An independent voice and a forum for debate for those who find Dartmoor a source of livelihood or inspiration


Moor Medieval Conference

Moor Medieval Conference by the ‘Moor Than Meets the Eye’ Landscape Partnership

Posted in Events on Thursday 13th June 2019 at 10:02pm

Saturday 29th June, 10am
Parke, Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot, TQ13 9JQ

This is an opportunity to find out about new research carried out by the Moor Medieval study group over the last four years. Focusing on the period between the late eleventh and the early sixteenth centuries, we’ll be looking at the development of Dartmoor’s landscape, the ways in which people made a living, the impact of the Black Death, and the extraordinary period of economic and social change that brought the Middle Ages to a close.

We’ll be joined by eminent historian Professor Chris Dyer who will be giving a short talk.

A light lunch and refreshments throughout the day will be provided.

Book Your Free Ticket Now

For more information, please email Emma Stockley.

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Burnicombe Wood Visit

Burnicombe Wood Visit

Burnicombe Wood Visit

Posted in Events on Monday 27th May 2019 at 9:31pm

The conditions on the morning of Monday 13th May 2019 were perfect. As we made our approach along what can only be described as very rural tracks, the crystal clear views across Dartmoor from a perspective that was totally new to us gave everyone a glimmer of the delights that was to await us.

On arrival our hosts John and Clare Williamson and their keen helper Jordan who had been studying conservation at Bangor University could not have given us a warmer welcome.

Burnicombe Wood consists of 10 acres of specified ancient woodland and their main focus revolves around conservation and preservation, ensuring that they protect the fantastic habitat and either use or sell whatever they produce. These items consist of hazel hurdles, bags of charcoal and by adding charcoal to manure they are able to create a hygroscopic fertiliser which John and Clare also sell.

We truly felt privileged whilst enjoying walking their land, and could not help but admire the spectacular flora and fauna which included a thick carpet of bluebells. The quality of this visit was extremely special and created an unforgettable event for all of us

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Tom Greeves with Tin Ingot
Chris Chapman

Lis Greeves presented with flowers by Peter Beacham
Chris Chapman

Tin Ingot

Powdermills Pottery Plate

Tom Greeves steps down as Chairman of The Dartmoor Society after 21 years

Posted in Press Releases on Sunday 28th April 2019 at 10:03pm

After 21 years at the helm, founder and chairman of the Dartmoor Society Tom Greeves presided over his last Dartmoor Society AGM at Scorriton Village Hall on 13th April. Members and well-wishers gathered for a heartfelt farewell to both Tom and his wife Lis.

Peter Beacham OBE, President of the Dartmoor Society, presented Tom with a specially commissioned Tin Ingot made from Devon and Cornwall tin mounted on locally harvested spalted Beech; and a Platter that had been commissioned from local potter Joss Hibbs using Dartmoor clays and glazes.

In a letter of thanks Tom wrote, ‘I am thrilled to have they reflect so much of my connection with, and interests in Dartmoor – prehistory, tinworking, craft skills and the Dartmoor Society itself’.

No mention of Tom would be complete without reference to his wife Lis who is held in great esteem by the committee and members for her knowledge and enthusiasm for Dartmoor and her huge contribution to the smooth running of the Dartmoor Society. She will be very genuinely missed.

After 21 busy and successful years Tom and Lis leave a permanent legacy. From the outset, the Dartmoor Society has been an independent voice for all those who live on Dartmoor, or are inspired by it. Its founding principles have been to encourage debate, foster research and share knowledge about issues central to Dartmoor.

The Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival in June 2018 spearheaded by Tom, is an example of the Dartmoor Society’s cultural contribution to the life of Dartmoor. Events and research such as the Gidleigh Common Day and resulting report in July 2018, attest to the wider involvement of the Dartmoor Society in current issues and debates.

Tom’s lifelong interest, understanding and love of Dartmoor has informed and guided the Dartmoor Society over the past 21 years. President Peter Beecham summed up his leaving as ‘one of life’s great moments’ and certainly the Dartmoor Society acknowledges with sincere gratitude the firm foundations that have been laid and the achievements gained, under his guidance, since its inception in 1998.

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Dartmoor Society Award 2019

Dartmoor Society Award 2019

22nd Dartmoor Society Award (2019) presented to Doug and Claire King-Smith

Posted in Press Releases on Sunday 28th April 2019 at 9:38pm

At the 21st Annual General Meeting of The Dartmoor Society, held at Scoriton on 13 April 2019, Dr Tom Greeves, retiring Chairman of The Dartmoor Society, presented Doug and Claire King-Smith with the 22nd Dartmoor Society Award (2019). It is in the form of a magnificent hand-crafted ceramic plate made by potter Penny Simpson and calligrapher Michael Edwards, both of Moretonhampstead.

The plate is inscribed ‘for Doug & Claire King-Smith for exemplary Hillyfield’.

Dr Tom Greeves said: “We had a Society visit to Hillyfield in May 2018 – a quiet mix of ancient and coniferous woodland and pasture, comprising 46 acres straddling the Harbourne river between South Brent and Dean Prior. All were hugely impressed with the dedication and achievements of Doug, Claire and their helpers in revitalising the ecology and potential of this woodland. Yet, for six years Dartmoor National Park Authority resisted their efforts to obtain planning permission for activities and structures associated with traditional woodland management, claiming that they were potentially harmful to the ‘character and appearance’ of the National Park.

“Happily, in April 2018, at an appeal hearing at which the Dartmoor Society was represented, the National Park backed down and Doug and Claire’s long-term plans are now in progress.
Hillyfield Woodland is an inspiration for all woodland owners, as it marries traditional, sustainable working practice, generating useful products and income, as carried on for centuries within Dartmoor woodland, with modern ideas about community and volunteer connection with the land, enhancing local economic and social well-being. It is an outstanding example of what could be replicated many times on Dartmoor and beyond.

“This is why I am delighted to present them with this beautiful plate handcrafted by Penny Simpson and Michael Edwards, and inscribed ‘for exemplary Hillyfield’.”

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Lower Uppacott visit

Lower Uppacott visit

Higher Uppacott Visit

Posted in Events on Saturday 13th April 2019 at 7:04am

Two visits instead of one! This was the situation on Wednesday 27th March 2019 when we visited the newly restored Higher Uppacott Grade I listed Medieval Longhouse.

The original visit was timed for 2pm, however due to a large number of Members wishing to attend, the DNPA kindly agreed to provide a second tour scheduled in the morning at 11.30. The weather was perfect and the views from Bel Tor Corner Car Park where we were all meeting to do car sharing were superb.

The restoration of the Longhouse is very much a work in progress and these improvements have been funded by the “Moor Than Meets The Eye” heritage lottery project.

Our guide Ralph Mackridge was extremely knowledgeable and escorted us into the “Shippon,” and through the “Hall”, into what is described as “the inner room”. We also saw the “Parlour” and after being split into two groups we made our way up the much later constructed staircase to a couple of upstairs rooms which would have been primarily used as bedrooms. It was a truly fascinating and very informative day.

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Virtual Reality Event at Meavy Parish Hall

Virtual Reality Event at Meavy Parish Hall

Virtual Reality Event at Meavy Parish Hall

Posted in Events on Wednesday 27th February 2019 at 9:48pm

On Thursday 21st February the Dartmoor Society in conjunction with Yelverton and District Local History Society arranged a unique event in the form of a ground-breaking presentation for over 90 people, courtesy of Plymouth born and bred Professor Bob Stone and his team from Birmingham University entitled “Making the Invisible, Visible” held at Meavy Parish Hall.

By using Human Interface Technologies (HIT) the team has been focussing on a number of high-tech Research and Development projects in the Plymouth area as well as on Dartmoor since 2003.

More specifically Bob explained about their work using a Multi-Purpose Unmanned Surface Vessel (MUSV) where they have been able to carry out the first ever high-tech underwater survey of Burrator Reservoir.

After Bob’s presentation all the audience enjoyed using the headsets and experienced amongst others “virtually” walking on the deck of the Mayflower ship which of course originally set off from Plymouth to America in 1620. Using these Virtual Reality headsets was a first for many of our attendees.

Later on Bob took an aerial photograph of everyone outside on Meavy Village Green using a drone on its inaugural flight with a Hasselblad lens in what can only be described as perfect conditions.

The afternoon was rounded off with an excellent tea provided by the Dartmoor Society Executive Committee.

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Forthcoming talks by Chris Chapman

Posted in Events on Thursday 21st February 2019 at 11:39pm

Renowned Dartmoor photographer Chris Chapman is doing several illustrated talks over the next few months – details below.

Wild Goose & Riddon - Chris Chapman

Hope Lilian Bourne - Chris Chapman

Higher Shilstone - Chris Chapman

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Dartmoor Local Plan 2018-2033

Dartmoor Local Plan 2018-2033, First Draft (December 2018) - Comment by the Dartmoor Society

Posted in Responses/Comments on Thursday 7th February 2019 at 11:17pm


  • This draft Local Plan is attractively designed and is well-written. We welcome the fact that the title refers to Dartmoor rather than Dartmoor National Park.
  • We regret that there is still a Government requirement for both a Local Plan and a Management Plan. This is very confusing for the general public and a waste of resources, when both documents should rationally be combined into one.

p.6 – About the Local Plan

We recommend that there should be an introductory section to the Local Plan which informs the reader that the Plan is essentially concerned with the environment and communities of the enclosed landscape beyond the open moorland. It is extremely rare that there are any planning applications affecting open moorland (examples might be for replacement military structures or Mires Project paraphernalia. Proposals for large-scale infrastructure such as reservoirs, roads, mineral workings or windfarms are very unlikely).

p.17 – 1.2 The Vision for Dartmoor National Park

This section mentions ‘evidence’ and ‘data’. We recommend that it should include an aspiration for all data relating to biodiversity, cultural diversity and the social fabric of Dartmoor to be freely and straightforwardly accessible online for everyone, using each parish as a framework.

p.19 – Strategic Policy 1.3 (1) Presumption in favour of sustainable development

We welcome this policy but with a sense of deep irony, given the recent hostile treatment of the National Park towards Steward Community Woodland and Hillyfield, both of which are exemplars of sustainable development.

p.21 – 1.4.6 Villages and Hamlets

We recommend that additional settlements are included under this categorye.g. Buckland-in-the-Moor, Doccombe, Gidleigh, Harford, Haytor, Leusdon, Murchington, Poundsgate, Sampford Spiney, Teign Village

p.21 – 1.4.6 Outside of classified settlements

Delete ‘of’ from heading.

p.22 – Strategic Policy 1.4(1) Spatial Strategy 4. Open Countryside

We recommend that this should include woodland management.

p.24 – 1.6 Design

This section (1.6.3) should include a statement about the importance of 20th and 21st century buildings that have contributed to the life and work of Dartmoor communities and which continue the legacy of the human story of Dartmoor. Especially important are those buildings of the first half of the 20th century, i.e. before the creation of the National Park, such as small-scale bungalows.

p.25 – Community surveillance

What is ‘natural surveillance’?

p.25 – Traditional building materials 1.6.7

We welcome mention of ‘corrugated metal sheeting’.

p.26 – Sustainable Construction Principles 1.6.11 b)

‘Figure 1.1.’ should read ‘Figure 1.3’.

p.27 – Policy 1.7 (1) Sustainable construction

We recommend that this policy should include a statement that ‘materials of timber and stone should be locally sourced wherever possible’.

pp.35–37 – 2.3 Biodiversity and Geodiversity

We recommend that there should be a statement and a clear map which distinguishes between those designations on the open moorland and those within enclosed land, as the latter are the most relevant to the Local Plan and development (see comment on p.6, above).

We recommend that there should be a statement about the key importance of ‘ordinary’ and commonplace species rather than an emphasis only on the rare or unusual. There will almost always be a net loss of commonplace biodiversity when there is new development, especially on greenfield sites.

p.40 – Strategic Policy 2.2 (1) Conserving and enhancing Dartmoor’s biodiversity and geodiversity

Given the negative impacts mentioned in 2.3.6 and 2.3.7 (p.36), we recommend that this policy should be more radical in requiring, for example, control of dogs (except working dogs) by means of leads throughout the National Park at all times of year.

p.40 – Biodiversity Enhancement

We recommend that there should be a statement noting that many of the negative impacts on Dartmoor biodiversity are caused by development and population pressure outside the National Park, within Devon, Britain and abroad.

We recommend that the concept of ‘enhancement’ should include ‘Cultural Enhancement’ alongside ‘Biodiversity Enhancement’. This would relate to the loss of historic hedges and other cultural features including structures.

p.41 – Table 2.3 Sustainable drainage

‘Swale’ is not a Dartmoor term, and should be deleted or replaced. It is North American dialect for a marshy depression, probably borrowed from eastern England in the 17th century (Source: Wikipedia).

p.42 – 2.4 Dartmoor’s moorland, heathland and woodland

We recommend that this section should include a statement about the importance of centuries of woodland management on Dartmoor which have created features of cultural significance (structures, boundaries, tracks etc) within them.

p.43 – 2.5 Tranquillity and dark night skies

We recommend, under 2.5.2 that there should be an additional bullet-point:

  • Absorbing centuries and millennia of human presence

p.45 – 2.6 The Historic and Cultural Environment – Archaeology

We recommend that the statement about 1,082 Scheduled Monuments should be rewritten. Approximately 1,000 of these are on moorland which is most unlikely to have development proposals [this estimate was provided orally and informally to Tom Greeves by Andy Crabb in January 2019]. Moreover, the Scheduled Monuments on moorland are not indicative of the overall scale of culturally significant features on moorland, nor do they have a realistic protective role (unlike the designations within enclosed land), and confuse attitudes towards the historic environment. Readers of the Local Plan will be interested to know where the 80 or so Scheduled Monuments are within enclosed land, and there should be a map indicating these.

p.45 – Buildings and structures

We recommend that this section includes a statement to the effect that all buildings (whether ancient or newly built) have ‘heritage’ value as they tell parts of the human story of Dartmoor over centuries or millennia. It is obvious that medieval buildings are important but there needs to be recognition of the importance of more recent structures too, especially those of the 19th and 20th centuries which may not be designated as listed buildings.

p.45 – Landscapes

PALs do not adequately reflect the extent and time-depth of the human story on moorland and so confuse conservation thinking, and have failed to benefit the archaeology of moorland Dartmoor. They are not relevant to the enclosed landscape which the Local Plan is focussed on.

p.45 – Conserving and Enhancing Heritage Assets 2.6.2

We recommend an aspiration to provide high quality data about the built environment, parish by parish, freely available online (see comment p.17 1.2, above).

p.46 – Understanding Significance 2.6.5

We recommend that a new bullet-point is added for ‘woodlands’ as key areas for potential new discoveries.

We recommend that a new bullet-point is added for ‘mills, weirs and watercourses’.

We recommend that under the fourth current bullet-point that ‘industrial housing’ is added within the bracket.

pp. 46–7 – Conservation Areas 2.6.11

We recommend that the list of ‘Areas of Historic Setting’ is expanded to include, for example, Horndon as a distinctive mining zone.

p.48 – 2.7 Conservation of historic non-residential buildings in the open countryside 2.7.3

The final sentence in this paragraph is ungrammatical. There needs to be a fullstop after ‘conversion’, and the start of a new sentence with ‘Unfortunately’.

p.48 –

We welcome the statement that ‘Generally the more a building changes the more its character is lost’ but we recommend that this principle is applied to all residential buildings and new-builds (see 3.7, below) with regard to extensions.

p.50 – Strategic Policy 2.7 (1) Conservation of historic non-residential buildings in the open countryside 2 a) ii)

Caution is needed with the term ‘traditional’ unless clearly defined, as features of the 20th and even 21st century are ‘traditional’ in some sense or can become so. Therefore we recommend that this policy is rewritten as follows: ‘of a form, structure and history that significantly informs the story of Dartmoor’s built heritage’.

pp.53 & 55 – Strategy para 1 and 3.1 Housing development in Dartmoor National Park

65 new homes per annum equate to 650 new homes within a decade which, almost certainly, will result in a significant increase in population. Although there has been little change to Dartmoor’s population in the past 10 years, we recommend that there should be a statement of national, regional and local population trends (relentlessly upwards) which are bound to impact upon Dartmoor.

p.55 – Housing development in Dartmoor National Park 3.1.3

We recommend that the sixth current bullet-point should have ‘woodland’ added, as ‘forestry’ implies commercial non-native forestry activity.

We recommend that a new bullet-point is added: ‘Support small-scale quarrying, micro-hydro schemes, and re-use of railways’.

p.58 – 3.2 Different types of housing 3.2.3

We are concerned at the increase in second homes and we recommend that there should be a ‘principal residence’ requirement/condition on all existing homes as well as new housing.

p.72 – 3.7 Householder Development

We welcome para 3.7.3 regarding the negative impact of extensions, which destroy the original integrity of a building (see comment p.48 re, above) and make housing stock less affordable.

p.72 – Householder Development 3.7.4

We recommend that there is a presumption against extensions, and consider 30% far too generous. We recommend that Permitted Development Rights should be removed within Dartmoor National Park.

p.76 - Replacement Homes 3.7.18

We recommend that ‘such as inter-war bungalows’ should be added to the final sentence.

p.76 – Policy 3.8 (1) Replacement Homes 1. (a)

We recommend that ‘removal of a dilapidated dwelling’ should be deleted. Many historic and architecturally non-listed assets have been swept away on Dartmoor because they have been labelled as ‘dilapidated’ or as an ‘eyesore’ or ‘disfigurement’. Buildings that have been abandoned or poorly maintained are some of those most at risk from emotive superficial assessment of their appearance, yet most can be fully restored and remain as historic markers within the Dartmoor landscape.

p.78 – Policy 3.9 (1) Rural Workers’ Housing 1. a)

We recommend that ‘woodland’ should be added here as an acceptable business (see comment p.55, above, re forestry).

p.80 – the illustration on this page does not seem relevant to the topic.

p.83 – Policy 3.12 Low Impact Residential Development

We welcome this policy but with heartfelt irony, given the aggressive and negative treatment of Steward Community Woodland.

p.85 ff – 4. Communities, Services and Infrastructure

We recommend that there should be a section on provision of Public Toilets which are essential for the well-being of visitors and residents alike.

p.89 – Rail 4.3.2

We recommend that the route of the Tavistock–Okehampton railway should be protected from prejudicial development, and that much fuller analysis should be given to the provision of rail transport in, or close to, the National Park (see the item on p.2 of The Western Morning News of 23 January 2019 detailing the remarkable increase in use of local railways since 2001). We recommend that there should be positive statements about the potential reopening of the Teign Valley Railway and the Newton Abbot–Moretonhampstead line, and that the Local Plan should endorse reopening of the Tavistock–Okehampton line as a priority.

p.119 - Minerals, Waste and Energy

We welcome the Strategy as set out on p.119, paragraph 6.1.5 (p. 120) and Strategic Policy 6.1 (1) New or Extended Minerals Operations, especially 2. and 3. (p.121).

p.122 – Strategic Policy 6.2 (1) Minimising the Impact of Minerals Operations 2. (b)

We recommend that ‘removal of plant and other infrastructure’ should be rewritten to take account of the cultural significance of mineral working of any period. We recommend that the policy should include a statement, ‘Where possible, redundant plant and infrastructure should be left in situ as historic markers for the future’.

p.125 – 6.3 Energy development

We welcome this section.

p.132 – Buckfastleigh Proposal 7.6 (1) 1. line 1

‘Barn Park’ should read ‘Holne Road’.

pp. 133–162 Settlement Maps

We welcome these maps, especially the inclusion of Listed Buildings.

pp.140–141 – Princetown

We recommend that the Conservation Area should be extended northwards to include all the buildings within the ‘Settlement Boundary’ alongside and west of the Two Bridges Road (i.e. including Bellever Close for its distinctive Cornish Unit houses and ‘The Cottage’, which is the northernmost building on the west side of the Two Bridges Road which was erected as a bakehouse for the War Prison in 1809/10), and should be further extended to include New London on the Two Bridges road as a rare example (1871) of industrial housing, and Ockery Barn and the ruins of Ockery Cottage at Oakery Bridge (just off the map) which were two of Princetown’s earliest buildings (the barn dates to 1808 and the cottage to 1805).

We recommend that there should be a map for Lydford and also maps for all 18 villages and hamlets shown on Map 1.1. (p.21) as well as the additional settlements we recommend under 1.4.6 (p.21), above.

pp. 166–169 Appendix B

The heading of Column 1 should read ‘Policies superseded’ not ‘Policies superceded’.

Tom Greeves, Chairman, 29 January 2019

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Key Responses to DEFRA Review of Designated Landscapes

Posted in Responses/Comments on Wednesday 2nd January 2019 at 9:09pm

The following are the key responses to the questions asked, made by Dr Tom Greeves on behalf of the Dartmoor Society in December 2018:

8. What do you think does not work overall about the system and might be changed?

The system is flawed due to the lack of democracy in that none of the members of Dartmoor National Park Authority (and other NPs) are directly elected by the residents of the national park – see the more detailed response to Question 15. Any NP or AONB is only as good as the staff and members. More high quality specialists are needed, with regular training and debate for all employees and members of the Authority. For example, it is extraordinary that there is no trained and qualified historian working for Dartmoor National Park.

9. What views do you have about the role National Parks and AONBs play in nature conservation and biodiversity?

Theoretically they play a very important role. However, Dartmoor National Park staff do not challenge the dominance of Natural England and so have little influence. They also seem easily led by fashionable concepts such as rewilding or peatland ‘restoration’ and do not take the lead themselves in coming up with new ideas.

Could they do more to enhance our wildlife and support the recovery of our natural habitats?

Yes, by encouraging sustainable use of woodlands, and by resisting the policies of Natural England and fashionable concepts of rewilding and rewetting of peatlands without evidence-based reasoning. The staff of NPs and AONBs should be the best qualified to shape new policies and thinking, but need more training and debate.

10. What views do you have about the role National Parks and AONBs play in shaping landscape and beauty, or protecting cultural heritage?

The concept of ‘natural beauty’ needs to be challenged as the beauty of our National Parks and AONBs is very much a product of cultural activity over millennia. The protection of cultural heritage on Dartmoor has been poor – in the past twenty-five years, many archaeological features on open moorland have been smothered in vegetation largely due to the erroneous polices of Natural England (and English Nature). The protection of historic buildings is very patchy and there is a serious lack of understanding of the importance of 19th and 20th century buildings as evidence of the continuum of human presence and activity.

11. What views do you have about the role National Parks and AONBs play in working with farmers and land managers and how might this change as the current system of farm payments is reformed?

On Dartmoor, much more respect needs to paid to the Dartmoor Commoners’ Council (created by the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985) as its members embody centuries of experience of good livestock husbandry.

12. What views do you have about the role National Parks and AONBs play in supporting and managing access and recreation?

At the moment there is too much support for large-scale recreational events (e.g. cycling and running) which can have a damaging effect in many ways.

13. What views do you have about the way National Park and AONB authorities affect people who live and work in their areas? Are they properly supporting them and what could be done differently?

There is surprisingly little support for the livelihoods of local people, especially those that have innovative and environmentally-friendly ideas. Recently the National Park has been aggressively hostile towards a community woodland settlement (Steward Wood) and to a sustainable woodland project (Hillyfield). Both these should have been singled out for praise by the NP as exemplars of alternative ways of managing land in environmentally gentle ways.

14. What views do you have on the role National Park and AONB authorities play on housing and transport in their areas?

There are insufficiently strong policies for genuinely affordable housing.

15. What views do you have on the way they are governed individually at the moment? Is it effective or does it need to change, if so, how?

The government of national parks needs radical overhaul. There is a fundamental democratic deficit in that 33,500 residents of Dartmoor National Park (and other NPs) are not able to vote for candidates in local elections who have put themselves forward to represent them on the National Park Authority. This is an extraordinary ‘black hole’ in the British democratic process as the current National Park Authority makes potentially life-changing decisions on a monthly basis affecting the environment and livelihoods of these residents. And yet none of the members of the Authority has been chosen specifically by the residents to represent them on the NP Authority.

16. What views do you have on whether they work collectively at the moment, for instance to share goals, encourage interest and involvement by the public and other organisations?

There has consistently been a poor level of engagement of NP staff or of members of the Authority with the local community – this is fundamentally a problem of the ‘culture’ of national parks, i.e. that a national park must fundamentally be ‘a good thing’ and so staff and members tend to cocoon themselves into a state of cosy mediocrity, and sometimes a sense of superiority, without true engagement with local people (at parish meetings or community events). As an example, in our experience, NP staff or members have very, very rarely attended the numerous events which the Dartmoor Society has organised over twenty years and which have been open to the general public.

19. What views do you have on the process of designation – which means the way boundaries are defined and changed?

The boundaries of designated areas are a concern. On Dartmoor, for example, it is bizarre that the key towns of Okehampton, Tavistock and Bovey Tracey are excluded from the National Park as they are essential to the economic and social well-being of those who live within the present boundary. Logically, based on culture, geology, etc, the Dartmoor region should extend westwards to the River Tamar, which would be a natural boundary.

20. What views do you have on whether areas should be given new designations? For instance, the creation of new National Parks or AONBs, or new types of designations for marine areas, urban landscapes or those near built-up areas.

We would not support the creation of any new national parks unless the issue of the democratic deficit was resolved. In any area, high quality information about the natural and cultural environment, shared with local communities, should be the basis of good decision-making. Designations should not, in theory, be necessary, as communities would take pride in what was known about their place and so would instinctively safeguard it. We recommend the creation of Ecocultural Zones for all open moorland and Access Land – see the more detailed response to Question 23.

22. Do you think the terms currently used are the right ones? Would you suggest an alternative title for AONBs, for instance and if so what?

The term Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is misleading and woolly as a concept. These are clearly cultural landscapes shaped by millennia of human interaction with the land and its ecosystems. Area of Outstanding Cultural Landscape would be more accurate as a title.

23. The review has been asked to consider how designated landscapes work with other designations such as National Trails, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), National Nature Reserves (NNRs) and Special Protected Areas (SPAs). Do you have any thoughts on how these relationships work and whether they could be improved?

A plethora of designations is confusing for the general public. Within national parks, we have concluded that, on open moorland, the current legal designations of Site of Special Scientific Interest and Scheduled Monument, and the informal designations of Premier Archaeological Landscapes, are no longer fit for purpose and have failed to deliver good management of either the natural or the cultural environment. The SSSIs were created from 1952, for nature conservation reasons alone, and have dominated decision-making on open moorland. At that time there was no understanding of the extent of the cultural landscape of Dartmoor which we now recognise to be one of the finest in the world in terms of extent, chronological range, diversity, state of preservation and ease of access. It contains messages for 8000 years of human relationship with the land. The dominance of SSSIs has created an imbalance between Nature and Culture. We therefore need a new legal designation of Ecocultural Zone for open moorland and access land, with nature and culture given equal weight. This would transform thinking and management decision-making.

24. Do you have any other points you would like to make that are not covered above?

There should be overt support for small-scale local use of local resources of stone, wood and minerals, plus micro-hydro energy schemes and any other low-impact environmentally-friendly projects. There should be much more emphasis on high quality research. National Park HQs should be research ‘hubs’ with an unrivalled ‘library’ resource, freely available to the general public, of information relating to all aspects of the cultural and natural environment of the national park.

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Short Film: Four Seasons on Dartmoor

Posted in General on Sunday 21st October 2018 at 8:47pm

Dartmoor Society member Steve Lavelle has shared with us a beautifully made short film he has produced, entitled ‘Four Seasons on Dartmoor’.

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Lew Trenchard Church

Coombe Trenchard Manor

Lew Trenchard Church, the Forgotten Garden and Coombe Trenchard Manor

Posted in Events on Monday 24th September 2018 at 10:54pm

Our Dartmoor Society Members had an absolute treat on Wednesday 19th September 2018 when we had three fascinating visits in one.

The theme of this event was to learn about the locality of where Sabine Baring Gould lived and worked, and where better to explore this subject than the very beautiful village of Lew Trenchard.

We started off having an interesting tour of the Parish Church of St Peter which was where Sabine held the position of both the Rector and the Squire in the Village.

We also visited the Forgotten Garden which was originally established for Sabine’s wife Grace to give her somewhere pleasant to walk to help her exercise whilst fighting Arthritis later in her life.

Finally, we had a tour of the very beautiful Coombe Trenchard Manor which was originally part of Sabine’s Estate and has been lovingly restored by Philip and Sarah Marsh.

This event proved to be a true feast providing both historical content and beauty combined and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.

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Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival
Photo by Chris Chapman

Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival Report

Posted in Events on Monday 24th September 2018 at 10:36pm

The Dartmoor Society has now published a full report on the Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival. You can download it in PDF format below.

Download the Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival Report

Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival Report

If you do not have a PDF reader you can download a free copy of Adobe Reader.

Get Adobe Reader

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Change of PO Box address

Posted in General on Monday 10th September 2018 at 7:53pm

Please note that from today, 10th September 2018, the Dartmoor Society’s PO Box address  has changed to the following:

The Dartmoor Society
PO Box 570

A redirection will be in place for an appropriate period in case anything is posted to the old PO Box address.

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