Old Meldon Pond on Dartmoor — British wild swim spots
Mountain Biking Highlight
Mountain Biking Highlight (Segment)
Bike Touring Highlight
Includes a segment that goes up or down a series of steps
You may need to carry your bike.
Includes segments in which cycling is forbidden
You will have to dismount and push your bike.
Katherine Moore planned a mountain bike ride.
April 28, 2020
Rough, remote and at times utterly inhospitable, Dartmoor is one of the few remaining rugged and wild places in the South West. Great moorland swathes of heather and pony-mown grassland host unique peak-top granite tors, while wooded valleys shelter deep green forests behind ancient dry stone walls. On a bad day, it’s remarkable that anything survives up here at all, but visit on a good day and you’ll see it’s a total haven for wildlife.In this Tour I’ve chosen the north side of Dartmoor, with a loop heading out of Okehampton on the national park’s border to the well-known Meldon Reservoir. Wild swimming is forbidden here, but look beyond the impressive dam further down the West Okement River, where close-by you’ll find Old Meldon Pond. Formed out of an old limestone quarry, here the water is deep and a lucid green, thanks to the minerals in this rock. Secluded yet not far from the Granite Way, it’s a local favourite when temperatures start to soar. This route will take you to Old Meldon Pool from nearby Okehampton, but not before taking in some excellent off-road riding for a proper taste of Dartmoor. You cannot access North Dartmoor by train, so your best bet is to either ride here from Exeter or drive up, with parking available in Okehampton for a small fee. From Okehampton, pass the legendary Fitz’s Well as you make your way up onto the moor, onto gravel roads. Cross the water at Cullever Steps ford to make your way to the gorgeous Belstone village in the east, then follow parallel to the River Taw as you climb up Oke Tor on the unpaved Steeperton Tor Road. Crossing the heart of the Okehampton Military Range on a series of unpaved roads next, you may need to adjust your route if there is any action here, with warnings given by the presence of flags and notices. Off the high ground and down to the West Okement River, you now have an optional loop over South Down on a brilliant slither of singletrack, before taking the cycle path back over the top of the impressive Meldon Viaduct, and then down to the pool. After an exhilarating dip, it’s just a short ride back into Okehampton through Old Town Park nature reserve.
April 29, 2020