Dartmoor Expands Public Access with Addition of New Common Land

In a landmark decision for conservation and public access, Dartmoor has officially expanded its common land by 85 acres, following a successful campaign led by the Open Spaces Society (OSS).

Announced on 28 February 2024, this addition marks a significant victory for outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists alike, granting greater freedom to explore the breathtaking landscapes of Dartmoor.

The newly designated common land comprises three parcels located east and south of Willsworthy car park and at Black Lion Common near Zoar Methodist Chapel.

This achievement underscores the importance of preserving open spaces for public enjoyment and ecological sustainability.


The campaign, spearheaded by historian Frances Kerner of the OSS, involved rigorous examination of historical documents to establish the land’s status as “waste land of a manor,” a necessary condition for its registration as common land.

Kerner’s efforts were instrumental in restoring these parcels to Blackdown Common, particularly highlighting the significance of Black Lion Common.

Previously isolated from Blackdown Common and not designated as access land, its inclusion in the register of common land is a noteworthy accomplishment.

Kate Ashbrook of the OSS lauded Kerner’s diligence, emphasising that while the parcels may be modest in size, their correct classification is crucial for maintaining public access and the integrity of common land.

This development not only enhances the natural spaces available for public exploration within Dartmoor but also highlights the ongoing commitment to protecting and celebrating the UK’s common lands.

The addition of these lands to Dartmoor’s common land registry is a testament to the collective efforts of conservationists, historians, and the community.

It ensures that Dartmoor’s stunning landscapes will continue to be accessible for hiking, nature observation, and outdoor recreation, enriching the experience of visitors and safeguarding the area’s natural beauty for future generations.

As Dartmoor welcomes these new areas of common land, the move is celebrated as a step forward in the conservation of the UK’s cherished outdoor spaces, ensuring they remain open and accessible to all.

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