PUDSHAM HAY MEADOWS
In spring 2016, the DPA completed its purchase of a small area of land on Dartmoor. This land, previously owned by Elizabeth Proctor for about 20 years, was managed under an agreement with the Dartmoor National Park Authority due to its significance as a traditional hay meadow. With the help of a generous legacy, the DPA acquired it to ensure its continued conservation. Later on, we were fortunate to acquire an additional field, now lovingly named Sayer's Field, which we maintain along with the rest of the meadows.
These meadows consist of three fields and several small shelterbelt areas filled with Scots pine and deciduous shrubs and trees. The land stretches on both sides of a farm track/bridleway that runs south from the road between Widecombe and Cold-East Cross. The entire area encompasses approximately 1.3 hectares (3.2 acres).
All of these fields are not only valuable wildlife habitats but also recognized as a County Wildlife Site. Pudsham Meadow, the first field on the left as the bridleway leaves Pudsham Down, is particularly remarkable. According to Dartmoor National Park ecologists, it stands as one of the finest hay meadows within the National Park. The other two fields had been neglected in the past, but with the collaborative efforts of DNPA ecologists, local supporters, and the previous owner, they are rapidly regaining their former glory. In fact, the UK Biodiversity Action Plan identifies such fields as Priority Habitat due to their alarming decline over the past half-century. Now, they are highly localized, and Dartmoor alone accounts for about 6% of the national resource—truly a gem like Pudsham.
These meadows boast an incredible diversity of wildflowers, supporting an abundance of insects, including beautiful butterflies and vital bees. We've even spotted Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries nectaring here. During a recent orchid count conducted by volunteers from Devon Wildlife Trust and the DPA, we were delighted to find an impressive number of orchids: 742 Greater Butterfly-orchids, 1419 Heath Spotted-orchids, 1169 Southern Marsh-orchids, and 87 Twayblades—all flourishing in harmony.
To maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystem, we implement a careful management plan. This includes cutting back bracken in late summer and allowing short-term pony grazing in late summer/autumn to prevent the colonization of dominant and invasive species. The Land Management Group is actively working on an updated plan to ensure the continuation of the compassionate management that has been in place for the last decade or more, thus safeguarding the area's unique qualities and rare inhabitants.
COME AND SEE FOR YOURSELF…
We warmly welcome the public to visit this enchanting site. However, we kindly ask that you tread with utmost care to avoid causing any harm to the delicate orchids. Please refrain from entering the fields if ponies are present. Limited parking is available on the verge where the bridlepath leaves Pudsham Down, so please plan accordingly.