Lower East Lounston Nature Reserve, Devon



Small but pretty area of ancient woodland bordering a stream, near the east edge of Dartmoor; good for bluebells and primroses in the springtime
Amongst the smallest and least visited of the over 50 nature reserves in Devon, Lower East Lounston encloses seven acres of damp woodland on the north side of a shallow valley, adjoining a small stream, a nameless tributary of Liverton Brook. The woodland contains no especially ancient trees but is well enough established, and is a good place in spring to see a range of common arboreal flowers, most abundant being bluebells and primroses, with a sprinkling of pink purslane, a somewhat rarer species. Animals that may occasionally be spotted include foxes, badgers, dormice and various birds.

The nature reserve is toured by a 0.3 mile loop path, across the tree-clad slopes, while the lower area, bordering the stream, can be seen by walking off-trail, though here the ground is quite boggy. It takes at most half an hour to explore the woods, which are not so interesting outside of the spring wildflower season.

The Reserve

Lower East Lounston Nature Reserve is reached by a narrow, unnamed lane between Lounston and Liverton, and its entrance is indicated only by a rather hidden sign, at the start of the path, which descends alongside a tiny stream. There is parking space for several vehicles on the grassy verge to the east, opposite the junction with a farm track from the north. This location is near the top of a lengthy, twisting spur of higher ground extending from the vicinity of Haytor Rocks on Dartmoor; the woods cover part of the south-facing slope, dropping down to the stream which runs along the valley floor below. The path descends a little way, past earthen banks bearing a few spring-blooming early purple orchids, and forks at the start of the short loop, along which the upper section crosses relatively dry ground, through the densest patches of bluebells, while the lower portion traverses moister terrain, where the ground is more overgrown. Another minor tributary stream trickles through the woods towards the east edge.