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About Harford Bridge Park

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.

Independent ownership

In 1985 the Williamsons took on Harford Bridge Park from the Plumptre family.  For more than 25 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.

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 16 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.
  • 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.

Guest Feedback

Here is some 2014 guest feedback provided to us directly, other online reviews of Harford Bridge Park are publicly available: ...

• “… Despite 24 hrs of pretty bad rain on arrival we weren't disappointed.  The facilities were always clean, despite potential for muddy boot marks! The play area is great and safe and our 5 yr old happily played amongst the other children.  Spacious pitches and pleasant surroundings.  Nice low sinks for little ones which you don't often find.  A great place to relax with or without children. All dogs well behaved.  We enjoyed swimming in Tavistock and a walk on the moor near Peter Tavy.  We would recommend this site for like-minded people and will definitely return. My son insists it's his favourite site! … .”

• “… I am pleased to say that Simon and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at your very peaceful and relaxing site at Harford Bridge.  The welcome we received was warm and genuine  ….  The relaxed but efficient atmosphere makes one feel at home immediately.  The shop is ideal with immediate 'wants' catered for....the Duck Eggs a special treat. … Lazy walks by the river watching the wildlife, especially the antics of the Harford Bridge Ducks, enjoying the flora and fauna and taking many interesting photographs all made for a feeling of well-being which lasted throughout our stay.  All the facilities are very clean and very well looked after.  We like Harford Bridge ..... so much so we have already re-booked for July ...”

• “… We very much enjoyed our stay at Harford Bridge.  What a lovely site!  The shower blocks were the very best we have ever seen - particularly liked the 2 compartments as this meant our clothes stayed nice and dry.  Very spacious and lots of hot water - fantastic!  We will definitely stay again.”

• “ … I have been camping at Harford Bridge since at least the '70's …. We all love the moor and there are so many wonderful attractions in the surrounding area.  The campsite itself and its facilities are excellent - we especially love the riverside camping:-) there's nothing like drifting off to sleep and waking up with the sound of the river right next to u. I loved being there as a child, and my children now love it just as much.  There is absolutely nothing any of us would want to change at the camp site.  I look forward to many more years camping at Harford Bridge with children and grandchildren!

• “ … Lovely site with easy access to Dartmoor.  Thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the Shepherd's Hut, it was lovely to come back a warm, dry cosy place to sleep after a soaking day out on the moors!"

• “Even though we only stayed for 3 nights at Harford Bridge, we had a lovely time.  The site is spotless, it's in a lovely location - next to the river and not far from the moors for walks.  I found everyone at the site really friendly.  My daughter loved it.  When she wasn't visiting somewhere with us we didn't see her.  She was off playing with other children in the park.  She was most upset when we had to leave.  We look forward to coming back soon.”

• “… we really enjoyed our recent visit albeit only for 2 nights ….  We have been to your site several times a 10 or so years ago and enjoyed it then, it ranks as one of our TOP sites and we will be back again this year, the site is lovely and the facilities are meticulous – we were very impressed with the shower and toilet block so clean and fresh which means a lot.  My wife and I both thought that Harford Bridge should be our first stay over before even talking to each other as we have fond memories from our previous trips pre kids!!  We look forward to coming again really soon!!”

The David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme

It was conceived in 1996. The first awards took place in 1997 when Harford Bridge Park gained silver.  Since then we have achieved gold in consecutive years to date, being one of first few parks in the country to do so.  In 2013 we were awarded a 'Special Distinction' for the way our landscaping had been combined with wildlife conservation.

The aims and objectives of the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme should speak for themselves, but the underlying drivers are not quite so obvious.

It is of great importance that tourism, particularly in unique Dartmoor, does not harm the countryside, rather do everything possible to enhance, improve and sustain it.  Hence the term sustainable tourism.

We on the park have felt this way from the beginning of our ownership in 1985.  It was therefore relatively easy for us to become fully involved with the scheme.

Conservation is very good business practice - it helps save money and provides a strong foundation element of our business strategy.

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What our guests say:

"Hello. We have just spent another glorious week camping at the Harford Bridge site in Devon. This is our 3rd stay in 4 years at this site and I am pleased to say it improves every time. You really get the sense that your site fees go into the improvement of the park. Excellent facilities, quiet location and friendly, unobtrusive staff. The wildlife is fabulous. We always try and pitch at the side of the river where over the years we have seen, amongst others, Dippers, Nuthatch, Tree Creepers, Kingfishers, and a variety of Bats and this year even a family of Mink had moved to the river bank. Not every ones favourite but incredible to watch all the same. All in all a great site that's highly recommended. We shall return. Thank You."

Anonymous feedback via David Bellamy Conservation Award scheme 2010.

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