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Solitude, hikes and starry skies — wild camping in Dartmoor National Park

franetic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Solitude, hikes and starry skies — wild camping in Dartmoor National Park

Hiking Collection by Kit P

7

Tours

25:40 h

55.7 mi

6,900 ft

Dartmoor National Park is a very special place indeed. Rugged and beautiful, the landscape is a rich tapestry of granite tors, wild moors, waterfalls, babbling brooks, rolling hills and ancient forests. It's a place where legend meets ancient history and where wildlife flourishes.

What makes Dartmoor truly special, though, is that wild camping is permitted inside the national park. This makes it the only place in England and Wales where the practice is legally allowed. As such, it's the perfect place to escape the trappings of modern life.

Thanks to the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985, individuals or small groups can camp for up to two nights without asking landowner permission. So long as you choose a spot sensibly—well away from roads and civilisation and in accordance with the wild camping map (link below)—take your rubbish home and do not light fires, the solitude and tranquility is all yours.

And what could be better than hiking deep into remote moorland and spending a night under the stars with a small group of friends, or by yourself? When the last light of day fades, revealing the twinkling galaxy above your grassy pillow, wild campers can experience a sense of solitude, silence and an incredible at-oneness with nature that is completely unrivalled.

This Collection includes three wild camping expeditions—one three-day hike with two nights camping and two two-day hikes with one night camping. Each is packed with interest and beauty, and chooses camping spots that are comfortably within areas that Dartmoor National Park Authority permits.

The hikes take you to many of the most-prized tors within the national park including: Hound Tor, an awe-inspiring granite outcrop that affords magnificent views over Dartmoor; Bowerman's Nose, the most peculiar of all the outcrops; Houndtor Medieval Village and Hound Tor Rocks; Haytor Rocks, the most photographed tor in the national park; the mystical stone circles of Grey Wethers and Fernworthy; plus lots more.

If you intend to travel via car to undertake any of these expeditions, you will need to plan ahead as you are not allowed to park on roadsides within the national park boundaries and car parks only offer 24-hour tickets maximum. A good option would be to book a hotel or hostel for a night—either before the expedition, after, or both—that allows you to park with them for the duration of the wild camping trip. You can also catch buses around, particularly to Haytor.

If you plan to arrive via public transport, Exeter St David's train station offers direct links to Bristol, London, Birmingham and further afield. From Exeter, the 173 bus has regular services to Chagford, a market town within the national park that affords good public transport links.

Finally, planning and preparation is essential for wild camping expeditions. This includes having the right equipment and navigational skills and knowing where you can camp. The best resource for checking where wild camping is permitted is the interactive camping map, which you can view via dartmoor.gov.uk/about-us/about-us-maps/new-camping-map.

—Important rules—

Avoid camping in the following areas:
Enclosed moorland
Farmland
Roadside (or within 100 m of a road)
Within sight of roads or houses
Reservoir catchment areas
Archaeological sites

Do not light fires
Use a camping stove placed on a stable rock
Be aware of fire risk
Heed fire risk warnings in place

Leave the area as you would like to find it
Take all litter home
Deal with other waste sensibly and with care
Respect the interests of those who own the land or make a living from it

For more information about wild camping in Dartmoor National Park, visit: dartmoor.gov.uk/enjoy-dartmoor/outdoor-activities/camping.
For the 173 bus timetable, visit: bustimes.org/services/173-moretonhampstead-exeter.
For Chagford bus times, visit: bustimes.org/localities/chagford.
For train timetables, visit: thetrainline.com.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Intermediate
    03:02
    6.58 mi
    2.2 mph
    650 ft
    1,150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This easy-going wild camping route explores some of Dartmoor’s most iconic sights and takes you to one of the most unusual rocky outcrops in the national park, Bowerman’s Nose.

    

    As both stages of this two-day expedition can be hiked in around three hours, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the tors, views

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:08
    6.63 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,100 ft
    700 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    After a full day of gentle downhill walking yesterday, stage two is a little more challenging. However, there's plenty to see—and lots of time—so take it steady and enjoy the day.

    You begin by hiking north up to Hunter’s Tor, a vantage point that affords incredible views over the landscape. If you're

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:03
    8.94 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,075 ft
    800 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This two-day wild camping expedition explores the remote and wildlife-rich moorland around Fernworthy.

    

    Offering ultimate solitude, ancient stone cairns, hut circles, clapper bridges, rocky outcrops, and plenty of folklore along the way, this trek through empty moors and serene woods will revitalise those

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:51
    8.66 mi
    2.2 mph
    700 ft
    975 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After a long day exploring wild moors yesterday, the second stage of this expedition is a little easier to navigate and slightly shorter. However, the terrain is still fairly challenging, so hopefully Shovel Down afforded a peaceful night.

    

    From Shovel Down, follow the footpath south into the fairytale

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:52
    8.16 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,375 ft
    1,075 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This challenging three-day wild camping exhibition explores some of Dartmoor’s most iconic sites and takes you along the trail of Sherlock Holmes.

    

    The Hound of the Baskervilles, written by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1901, took Sherlock Holmes deep into the bleak and misty moorland of Dartmoor in pursuit of

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:56
    10.9 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,025 ft
    1,475 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    After a challenging first hike, day two is a long and undulating—but gently descending—journey past more of Dartmoor’s most-prized sights.

    

    You begin by hiking west over remote and rugged moorland to the East Dart River

    . You follow it down the East Dart Valley to the village of Postbridge, where you

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    02:48
    5.85 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,000 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After two long days trekking over wild moors and sleeping under the stars, day three begins with 4 miles (6.5 km) of leisurely downhill walking through rolling patchwork fields.

    

    After leaving Rowden Down, you cross Dunstone Down to reach Widecombe in the Moor, a beautiful village with excellent cake shops

    by Kit P

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    55.7 mi
  • Duration
    25:40 h
  • Elevation
    6,900 ft

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Solitude, hikes and starry skies — wild camping in Dartmoor National Park

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