Access to this Devon Wildlife Trust managed nature reserve/site
We recognise access to nature is hugely important to wellbeing, but at this difficult time, we need to have the health of our staff and the community at the forefront of our mind - including neighbours to our nature reserves. Nature reserve car parks are therefore temporarily closed, and we are asking people not to drive/travel to our sites. For those who live locally and may be accessing sites for the purposes of their daily exercise, we ask that everyone observe government restrictions on outdoor access and ensure guidelines on social distancing are always followed.
Please be aware that key staff will be accessing this site for regular livestock and health and safety checks.
Advice and rules on public access may change. Please keep up to date on the status of access to our sites and also to benefit from lots of great information about our work, about wildlife and about how you can take action for Devon’s stunning natural environment, by visiting www.devonwildlifetrust.org and by following us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram
Our work for local wildlife continues and remains as important as ever. To find out more about ways in which you can help and enjoy wildlife at home and how to support our work visit www.devonwildlifetrust.org/support-us
Know before you go
A walk through the reserve will take 2 hours
The terrain is rough and steep in places. Contact the Trust for disabled access information
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
A reserve of two parts, Town Wood and Blackadon Down, featuring two of Dartmoor’s iconic habitats – steep wooded river valley and grazed bracken moor.
How to get to Blackadon
Of oaks and otters
29 hectares of classic Dartmoor wooded valley forms the greater part of the reserve, enclosing the fast flowing River Webbern. A tributary of the Dart, the rushing waters are studded by stream-smoothed boulders on which passing otters may leave their spraint, and where bobbing grey wagtails can often be seen.
From the Blackadon Bridge entrance, pick your own path along the steep valley sides, cloaked beneath sessile oak woodland, to find spring woodland flowers such as sanicle, woodruff and primrose among the fern and moss-clad rocky outcrops. Rarities include bastard balm, Tunbridge filmy fern and Graphina pauciloculata lichen.
The woods support important moss and lichen communities which are unique in Western Europe. Look out overhead for pied flycatcher, wood warbler and redstarts flitting through the tree canopy, and in winter for woodcock, which may erupt into flight from the ground before your feet.
Moor to be seen
On reaching the upper slopes, the woodland thins out through hazel and birch coppice to the 8 hectare moorland of Blackadon Down. Stands of bracken are interspersed with scattered low growing gorse, hawthorn and blackthorn scrub, on which linnets and yellowhammers may perch, and open glades of wild strawberry, tormentil and bugle.
Pathways through the bracken, kept open by grazing livestock, link back to the Leusdon entrance to the reserve. The mix of bracken cover and clearings, which sustains early flowering violets, is of crucial value to some particular rare species.
Several fritillary butterflies depend on this type of bracken moorland habitat, including pearl-bordered, small pearl-bordered and dark green fritillaries, each of which can be seen here, alongside the critically endangered high brown fritillary. This area of Dartmoor is a stronghold for this strong flying species; some individuals make use of the reserve in most years.
For the highest point, and a butterfly's eye view, of the site, Blackadon Tor rises above the moorland plateau of Blackadon Down. From the bench here one can see far across the treetops marking the winding course of the River Webburn, and over to Buckland church on the other side of the valley.
Devon Wildlife Trust's Blackadon nature reserve has been supported by Viridor Credits Environmental Company.
Combine a visit to Blackadon with a trip to our nearby Dart Valley nature reserve.