The Brentor Commons have an ancient origin, and formed an important part of the original parish of Brentor prior to the enlargement of the parish in the 1880s. They occupy a site of high landscape value on a ridge between Brent Tor and the Lyd Valley area of outstanding natural beauty. They command excellent views across to St Michael de Rupe and northwest Dartmoor.
Bowden Down SX 467 820 11.4 hectares (28.2 acres)
This fairly level area of degraded lowland heath is cut into two segments by a north-south road. It was the site of mining for manganese and ochre in the nineteenth century and the remnants of mining shafts and open cast workings remain. The western segment sports a fine display of bluebells in the spring and has remnants of the original heather cover. Small pearl bordered fritillaries and possibly pearl bordered fritillaries have been recorded here in the early summer. It is also an excellent location for watching cuckoos in the spring.
Liddaton Down SX 458 820 6.5 hectares (16.1 acres).
This area of rough uneven land, 500m to the west of Bowden Down, is cut into four segments by cross roads. The land slopes steeply down to a stream in the south and towards the Lyd Valley in the north. There are three small quarries in the south-east segment, the largest of which is flooded and is known as Liddaton Pond. The northwest segment has a two-acre bluebell meadow.
The Brentor Commons Association (BCA)
The freehold of these two areas of common land was purchased by public subscription in June 2004 under the auspices of the Brentor Commons Trust (BCT) with the aid of a grant from the Dartmoor Preservation Association. Responsibility for the land was passed to The Brentor Commons Association in April 2005.The Association has 28 members and is a registered charity (number 1108422) whose objects are:
To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of Bowden Down and Liddaton Down, Brentor in the County of Devon (“The Brentor Commons”).
To advance the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of The Brentor Commons.
This work is subject to the lawful rights of the commoners, who have a long-standing interest in the agricultural use of the land.
The Downs were areas of degraded lowland heath when they were acquired by the Association in 2004. The main priorities have therefore been scrub clearance and the identification and restoration of a wider range of habitats. The presence of unfenced roads and the lack of cattle grids make grazing impossible on both sites. The work must be done manually and in these activities management and education go hand-in-hand.