunteers giving an amazing 98 days of their time. Two groups – DWT’s regular Bovey Group and also a team of first-time volunteers from Manaton – have been working on the completion of the boardwalk circuit.

Numerous new gateways have been created to allow more scope for public exploration of the site. Materials used included sweet chestnut fence posts which are attractive as well as long-lasting. Sweet chestnut is a strong and durable material which does not require any form of chemical treatment. As a result, it is one of the most environmentally-friendly fencing materials available. 

Pic 7 Emsworthy

Maps of the newly-created trails have been provided to neighbouring tourist accommodation businesses for use by their guests and further information will be distributed through the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s visitor centres at Hay Tor, Postbridge and Princetown. Voluntary warden, Mr Andrew Taylor says ‘I have been very fortunate to have two thirds of this marvellous site more or less to myself for several years! But I am now very excited that other people will be able to explore and enjoy it for themselves, and that they will also be able to help us to discover more about its wealth of wildlife.’

Next Steps

For further information on Emsworthy Mire, please visit

or more information, please contact Community Heritage Officer, Emma Stockley 01822 890 904

Mellowmead Habitat Management Plan January 2017 can be viewed here.

Related Articles


Ashburton was one of Moor than meets the eye’s pilot Parishcapes parishes alongside Moretonhampstead, Lustleigh and North Bovey. The Guild of St Lawrence, who manage the grade II listed St Lawrence Chapel, have developed a comprehensive research project which will look into all aspects of medieval Ashburton.

Read more

MTMTE Celebration

Over 150 people joined us to celebrate the successes of the MTMTE scheme over the last 5 years at a special event which took place in Manaton on Friday 5th July. There were presentations from a range of people who have been involved in the scheme from partner organisations to project leaders. One of the common threads that came out of the afternoon was the huge impact we have made on caring for our wild and built and cultural heritage and the impact that it has on all of us who have worked together. Speakers paid tribute to the dedication, patience, enthusiasm and expertise that people had contributed to the projects. To complete the celebration the afternoon ended with a hogroast and a chance to chat to each other. The big question now is what happens next?

Read more


Parishscapes will help local communities to come together to explore their parish landscape and discover the heritage within it. Moor than meets the eye will help communities by providing a toolkit of resources and a grant scheme. This will enable local communities to make decisions about their heritage and develop projects that celebrate, care for and increase understanding of and improve the heritage of the parish-landscape.

Read more

Last update: 23 Aug 2017 3:17pm