Swale burning or swaling has been carried out in Devon for thousands of years, since prehistoric settlers first brought their livestock here.

Today swaling is still carried out on moorland and rare patches of traditional grassland called Culm. Here at Southcombe Farm we have two culm meadows which are county wildlife sites. These meadows are extremely rich in wildflowers and wildlife and are looked after using traditional methods.


Burning is carried out most winters between the beginning of November and the end of March. It gets rid of old growth and promotes the new. Regular burning also prevents build up of large amounts of combustable debris which if ignited could cause a more dangerous wildfire.

This year we carried out our burn on the 17th of March after it had been dry for a few weeks and a strong westerly wind was blowing.

After giving the Fire Brigade notice of our intentions the fires were lit!

Within a few hours everything was burned out and clear for new Spring growth.

Today, just a few weeks later, the vigorous Spring growth is coming through. In a few more weeks the area will be a lush green bed full of wildlife and wild flowers.

In fact May and June are a great time to visit us as the wild flowers are amazing. Everything from Bluebells to Marsh Orchids on the farm trail!

After burn culm