Harford Moor is an area of moorland in the southernmost part of Dartmoor National Park. It covers around 500 hectares, running along the east bank of the River Erme. Like most of Dartmoor, it’s been privately owned since the 1700s, and it’s now owned by the Howell family at Lukesland. Harford Moor is a ‘common of pasture’ – this means that local farmers have the right to graze livestock on it. There are currently 9 active graziers on Harford Moor.
Harford Moor is home to an amazing range of archaeology. This includes including burial cists and cairns, stone rows and hut circles from the Bronze Age. There are also the remains of Medieval farms, roads, waymarkers and stone streamings, as well as the remains of leats, blowing houses and other infrastructure from the tin streaming industry. In the early twentieth century a railway was built to extract china clay from Red Lake, just beyond the northern boundary of Harford Moor, and Left Lake, on the eastern boundary, and there’s still a track on its former course (known locally as the ‘Puffing Billy’ track).
Harford Moor also has huge environmental and ecological importance. The tops of the hills and the upper reaches of the moor are covered in peat – a rich type of soil, which is a vital carbon store and acts like a sponge, helping to prevent flooding downstream. The moor’s plant life (although it might not look very exciting at first glance) includes a wide array of grasses and mosses, and creates habitat for wildlife, especially birds.