Welcome to the official Piles Copse website!
Piles Copse is an ancient English oak woodland in the Erme valley on southern Dartmoor. Piles Copse is an amazing place, and a popular spot for walking, camping, swimming and picnics.
What you might not know about Piles Copse is that it is privately owned and managed, and that it is an important conservation area. It’s legally designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an Environmentally Sensitive Area, due to its rich assemblage of high level oak woodland and lichens and epiphytes.
Over recent decades, livestock grazing has prevented the woodland from regenerating, and the old trees are starting to die back. We are now working to encourage the rejuvenation of this beautiful and biodiverse oak woodland, and you can read about our ongoing projects and activities on our blog.
CAMPING REMAINS SUSPENDED AT PILES
Our decision to stop all camping at Piles Copse until at least Easter 2021 was made after seeing how well the badly damaged camping and fire sites were restoring during COVID lockdown. As we were released from that, we realised that all the gains we had made could easily be lost again. More reasons are given on the Camping page, but it is all connected with the rehabilitation and conservation work that we started early this year, and the lack of sanitation and difficulty of casualty evacuation while COVID remains prevalent.
We very much appreciate that nearly everyone has respected this decision. The result is that the areas along the riverbank look better than they have done for years. However, the most damaged sites still need more time to recover, so we will look for ways to regulate camping strictly when we do re-open it. New fire damage in October 2020 makes us reluctant to allow people to camp at Piles until we have worked out a way to get wider support for preventing abuses.
You can find out more about visiting Piles Copse here. There’s also information about Piles Copse’s history and ecology, and how its owners, the Howell family, are working to conserve this special place and enable the oak trees to regenerate.