May Update: Conserving, Connecting, and Celebrating at Wray Valley

May pole dancing

Dear Reader

Welcome to the May edition of the Wray Valley newsletter.

As spring continues to unfold, albeit a bit soggily, we are delighted to update you on the latest news and events at our B&B and campsite. This month, we focus on our commitment to sustainability, upcoming festivities, and unique experiences that distinguish Wray Valley as a remarkable destination.

Join us as we explore the fascinating history of May Day celebrations and participate in hands-on activities that benefit both our guests and the environment. Explore the local culture, discover the natural beauty of our surroundings, and create lasting memories during your stay.

Go and grab a cuppa and immerse yourself in the world of Wray Valley, where tradition and progress meet to create a one-of-a-kind experience.

Happy reading!


Sustainable Experiences: Hands-On, Eco-Friendly Adventures

Navigation training in Storm Kathleen

At Wray Valley, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. Our experiences are designed with sustainability in mind, offering guests the opportunity to learn new skills while supporting our environmental efforts. 

Our outdoor cooking experiences, for instance, utilise wood sustainably sourced from our own woodland conservation efforts. Not only will you discover delicious new recipes, but you’ll also gain valuable insights into eco-friendly cooking practices.  

Likewise, our fun-filled navigation courses are designed to give you the confidence to explore the great outdoors safely and responsibly. By developing your navigation skills, you’ll be able to enjoy nature while minimising your environmental impact.  Interested in joining us for an unforgettable sustainable experience? Book your spot for our outdoor cooking courses or navigation classes today!


Our rescue hens play a vital role in teaching guests of all ages about the origins of eggs. This month, we welcomed four new retirees from commercial egg-laying, while bidding farewell to our beloved “Brenda.” These hens serve as a reminder of the importance of ethical and sustainable farming practices.

No booking required for chicken encounters! They will come and say hello when you arrive – just let us know if you want to help out with feeding and cleaning…..
By participating in our experiences, you’ll not only gain valuable skills and knowledge but also contribute to our ongoing sustainability efforts at Wray Valley.


May Day Celebrations

The origins of May Day celebrations in the England date back centuries, with roots in ancient Beltane festivals that marked the transition from winter to summer. Today, these festivities continue to bring communities across Dartmoor together, celebrating rebirth, fertility, and the beauty of nature.

Last Saturday, we had great fun attending the Green Man Festival in Bovey Tracey, where we saw a colourful array of Morris dancers, led by the enigmatic Green Man himself. Did you know that there are several types of Morris dancing, each with its unique style and history? From Cotswold Morris with its lively hankies and bells to Border Morris with its ragged costumes and fierce sticks, there’s a world of variety to explore.

As the sun rose on May Day (Beltane) itself, three Border Morris groups welcomed the dawn at Haytor with vibrant and energetic performances.

Lustleigh May Day

And this Saturday, from 1pm, we’ll be celebrating in the traditional Lustleigh Mayday festivities, featuring a procession with the May Queen through the village (starting at 2pm led by a group of folk musicians including Michelle), followed by a coronation ceremony and Maypole dancing.

Lustleigh Mayday is steeped in local culture and folklore, and the atmosphere is truly unique. As you stroll through the village, you’ll witness a vibrant blend of tradition and community spirit that has been passed down through generations. Join the procession, with its colourful costumes and music, is an homage to the past and a celebration of spring’s renewal.

Legend has it that the May Queen represents the spirit of the new season, bringing warmth and fertility to the land. Dancers weave intricate patterns around the Maypole, symbolising the intertwining of nature and humanity. It’s a magical time when the boundaries between the human and the faerie worlds are said to be at their thinnest, adding an air of mystery and enchantment to the festivities.

All are welcome to join the procession and become a part of this cherished tradition. The Lustleigh Mayday celebration is a marvellous opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and embrace the spirit of spring. Come along and experience the magic of the festivities first-hand. Why not come and join in the fun? It’s a short walk or cycle ride up the Wray Valley Trail from Bovey Tracey, where regular bus services are available. (Please note that the 178 Lustleigh bus arrives too late for most of the procession and departs before the Maypole dancing.) A convenient car park will be available just outside the village for a small fee.


Book your stay this month to see Dartmoor’s Bluebell Woods and Lawns

May at Wray Valley is a truly mesmerizing time, as our woods are adorned with a stunning display of bluebells, pink purslane and buttercups. Not only does it look fantastic, the aroma is powerful too. Keep an eye out for posts on Dartmoor Facebook groups for updates on the best places to witness this natural spectacle each week.  At the moment Meldon Wood near Okehampton is getting lots of posts.


Practical Conservation Opportunity: Volunteer for Lower Moor Wood

Invasive Hemlock Water Dropwort

The recent dry weather has finally allowed us to explore our newly acquired Lower Moor Wood. With a diverse range of tree species, including oak, ash, hazel, holly, and alder, this woodland is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. A distinct spring line divides the area into a dry upper region and a wetter lower section, both supporting unique habitats for native species.

As we explored deeper into the woodland, it became apparent that management for nature conservation has been limited in recent times. Invasive species, such as golden archangel subsp. argentum and hemlock water dropwort, have begun to takeover. Our goal is to restore the balance and create a thriving ecosystem for local wildlife.

To achieve this, we need your help! We’re seeking passionate nature conservation volunteers to join our team in revitalising Lower Moor Wood. Tasks will include clearing the entrance gateway, creating safe pathways, managing invasive plants, and eventually installing bird boxes. Our long-term vision is to establish a nature trail, with bird and bat boxes, and even offer limited hammock camping.

By joining our volunteer team, you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside like-minded individuals, gain valuable conservation experience, and enjoy the great outdoors. As a token of our appreciation, we’re offering a complimentary pizza or campfire BBQ once the work is done and free camping for those who wish to stay overnight.

Our first volunteer days are pencilled in for Sunday, 5th May and Wednesday 15 May, weather permitting. Additional dates will be announced on Facebook and via our website. If you’re interested in volunteering or would like to lend a hand at any other time, please get in touch.

Together, we can make a difference in preserving and enhancing the natural beauty of Lower Moor Wood for generations to come.


Sustainability Activity Trail – Update 

New path being laid at Wray Valley

New path to the bridge complete

Despite the challenges posed by the weather we’ve made significant progress and path leading to the Nearly Wild pitches and the bridge over the river has finally been constructed. It has a base layer of hardcore comprised of inert demolition material which should improve drainage, plus a new sump and drainage channel has been dug at the lowest point. The overlying surface has been compressed to provide a hard surface providing improved accessibility. By creating a designated path, we reduce path creep, which can damage sensitive habitats and disrupt local wildlife. The path concentrates visitor foot traffic, minimising overall environmental impact. Providing an accessible path also enables our less able B&B visitors to explore and appreciate the beauty of the Wray Valley while fostering a deeper connection with the natural world. This connection often leads to increased awareness and a greater sense of responsibility towards the environment.

Ecology Survey

The Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey funded by the FIPL grant set to be conducted next week, will play a crucial role in assessing the habitats and ecological features of the area. This survey will help identify potential habitats for protected species and guide further conservation efforts. By understanding the local ecosystem, we can make informed decisions about land management and ensure that the unique natural beauty of Wray Valley is preserved for generations to come. Stay tuned for updates on the survey’s findings and how they will shape our future sustainability initiatives! In the meantime why not download the i-Naturalist app and record the observations you make. Once you’ve done that join the LookWild project and your observations can then be used by other organisations too to benefit wildlife. Lets try and make Wray Valley an observation hotspot!

Interpretation Boards

Elisabeth, our intern from the University of Exeter, has completed her research for the interpretation boards and once she has finished her exams will get on to creating the content. 

Sleeper Bridges

We didn’t get the four simple sleeper bridges installed over the ditches in the wood this month – but that is planned for this month and should be a lot easier now the path to the river is complete.

All this is possible thanks to a Farming in Protected Landscapes (FIPL) grant from Dartmoor National Park and funding from the via the University of Exeter’s Access to Internship scheme (A2i), in total 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.


Travel Sustainably: Reduce your carbon footprint

Kevin and Michelle waiting for the train

Those of you who follow us on social media will know all about our recent adventure to the Scilly Isles, celebrating Kevin’s birthday. This has reminded us to encourage our visitors to explore Wray Valley sustainably. Using public transportation, such as the train to Penzance and the ferry to St Mary’s not only reduced our carbon footprint but also enhanced the journey’s excitement.

We wanted to share our experience and encourage you to consider sustainable travel options when planning your visit to Wray Valley. With a bit of planning, it’s entirely possible to explore our beautiful area without a car. To help you, we’ve compiled a wealth of information on sustainable transport on our website, so you can make informed choices and contribute to the preservation of our environment. Just use the code SUSTRANS when booking and tell us how you are arriving.

And don’t worry about missing out on hot evening meals during your stay — we offer pre-booked table d’hôte dinners so you can enjoy a delicious meal and a drink after a day of exploring.


Community: A recap of the Nearly Wild Camping Club weekend

Navigation training in Storm Kathleen

Despite the ominous forecasts surrounding Storm Kathleen and unforeseen vehicle issues, the Nearly Wild Camping Club Members Weekend took place in early April, bringing together a determined group of adventurers. While the stormy predictions dissuaded some, those who attended enjoyed a remarkable weekend filled with new experiences and camaraderie. With smaller numbers, we adapted our plans to make the most of the situation. We took advantage of the opportunity to conduct some training sessions indoors and transformed our guest lounge into a cosy shelter from the storm. 

The weekend kicked off with an introduction to basic map reading and orienteering techniques around the grounds. As participants grew more confident in their newfound skills, we ventured into Wray Cleave, navigating the wood together. Keeping the inclement weather in mind, we opted for a more relaxed evening activity – a trip to the local pub in Lustleigh, where members could warm up, unwind, and bond over shared experiences. 

On the second day, we continued to build upon our navigation skills by exploring the tramway and quarries near Haytor. The culmination of the weekend was a successful micro-navigation exercise, where participants honed their abilities to locate boundary stones in the area.

Throughout the weekend, participants not only developed essential outdoor skills but also fostered new friendships and a deeper appreciation for the stunning landscapes surrounding Wray Valley. We eagerly anticipate future events that bring our community together and create lasting memories.

Don’t forget our navigation courses are bookable as bespoke experiences. 


Events in May

As well as Lustleigh May Day there are a couple of other events to look out for in the next two weeks.  First up is the 

Dartmoor Ten Tors Event

Ten Tors Map 2023

The upcoming weekend of 10-12 May is Dartmoor Ten Tors Weekend. Organized by the British Army since 1960, it brings together teams of six young people, with around 2,400 participants hiking to checkpoints on ten specified tors. The challenge consists of three different route distances based on age: 35, 45, or 55 miles. Teams must be self-sufficient, carrying all the necessary equipment and supplies to complete their route and camp overnight safely. The event aims to promote teamwork, resilience, and navigational skills among the participants while fostering a deep appreciation for the beautiful Dartmoor landscape.

However, if you are not involved in this event and still want to enjoy the peace and quiet of Dartmoor on this weekend it’s probably best to avoid Okehampton, Postbridge and the moor north of the B3212!

Rainforest Discovery Day

For something completely different, the Dartmoor National Park are laying on a Rainforest Discovery Day just down the valley at Yarner Wood on May 18th.

There will be free activities for kids and wildlife walks in Dartmoor’s woodlands. Make sure to book your spot in advance for the walks and activities. Let’s all appreciate the beauty of our woodlands, all its wildlife, it’s mosses, lichens, and all the other amazing things that you can discover. Expand your knowledge about small mammals, otters, and pine martens. Explore the nature table and bring items to identify. Don’t forget to download the i-Naturalist app to sign up for the National Park’s LookWild project and identify the wildlife you encounter.

Rainforest Discovery Day poster


More dates for your diary

There’s something happening throughout the year so why not plan your stay around a local event.  Here’s a few of the regular fixtures to get you started….

Carnival float

Many, but not all, of the links below are on Facebook


Thanks for Reading

As we wrap up this edition of our newsletter, we hope that you’ve found it an enjoyable read and encourage you to share it with friends who might also appreciate the insights and updates from Wray Valley.

Your support means the world to us, and we’d be truly grateful if you could take a moment to like and follow us on social media (@WrayValley) and subscribe to our YouTube Channel. By doing so, you’ll stay connected with our latest news, events, and developments, as well as help others discover the beauty and excitement of Wray Valley.

We wish you a wonderful time ahead, filled with unforgettable adventures, memorable experiences, and precious moments with loved ones. We look forward to sharing more stories and updates with you in the coming months and hopefully seeing you here. Until next time!

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