Our Green Story

Our Green Story

Michelle tells our green story…


Kevin fell in love with Dartmoor while studying computing at Bristol University in the 1980s. In 1987, he moved to Hexworthy at the very centre of Dartmoor to create and run an outdoor activity centre, but had to give it up 10 years later due to family commitments. In 2010, Kevin became a member of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group and is now a Hill Party Leader and committee member.

I studied Geology at university but also entered the computing industry in the 1980s as a business analyst. I eventually grew more and more dissatisfied until in 2001, I gave it all up to do a masters degree in Environmental Sustainability. In 2002, I became an environmental consultant, specialising in minimising the impact that the waste arising from taking apart nuclear power stations has on the environment. However, this role meant I had to stay away from home two nights every week, and the strain was beginning to tell.

Kevin had always wanted to return to Dartmoor so, in 2018, we started looking for a suitable property. In September, we saw that Riverside, located within the Dartmoor National Park and surrounded by broadleaved ancient woodland, had been reduced in price and was now within our budget. It ticked all the boxes on our checklist but we knew it needed a lot of work as the house and grounds had become quite rundown.

Wray Brook with bankside coppiced trees and bluebells

Riverside B&B

We moved in in early January 2019 and the hard work began in earnest. To begin with, we focused on the B&B, renovating all three bedrooms to B&B standard using local tradespeople where we could not do the work ourselves. Our first room became available at Easter 2019. Our third and last room was ready to open just as Covid-19 forced us all into the first lockdown.

From the beginning, we have been determined not to have single-use plastics in our rooms or at the breakfast service, opting instead for refillable containers. We produce a lot of the food and drink ourselves including apple juice, jams, and bread.

One major task was upgrading the kitchen to be suitable for commercial use. Wherever possible we have reused materials, for example, the sink and some cupboards are in the camper’s kitchen, some cupboards are now in use in the garage and the rest are in use in the back of the stables. In the guest lounge, we have replaced some old double-glazed doors and a window, but the old doors have been reused by a neighbour and the window is now in the shower block, providing light and passive warmth in the summer. During winter 2022 we installed underfloor insulation and heating in the guest lounge and did the guest bedrooms in winter 2023.

Wray Valley Camping

Bell tent in Hay Meadow field on the campsite
Camping pitch in the Hay Meadow

The campsite was opened after the first lockdown in July 2020. The site is part of the Nearly Wild Camping Club; all its pitches are in clearings in the woods which have been created for greater biodiversity. When the site first opened, we only had a compost toilet, and Wray Brook provided the washing facilities. All the pitches in the Hay Meadow field are separated from each other by biodiversity corridors of unmown grass and wildflowers, with areas of bramble retained for the valuable habitat they provide. They do have to be kept under control though otherwise, they take over. The Hay Meadow is hand-scythed and raked in the late summer and autumn to encourage wildflower growth.

The earth excavated for the base slab of mum’s lodge was used to form the terraces in the sloping Hay Meadow camping field and the large granite boulders removed now form bollards in the car park to prevent vehicles going down onto the pitches.

We have gradually added more facilities including hot showers (largely heated by solar energy through thermal and photovoltaic panels) and flush toilets as these were demanded by our campers. These all go to our septic tank so we monitor the usage closely and if necessary close a pitch to reduce the number of campers. But as the compost toilet is closer to the main camping field it still gets a lot of use.


When we came out of lockdown in June 2020, we decided to adopt ex-battery hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust. They enjoyed their freedom as much as we did. Our younger guests love feeding the chickens and learning where eggs really come from. We have continued to adopt hens periodically.

In summer 2022, we rehomed two farm cats from the Cats Protection League (CPL). You may see the young black female (Kitty) hunting during the daytime but we never see the older tortoiseshell (Granma) except on the trail cam. Their job is to keep the rodent population under control. Whenever you have chickens, you also have rats and mice.

In the future, we hope to have a couple of old breed pigs for a few years to help clear the brambles and bracken from our woodland to the south of the house.

Four chickens paddling in water flowing over a granite boulder
Vera and friends enjoying a paddle

The Grounds

Pond Creation

One of the first things we did outdoors was to dig a pond in a very boggy area. Although we have a stream, we did not have much still water, and very quickly it was populated with tadpoles. We also put up a polytunnel so we could extend the short growing season here on Dartmoor.




The Hay Meadow is hand scythed at the end of summer to encourage wild flower growth. And we keep the grass long between the pitches as biodiversity corridors.  Each year we see more and different flowers emerge.

Close up of purple orchid

Hedge Laying

Since we arrived here we have gradually relaid all the old, overgrown hedges. 


Play Video about Nicely laid hedge

Hedge Planting

 In September 2022 we entered into an agreement with Moor Trees, as part of their mission to reforest Dartmoor with the aid of volunteers, to plant over 200 metres of new native hedgerows with baby trees grown here on Dartmoor from seed collected from local woods. These provide habitat corridors linking the two areas of ancient woodland to the east and west of us and screening for the campsite from the road.  In January 2023 over 20 volunteers came and helped us plant over 1200 hedge plants in the Hay Meadow.  These include Hornbeam, Aspen, Oak, Hazel, Hawthorn, Holly, Rowan, Crab Apple, Alder, Field Maple, Spindle, Alder Buckthorn, Wild Cherry, Blackthorn and Goat Willow.  A short video can be found here

Play Video

Lower Moor Wood

In March 2024 we bought the 2 acres of woodland immediately to the north of the Hay Meadow.  This is an area of relatively untouched wet woodland.  It will serve as a buffer between the campsite and surrounding farmland and provides connection between Sanduck Wood to the west and Wray Cleave to the east.  We intend to manage this for nature conservation and create a nature trail through the groudns.  It will be possible to hammock camp in this area but at the moment it needs a lot of work and is not generally open to the public.  If you want to help us out please give us a shout.


Water Supply

We realised that the private water supply to the house was not suitable or reliable enough for public supply so took the step of sinking a borehole and having a modern UV treatment system installed.  It tasted so good we became a Refill Station with refill.org.uk so members of the public can now drop in and ask us to refill their water bottles from this Dartmoor spring water. 

Refill Logo

EV Charging

In August 2022 we installed electric vehicle chargers, one at the B&B and one in the campsite and will be listing these for commercial public use as there is very limited public availability in this part of Dartmoor.  We have the capability to make use of our solar PV to supply these.

Solar Energy

We were fortunate that the main house already had an array of photovoltaic panels generating up to 3.5kW and a double panel of solar thermal tubes.  Following on from this we then had the entire hot water system upgraded to make best use of onsite renewable energy technology.

In 2024 we added a further 16 PV panels and a 5 kW battery to the existing array.

Underfloor Heating and Insulation

Over 2 winters (22/23 and 23/24) we have transformed installed underfloor heating in all the guest areas.  This is a major job involving removing all the furniture, carpets and skirting boards, laying the heating system (designed by an Exeter-based company) and then relaying the flooring, refitting the skirting boards and redecorating.  As part of this work we installed underfloor insulation throughout the guest areas which had suspended wooden floors, and in the large family room added internal wall insulation on the north and east facing walls. The new system can be controlled from an app and can have separate timing schedules and temperatures for each room leading to much greater energy efficiency.

Community Involvement

We support our local community by getting involved in local events, including the Moretonhampstead Flag Festival. Our campsite and indoor facilities are available to youth organisations at discounted rates. When we have time we are also Duke of Edinburgh Award assessors and supervisors.

Play Video

Sustainability Activity Trail

During 2024 we are developing a Sustainability Activity Trail.  This will highlight the work we’ve been doing and the unique qualities that make our site truly special. The trail will take you throughout our grounds including our enchanting woods between the Wray Valley Trail and the Wray Brook, showcasing our dedication to preserving the natural environment.

The interpretaion signs are being researched and designed by a talented paid intern from the University of Exeter via their Access to Internship (A2I) scheme.  Thanks to a generous Farming in Protected Landscapes (FIPL) grant from Dartmoor National Park, the project will include:
  • An Extended UK Habitats Survey to deepen our understanding of the ecosystems present on site.
  • Beautiful interpretation signs to guide and inform your journey.
  • Activities for young and old
  • Improved paths, such as the route from the river to the garden, offering improved accessibility.
  • Careful management of the scrub areas, balancing the needs of diverse habitats.
  • Simple bridges that will span the ditches in the woods
  • Nest boxes of various sizes.

Green Tourism Award

In October 2022 we decided to gain accreditation with Green Tourism and after a lot of work, getting everything we did written down and evidence gathered together, we submitted out entry.  In January 2023 we were notified that we had acheived the Gold Award at our first attempt. 

Green Tourism Gold Award logo on woodland background

Future Projects

Future projects include coppicing within the woodlands to create glades and a mix of tree ages within the woods.

We are in discussion with Dartmoor National Park to provide a permissive path to connect the Wray Valley Trail to the paths on the other side of the A382.

Our story continues…”

Verified by MonsterInsights