Green Travel Guide to Dartmoor National Park

Words by Paul Bloomfield.
Artwork for Green Traveller's Guides by Tina Smith and Mark Edwards.

Foreword by Richard Drysdale, Visitor Services Manager, Dartmoor National Park Authority

Covering an area of 954 sq km (368 sq miles), Dartmoor contains the largest and wildest area of open country in the south of England. By virtue of its outstanding natural beauty it is one of the 15 National Parks of England and Wales.

For the millions of visitors each year it is the distinctive qualities of Dartmoor that attract them including the swirling mists, granite tors, wide open spaces, attractive towns and villages, deep bogs, ponies, a grim-looking prison, Sherlock Holmes and many other images that are conjured when thinking of Dartmoor.

Today, following on from the early coach trips of the 1920’s, visitors come to the many popular locations including Haytor, Dartmeet, Postbridge and Lydford Gorge, and enjoy everything from sightseeing and leisurely strolls to more active pursuits such as mountain biking, rock climbing and longer treks.

Recreation and tourism play an important part in the life of Dartmoor and this means careful management and ensuring that people understand the special qualities of the National Park. Whilst many people do travel to Dartmoor by private car there are a wealth of opportunities for walking, cycling and relaxing in the towns and villages from a variety of quality accommodation.

More information on Dartmoor can be found at the three National Park Visitor Centres at Princetown, Postbridge and Haytor.

What our writers discovered in Dartmoor National Park

Sweeping empty expanses, granite tors pocking the skyline, deep wooded valleys with turbulent rivers: Dartmoor is a vast and stunning landscape. Superb walking trails crisscross the region, including the Two Moors Way and West Devon Way. Cycle routes, such as the New Dartmoor Way, allow cyclists to navigate through beautiful valleys and hills, past mysterious woods, and into rural villages where welcoming B&Bs, hotels, guest cottages and inviting pubs await. Shaped by thousands of years of human habitation, Dartmoor is a historical as well as natural marvel, home to prehistoric hut circles, menhirs, cists and cairns and stone rows.

Stay, Eat, See & Do

Our pick of places across the glorious Dartmoor National Park
 

Written by Paul Blooomfield

Google Map Key:
Click on the coloured icons for more information about each listing
Green = Places to stay; Blue = Places to eat; Yellow = Attractions; Purple = Activities

Click on the square brackets top right of map to reveal expanded map

  • Dartmoor contains the largest area of wild open space in Southern England and has the highest point - High Willhays at 621 meters above sea level.
     

  • Dartmoor is about the same size as London: it is about 20 miles (32 kilometres) from top to bottom (or north to south) and 20 miles (32 kilometres) across (west to east).
     

  • There are over 50,000 sheep, ponies and cows grazing on the common land of Dartmoor. That means there are more grazing animals living on Dartmoor than people!
     

  • There are nearly 450 miles of footpaths/ bridleways on Dartmoor. If you walked them all it would be like doing the London Marathon 18 times
     

  • You can wild camp on Dartmoor – one of the few places in the UK. There are a few simple rules (see http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/visiting/vi-enjoyingdartmoor/camping) but follow those and then enjoy big skies and an even bigger Dartmoor experience.
     

  • Dartmoor’s landscape is of great archaeological importance , with over 19,000 entries on the Historic Environment Record and the highest concentration of bronze age remains in Western Europe.

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