Ausewell Wood

Wild, rugged and raw. This is a lost world that needs your help.

Credit: Mark Hamblin / 2020VISION /
Credit: Mark Hamblin / 2020VISION /

We began something special when we joined forces with the National Trust to buy Fingle Woods in Devon. Since then this fledgling partnership has taken flight and now, six years on, we've been handed a fantastic opportunity to strengthen it further by working together at Ausewell Wood.

Ausewell is close to the small Devon town of Ashburton, one of the gateways to Dartmoor. The river Dart runs along its western edge and the north-eastern section of wood starts as a level plateau before dropping steeply into the valley.

Welcome to wild Ausewell.

My name is David Rickwood and I'm lucky enough to work for the Woodland Trust as the site manager on Dartmoor.

Ausewell is a woodland that retains a sort of prehistoric element to it with rocky tors, tumbling screes, a massive glacial torrent river - sitting right on the edge of Dartmoor. And this all falls off the side of high Dartmoor moorland.

At the moment we have an amazing opportunity to acquire this site in partnership with the National Trust.

Morning, my name's Mick Jones and I'm the National Trust countryside manager for Dartmoor. We had our first experience of partnership working with the Woodland Trust at Fingle Woods which has been great. Working with Dave Rickwood has been brilliant because his knowledge as a forester has really helped us in many areas of management in the woods.

Much of Ausewell Wood is an ancient woodland site. Some of it is a SSSI, and some of it is designated as a Special Area of Conservation. During the 20th century much of the woodland was converted to conifer, possibly for very good reasons, but the needs of society are different today. We now need to think about the future, and a lot of the species that live here are under threat from our changing climate. Over the next 50 years and more, those pressures will become far greater.

Ausewell is a site that could be referred to as a refugia. Some of these deep Dartmoor valleys are often the sorts of places where species that are on the margins are likely to survive longest. And that's why we're looking to you for your help in supporting us in our work.

We really need your help to secure the purchase of Ausewell Wood and also to allow us to manage this site into the future for all of those iconic Dartmoor species. Thank you.

Please donate to our urgent appeal.

Wild Ausewell

The sheer scale of Ausewell is incredible – it’s like a lost world, beautiful but raw and uncompromising: 342 acres of a wild, rugged mix of wood and heath with dramatic rocky outcrops, boulders and screes, dense woodland and damp temperate rainforest along the famous River Dart.

It’s also a real haven for some of the UK’s most precious and endangered wildlife. Here raptors perch on rocks and at least 11 of the UK’s bat species, including the rare barbastelle, roost in forgotten mine shafts. In the quieter fringes, the hazel dormouse snoozes peacefully in the trees. And in summer pied flycatchers, redstarts and nightjars migrate here to breed.

Our vision for a lost world

We can’t miss this opportunity to bring such a historic and wonderful site back to life and let it achieve its full potential as a wildlife haven.

We estimate 160 acres of ancient woodland at Ausewell are in jeopardy after being clear-felled and planted with non-native conifers after the Second World War. The conifers prevent light reaching the delicate woodland floor.

By slowly removing them and allowing the light back in we can allow native species to take hold once more, which in turn will support a range of threatened wildlife.

Donate to this appeal

Thanks to your generous donations, Ausewell Wood is now in our care. But raising the purchase price was just the start - the restoration costs could amount to a further £1.5 million. Every donation is vital if we're to realise the wood's full potential.

Whatever you choose to give, donating online is secure, quick and cost effective so more money goes directly towards supporting our work at Ausewell Wood.