The National Trust owns around 3500 acres of woodland and moorland stretching from the river bridge at Shaugh Prior right up the valley to Plym Head. The area is very rich in wildlife and archaeology and is popular with walkers, naturalists and climbers.
At the Shaugh Prior end the Dewerstone Rocks can be found – these are popular climbing rocks. Care needs to be taken when climbing here as the rock faces are high and vertical. Novice climbers should always be supervised. See the British Mountaineering Council for courses and safety tips.
There are myths and legends associated with the Dewerstone (Dewer meaning the devil!) – click here for more details.
Upstream of the Dewerstone the Plym runs through a sessile oak wooded valley which is part of the South Dartmoor Woodlands Special Area of Conservation.
An important ancient woodland site with a rich lichen and moss flora, including some rare and local species. The woodlands cover steep valley slopes around the confluence of the Rivers Meavy and Plym and contain predominantly previously coppiced Pedunculate Oak. There is also Sessile Oak, Ash, Beech, Birch and Alder. The woodland floor is grazed and the flora consists mainly of Bilberry, Bramble, Wood Sorrel, Heath Bedstraw and various grasses with Greater Woodrush along the river banks. Birds include the Buzzard, Tawny Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and Dipper and Grey Wagtail alongside the river banks.
From Trowlesworthy Farm the open moorland begins. Despite the great sense of space, isolation and natural wilderness of the moor, the landscape has been shaped and inhabited by people for at least 6000 years. Intermittent use, the durability of granite and the gradual decline of development since the 19th century has led to much of this activity being readily evident. The visible Bronze Age landscape of houses (many grouped in enclosures) extensive land divisions, cairns, and other ritual monuments such as stone rows and burial cists is of international significance. Medieval and post medieval farmsteads with associated field systems and the industries of tin streaming, rabbit warrening and quarrying allow the daily lives and activities of these past moorland people to be read from the landscape. Recorded oral memories of 19th and 20th century warreners attest to the hard and isolated existence this life became. Many of these sites have been designated as Scheduled Monuments of national importance.
There are many good walks in the area – this one from Shaugh Bridge to Cadover Bridge (3 miles long) is recommended.