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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

Last update: 23 Aug 2017 3:17pm