The picturesque landscape of Dartmoor National Park is as diverse as it is beautiful. With awe-inspiring granite tors, gushing rivers, glorious waterfalls, rolling valleys, ancient forests and picturesque views around every corner, it's an area that leaves you invigorated and inspired.
Dartmoor has far more to offer than simply an incredible landscape, though. With the largest number of archaeological remains in Europe, the abundant stone circles, menhirs, stone crosses and ancient villages whisk you back in time.
Owing to the height and geology of Dartmoor, it's been subject to very little intensive farming – so wildlife has thrived. Rare birds, butterflies and insects inhabit the skies, while little-seen lichens flourish. Dartmoor ponies are an iconic sight for any visitor too. The semi-wild herds roam the park freely, providing picture-perfect moments as they munch the grass.
Dartmoor is known for its folklore and legends. The moors are supposedly home to pixies, a headless horseman, spectral hounds, and a large black dog, to name a few. The devil was even said to have paid a visit to the postcard village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor during the Great Thunderstorm of 1638.
Possibly the most interesting fact about Dartmoor, however, is that it's the only place in England where wild camping is allowed. Thanks to the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985, individuals or small groups can camp up to two nights in places that are covered by the Commons Act (check this map to make sure your spot is covered: dartmoor.gov.uk/about-us/about-us-maps/new-camping-map). As always when it comes to wild camping, if you choose your spot sensibly – well away from roads and civilisation – take your rubbish home and do not light fires, the solitude and tranquility is all yours (just watch out for the headless horseman).
While the landscape can sometimes be challenging and extreme, it's also peaceful and leisurely; blossoming into a new character every season. Whatever the month, Dartmoor is always breathtaking. However, always be well-prepared when tackling more ambitious routes.
These seven handpicked routes serve as an introduction to this rugged and beautiful landscape. All the main points of interest are covered and, whatever mood you're in, there will definitely be something for you here.
While most of these routes are intermediate, many can be easily extended. On the classic tors of Dartmoor route, try a diversion up to the Bowerman’s Nose, a Highlight close to Haytor – or even try extending that route up to Grimspound. If you're hungry for more on the Postbridge to East Dart Waterfall route, why not try incorporating the Lower White Tor, Higher White Tor and Rough Tor? The great thing about Dartmoor is that the paths are plentiful and the attractions abundant, so get out there and start exploring.
A good base for your Dartmoor visit is the stannary town of Chagford. Renowned as a haven for artists and creative types, its 15th and 16th century buildings, independent shops, great selection of cafes and restaurants, and good public bus links make it the perfect place to explore the national park from.
This delightful route starts and finishes in Postbridge – a charming hamlet in the heart of the national park.
It boasts what is arguably the best example of a clapper bridge – an ancient form of bridge – that exists anywhere. The much-photographed span is believed to date back to medieval times and would…
by Kit P
Sheer water power, combined with geology and climate change, has carved out the awe-inspiring Lydford Gorge, the deepest in the entire South West.
So impressive is the steep-sided, wooded gorge, that it's been enjoyed by Dartmoor visitors since the Victorian times.
This leisurely stroll enables you to…
by Kit P
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
This easy-going route is a superb way to experience Dartmoor’s beauty, wildlife and history in a leisurely manner. Many of the paths have been improved to ensure that all ages and abilities can enjoy the delights of Fernworthy.
The area is home to some important wildlife habitats and is meticulously…
by Kit P
Can you remember the enchanted forests and haunted woodlands of childhood tales? If so, then prepare for your dreams to become reality. If not, it's time to remember the magic.
Wistman’s Wood is like something from a fairytale. The atmospheric woodland of dwarf oaks and jumbled boulders – covered in…
by Kit P
This route, or some variation of it, is one of the most famous in Dartmoor and the popularity is for good reason. The Teign is Dartmoor’s most iconic river and its upper valley offers sublime views and has sites including the imposing Castle Drogo and the 17th-century Fingle Bridge.
From the market town…
by Kit P
Below the rounded ridge of Hamel Down, is Grimspound, the late Bronze Age circle hut that sheltered legendary detective Sherlock Holmes when he investigated the Hound of the Baskervilles.
When you visit Grimspound today, and indeed the surrounding area, it's easy to see why author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle…
by Kit P
If this happens to be your first visit to Dartmoor, this route is the perfect introduction. If you've visited before, what better way to fall back in love with the landscape?
This superb route takes you to 10 iconic Dartmoor tors, some famous historical points, and includes plenty of fantastic views…
by Kit P
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