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Explore Ausewell Wood

Autumn trees at Ausewell Woods, Devon
Autumn trees at Ausewell Woods | © National Trust Images/Mick Jones

Located on the side of a Dartmoor valley along the River Dart, Ausewell Wood contains 342 acres of wild, rugged woodland and heath with dramatic rocky outcrops, boulders and screes and damp temperate rainforest. Find out more about the Wood’s rich wildlife and history, and the best ways to access it if you’d like to visit.

Abundant in wildlife and history

Ausewell Wood is a valuable wildlife site and a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) where key species such as redstarts, lesser spotted woodpeckers, pied flycatchers and the elusive hazel dormouse have taken refuge from human activity.

The site is also rich in history, with two cairns listed as Scheduled Monuments, important stone circles, old mine workings including a copper mine near the river, and on old hematite ore mine representing the site of the earliest blast furnace in the UK.

Cairn at Ausewell Woods, Devon
Cairn at Ausewell Woods | © National Trust Images/Mel Peters

Joining forces to purchase the Wood

When Ausewell Wood came onto the market, the National Trust and Woodland Trust, as at nearby Fingle Woods, joined forces to buy, protect and enhance this precious habitat, together with the wildlife found here.

The National Trust was able to secure the purchase with generous gifts in wills whilst the Woodland Trust was fortunate to have a supportive foundation take on ownership on their behalf for a limited period. The Woodland Trust needed to raise £1 million to take over ownership and launched a fundraising appeal to achieve it.

The charities together continue to fundraise to ensure the long-term survival of the endangered plants and animals living in the wood.

Slug on thistle at Ausewell Woods, Devon
Slug on thistle at Ausewell Woods | © National Trust Images/Mick Jones

The Wood’s more unusual wildlife

This special site is home to a number of unusual animals that thrive in its rainforest conditions.

Barbastelle bats hunt flying insects here, and the moisture is perfect for molluscs like the ash-black slug – the largest slug species in the world. Huge nests of southern red wood ants can also be found in the wood.

Access and parking

You can explore Ausewell Woods from the main entrance and car park just north of Ausewell Cross. There is another pedestrian entrance about 500m to the south of this entrance. These are the only public entrances to the wood. There is no access from the public highway at Waterturn.

There is one car park just north of Ausewell Cross with space for six cars. Nb. this car park has a height barrier at the entrance.

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