History of Harford Bridge Park
Up until 1850 the park was part of the Wheal Union tin mine. The old mine workings are now the site of the children's play area. In the 1930s modest camping facilities were established on what was then part of a farm attached to Harford House. At the beginning of the 1939-45 war the site was requisitioned for war use and a temporary army camp built. In the late 1940s the camp was cleared and returned to civil use.
The park is 400 feet above sea level in a very sheltered valley. One of the boundaries of the park is formed by the River Tavy, the second fastest flowing river in England. The lane from the A386 to the village of Peter Tavy forms a second boundary (the village gets its name from the church, St Peter's on the Tavy).
The present bridge over the River Tavy, at the convergence of the road and river boundaries is Harford Bridge. In 1891 an earlier bridge was washed away by storm flooding and the river changed course below it, altering the park area. The river’s change of direction was limited by a granite cliff where it also exposed an Elizabethan mine adit, now home to otters. Hedges separate the park from the Burn Meadows to the west.
The original bridge was built around 1290-1300 and the arch nearest to the village remains with the destroyed arches rebuilt in 1892; the difference in construction is noticeable. The river along the boundary has several deep holding-pools for salmon and trout.
In 1985 the Williamsons took on Harford Bridge Park from the Plumptre family. Over 35 years we have built on the foundations of a park that was first developed from the late 1940's by Major & Mrs Plumptre.
Our business strategy has always been to re-invest profits into the park's landscape and facilities so that guests achieve maximum value and enjoyment. We have strong belief in the ethos and values of sustainable tourism.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable Tourism is all about finding the right balance between welcoming visitors, and making a low impact on the environment.
At Harford Bridge Park we see our commitment to Sustainable Tourism as ensuring that a slow pace of development makes the park a lovely place to stay at, whilst the environment is safeguarded so that all its precious qualities can continue to be enjoyed for a long time to come.
We hope you share our commitment to Sustainable Tourism on Dartmoor and its surrounds and choose to stay in a well managed environment that is cherished. To mark our commitment we have engaged with the Green Tourism Award and are pending grading in Janaury 2021.
Our commitment to Sustainable Tourism
As a benchmark to demonstrate our commitment to sustainable tourism we strive retain a 'Gold' standard David Bellamy Award for Conservation which we have held since soon after its inception and for more than 20 years.
We have focused our approach to managing the park environment in three main ways:
Improve wildlife value - for example:
- Nesting boxes and hedges are maintained so that birds and hedgerow dwelling animals and insects have refuge and habitat to survive all year round.
- We now plant only native species of shrubs, trees and plants so that food and shelter is available for the wild birds, mammals and insects. In November 2019 we planted over 470 native trees in part of our wildflower meadow.
- We give nature a helping hand by seeding wild flowers and letting wild flowers flourish rather than importing garden centre species.
- Food is provided for birds and mammals when conditions are too harsh for them to survive otherwise. There are several resident hedgehogs and many, many birds that benefit as a result of active intervention.
Protect wildlife on site:
- We do not cut some grass and certain riverbank vegetation so that wild life has food and shelter in our managed landscape.
- This policy means that some non-natives, such as riverbank dwelling Mink, benefit from better cover, but we don't persecute them!
- We use pesticides or chemicals very sparingly and only on an exceptional basis. For example, to deal with issues that may affect the safety of our guests or to hold back invasive weeds on the managed grass.
Use minimum resources:
- We try to minimize the use of vehicle fuel by cutting the grass only when necessary.
- Wherever possible, staff 'walk the park' to carry out their work.
- We use energy saving technology wherever possible to minimise carbon emissions.
- Centralised waste and recycling maximises the benefits of sorted waste streams for recycling and minimises land-fill waste.
- We use the bare minimum of ornamental plants that are locally sourced and grown on.
Harford Bridge Park is part of a scheme through the Dartmoor Charter for Sustainable Tourism, which aims to encourage all establishments concerned with tourism to pledge to improve their own environment and to promote appreciation of Dartmoor. Work is ongoing to gain a Green Business Award.