Discovering our landscape

Soldiers and sailors walk

Holbeton village

Exploring Wembury

Wembury Primary School


We worked with the communities in Holbeton and Wembury to help them map their local area in a variety of different ways as part of a wider European project called Cordiale, a cross border initiative working on sustainable landscape management.


This project gave us an opportunity to interact with a wider range of people and organisations in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), to inform them of our work and encourage their participation. Helping communities to understand more about their landscape also provides an effective way for more widespread lobbying for landscape quality.


Wembury beachLocal communities need to be able to competently and confidently feed in their views about landscape, as part of the National Planning Policy Framework or AONB Management Planning.

To facilitate this they need to be engaged in and connected with that landscape, with a good understanding of the value and benefits which that landscape brings.

Helping communities to understand more about their landscape structure was a driver of the tools we selected.

Project areas

We chose two contrasted parishes to take part in this project.

  • Holbeton – An estuary / coastal parish with traditional tenant farms and houses, exposed to little major change over the past decades. Population of 500 people. The parish is home to 25 farms including part-time farmers.
  • Wembury – Located on the open coastal plateau on the south-eastern Plymouth fringe, with extensive National Trust and Ministry of Defence land and farms. Significant amounts of housing built in the 1950s and 60s. Wembury has a population of 3000 and new housing proposed.

How the project was delivered

Wembury Storymakers Project - CoastalPoetsThe project had to be:

  • Flexible and designed to fit with the organic nature of the project.
  • A fun, enjoyable experience which got people out into their landscape to explore, discover and connect with it.
  • Inclusive and appeal to a cross section of the community.
  • Easy to participate in.

A key element of this project was that, due to the design of the activities, we were able to place people in exact spots to ask their opinion of that landscape. This meant we could accurately test and compare perceptions of particular landscape character types and views.

The project was delivered through four themes:

  • Explore
  • Discover
  • Understand
  • Share


Holbeton Primary School, Sense of Place project.The activities below were selected as they encourage people to explore landscapes in their local area and collect their perceptions of landscape character.

1. The Great Landscape Quest

  • A fun, free, interactive way to explore a local area.
  • Open to anyone, but can be tailored to meet needs of particular users.
  • No limits on time or numbers of participants.

The quest was made up of three main activities:

  • Landscape Challenges - activities for people to investigate their perceptions of local landscape. This included finding something amazing on a walk and either collecting it, taking a photo of it, drawing the location or writing words to describe the landscape in which it was found.
  • Landscape Letterboxes – similar to geocaching, it encouraged participants to explore their landscape and find hidden boxes. At each location they were invited to rate the view and describe how it made them feel in three words.
  • The Big Feature – asked participants to look at key features of a view and rate them. It also encouraged them to think about how the view would be affected if key features were removed.

2. Landscape Geocaches

This was a project by students from Plymouth University to set up a series of geocaches across the South Devon AONB to encourage people to explore the parish and record and share their perceptions and views of the landscape.

3. Rate My View App

Pioneering new app developed by South Devon AONB, with the support of Plymouth University, to record and share views and perceptions of the landscape.


Flete House exploring walk, Sense of Place project.Following the activities above a number of sessions were held with participants to help them find out stories behind their landscape.

This was followed by discovery walks around the parish to explore the ‘hidden’ landscape. These included farm walks, history walks, and walks with an expert.


A number of more involved projects were carried out over a longer period of time, working with partners to explore a particular subject.

  • Holbeton village evolution study – working with Plymouth University and Holbeton school, iPads were used to map, date and geolocate buildings in the village to show the evolution of the parish through it’s buildings.
  • Wembury Storymakers – artist Sara Hurley and school pupils used landscape as inspiration to create stories and poetry.

Further development building on previous work was also undertaken.

For example, The Big Feature, an element of the Quest, was expanded to include looking at key features of a view, breaking them down into component parts and placing values on them.

This was further expanded to look at how new initiatives could be placed into this landscape, such as renewable energy installations and comparison of landscape character types.

By developing good relationships with the local communities, and engaging them in this project, we have been able to identify projects and funding to continue work in these parishes in the future.


Screengrab of Google map showing material gathered as part of the Cordiale project.All of the material gathered through this project has been geolocated to its point of source and has been put onto a Cordiale interactive map.

This has created a geographical pinboard of people’s experiences, perceptions and feelings about their place.

It shows material that was collected, created, shared, written, drawn, told and captured over the duration of the project, and represents the community’s own sense of place.