Dartmoor National Park Walks
Covering 954km², Dartmoor National Park is the 11th largest national park in the UK and features a stunning landscape of open moors, craggy rock formations, and tranquil woodlands. Established as a national park in 1951, the area has become a popular destination for tourists looking to explore the rugged landscape; however, it has long been a hotbed for human activity, with remnants of early settlements that date back to the Neolithic period and Bronze Age.
While the interior of the park is fairly remote and sparsely populated, the surrounding area is filled with larger cities and towns that serve as the perfect jumping-off point to explore the park. In addition to spectacular walking routes, there are a number of other activities to be experienced here, including cycling, rock climbing, horseback riding, fishing, and camping. Whether you are simply looking to explore the trails or get invested in some local history, a trip to Dartmoor National Park is sure to be an engaging and memorable experience.
10 Amazing Walks In Dartmoor National Park
If you find yourself yearning for a rugged walking adventure in the south of England that is filled with picturesque scenery and sprinkled with unique local history, then Dartmoor National Park is the perfect place to fill your needs. The landscape here is characterized by the barren landscape of the moorland terrain that is interrupted only by rocky tors, tranquil forests, and charming villages. With a wide range of walking trails that range from short strolls to multi-day excursions, you will be sure to find the perfect trail to suit your skill level. Why not take the next step in planning your Dartmoor walking adventure by checking out this list of amazing trails that we’ve put together below:
- Castle Drogo and Cod Wood Circular Walk: Arguably one of the most popular walks in Dartmoor National Park, this route will take you through a scenic forest landscape and past several historic sites, including the 20th Century Castle Drogo and Fingle Bridge.
- Wistman's Wood Walk: This fascinating walk will take you across the moor and along the West Dart River to visit an ancient wood that is filled with trees that are hundreds of years old. The atmosphere here is almost magical, just don’t get too close to the forest, as it is populated with hard to spot adders!
- Fisherman's Path to Fingle Bridge: Another lovely walking route near Castle Drogo, the Fisherman’s Path to Fingle Bridge is a history-fuelled adventure that also features beautiful views of the surrounding woodland landscape.
- Dewerstone Walk: This rugged walking route in Dartmoor will see you climb uphill through the forest along the River Plym to reach the craggy area surrounding Dewerstone Rock. A popular destination for rock climbing enthusiasts, Dewerstone Rock was historically believed to be the spot where the devil and his hounds chased local inhabitants over the precipice to their demise.
- Haytor Quarry Loop: Offering a nice mix of local history and stunning views, the Haytor Quarry Loop will take you uphill to the rocky summit of Haytor, before descending to a quarry that was used in reconstructing the London Bridge.
- Hound Tor Walk: This short uphill walking route will see you traverse the rugged terrain of the moor to reach the rocky summit of Hound Tor. Here, you will experience panoramic views that sweep across the undulating landscape of Dartmoor.
- Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walk: A challenging route with a scenic reward, the Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walk is a fun adventure that will see you climb uphill alongside a river to reach several stunning vantage points overlooking the park.
- Burrator Reservoir Circular Walk: This walking route is perfect for a fun family adventure, as the paths here are well-maintained and the terrain isn’t very difficult. Along the trail, you will walk around the edge of a scenic reservoir and cross over two dam walls that offer pleasant views across the water.
- Burrator Reservoir and Princetown Walk: Another walk in the vicinity of the Burrator Reservoir, this trail is far longer and much more challenging, as it takes you across several rugged tors to the town of Princetown and back. Although it may be difficult, the trail offers an amazing chance to explore the beautifully scenic Dartmoor landscape.
- Spitchwick Manor Circular Walk: This fun adventure in Dartmoor will lead you through the park along peaceful rivers and through historic estates for views overlooking the surrounding landscape of the park. There are a few short uphill climbs to the top of nearby tors; however, these are manageable and make for a fun journey that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
When is the Best Time to Walk in Dartmoor National Park?
As it is located relatively close to the coast, Dartmoor National Park sees favourable temperatures (℃) year-round, generally ranging from the low single digits in the winter to the high teens in the summer. Some higher elevation areas across the moor can be quite exposed to the elements, which means that inclement weather will often be a factor in determining when to set out on a walking trip here. In order to see the most favourable conditions, you will likely want to plan your adventure in Dartmoor National Park during the May-September window. This will ensure that the trails are at their driest and temperatures are at their warmest.
Other Outdoor Activities in Dartmoor National Park
While walking the breathtakingly scenic trails is probably the most popular activity in Dartmoor National Park, there are a number of other activities that can be sought out to maximize your time spent here. The undulating terrain of the region makes for fun and often challenging cycling routes, and the rocky crags found atop many tors offer the perfect setting for rock climbing. Horseback riding, fishing, camping, and stargazing are other fun activities in the park, offering a wealth of reasons why you should make Dartmoor the location of your next adventure.
Adventure Holidays in Dartmoor National Park
When it comes to planning a lengthy outdoor excursion in an unfamiliar place, sometimes it is best to leave the logistics and specifics of the trip to the professionals. If you find yourself wanting to experience the natural beauty of Dartmoor National Park and the surrounding area with a guide, why not explore these exceptional adventure tours in South West England.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dartmoor National Park
Is Dartmoor National Park Free?
Yes. There is no admission fee to enter the park and there is a wide range of activities in the area that can be done for free.
Where is Dartmoor National Park?
Dartmoor National Park is an upland area that can be found in southern Devon County in the southwest of England.
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Best Hikes in Dartmoor National Park
Castle Drogo and Cod Wood Circular Walk
The Castle Drogo and Cod Wood Circular Walk is one of the most amazing routes in all of Dartmoor National Park, due in part to its wealth of historic sites, but also because of its breathtaking scenery. While out on the trail, you will pass by the extravagant 20th Century grounds of Castle Drogo before making your way through a steep-sloped valley along the River Teign. There may be a few ups and downs along the trail, but the scenic highlights are well worth the small amount of required effort
Wistman’s Wood Walk
If you enjoy lovely riverside walks that just so happen to pass through a swathe of ancient forest featuring trees that are hundreds of years old, then the Wistman’s Wood Walk is the perfect route for you. While out exploring this trail, you will walk along the banks of the West Dart River and take in views of the surrounding moorland terrain before traversing the moss-covered expanse of Wistman’s Wood to make the return leg of the journey on the opposite side of the river. An afternoon on this route is a great way to reconnect with nature in the beautiful, rugged, and sometimes spooky landscapes of Dartmoor National Park.
Haytor Quarry Loop
The Haytor Quarry Loop is a great walking route in Dartmoor National Park that will lead you uphill across some rugged terrain for amazing views across the park. While out walking the trail, you will climb up to the rocky summit of Haytor before making your way through a historic quarry that was mined for gritstone in the early 19th Century. This is a fun walk for those who enjoy scenic views and local history.
Burrator Reservoir Circular Walk
Walking the Burrator Reservoir Circular is a lovely adventure in the southwest corner of Dartmoor National Park that will take you on a laidback route for some wonderfully scenic views. While out on the trail, you will walk across two separate dams and traverse the edge of the reservoir, enjoying scenic views across the water and surrounding hills. The relatively flat and well-maintained pathways here make this a great adventure for the entire family.
Burrator Reservoir and Princetown Walk
The Burrator Reservoir and Princetown Walk is a difficult adventure in Dartmoor National park that will see you traverse a lengthy stretch of trail across several rugged tors. Covering an area that stretches north from the Burrator Reservoir to King’s Tor and east across the moor to Princetown, you will have a fair amount of ground to cover on this beautifully scenic walk through the Devon countryside. Don’t forget to bring some pocket change, as there just might be an ice cream truck near the end of the walk at Norsworthy bridge to reward you for your hard efforts.
Fisherman’s Path to Fingle Bridge
Walking the Fisherman’s Path to Fingle Bridge is a beautifully scenic adventure in Dartmoor National Park that is filled with picturesque scenery and local history. While out on the trail, you will traverse the countryside and take in stunning views of Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England, before continuing along the winding banks of the River Teign to visit the 17th Century Fingle Bridge. This wonderful walking route will appeal to anyone with a love for the outdoors or an interest in history.
Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walk
The Meldon Reservoir and Black Tor Walk is a spectacular adventure in Dartmoor National Park that will expose you to some breathtaking views of the rugged landscape that can be found here. The trail sets out from the car park and travels along the edge of the charming reservoir before climbing uphill through some rugged terrain along the West Okement River to traverse Black Tor and Longstone Hill. This is an arduous journey, but the epic views are more than worth the trouble.
Hound Tor Walk
The Hound Tor Walk is a quick and easy adventure in Dartmoor National Park that will lead you uphill for stunning views of the surrounding countryside. While out on the trail, you will climb up the grassy and rock-covered hillside in relatively short order to eventually be subjected to some lovely views that sweep across the undulating terrain of the park. Whether you are a beginner walker or seasoned outdoor enthusiast looking for a short adventure, the Hound Tor Walk is a great option that provides a quick rush.
Spitchwick Manor Circular Walk
Walking the Spitchwick Manor Circular is a fun journey through the Devon countryside that will consistently expose you to some of the beautiful locales that can be found within Dartmoor National Park. While out on the trail, you will walk along winding rivers, traverse historic estate grounds, and climb up the rugged tors that characterize the landscape here. This is a fun walk to do when your main aim is to simply get out on the trails and enjoy nature.
Cadover Bridge to Shaugh Bridge Circular Walk
The Cadover Bridge to Shaugh Bridge Circular Walk is a great family-friendly adventure in Dartmoor National Park that will see you traverse some rugged terrain and experience some breathtaking views. While out on the trail, you will climb uphill to reach the rugged viewpoint atop Dewerstone Rock before heading through the forest to meander along the banks of the River Plym. This is a wonderfully scenic journey that will truly allow you to get lost in the beauty of nature.
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