Dartmoor at any time of year is a wonderfully magical place but in the summer with the young foals grazing, the wild flowers growing and blue skies over head, it is a lovely place to spend a few hours immersing yourself in nature. Whether you’re looking for the perfect picnic spot or you want to try some of the adventure activities on offer on the moor, there is plenty to see and do, and one of our favourite things to do on Dartmoor is to follow the various walking routes. With visitor centres on hand to help with self-guided walks and organised groups to show off the best routes and a commitment to improve accessibility as part of the Miles without Stiles initiative, everyone can join in.
Here are a selection of our favourite Dartmoor walks that are suitable for all manner of abilities.
Becky Falls walk
We’re kicking off our list with this walk around the famous Becky Falls, which is one of the more popular landmarks on Dartmoor. There are several different trails available around the site so you can choose how adventurous you want to be and there are trails designed for children too, so the whole family can join in. There is an entry price to see the Falls, but once you’re in you can take part in a range of activities at no extra charge.
Lydford Gorge Walk
While we’re on the subject of waterfalls, Lydford Gorge is home to another equally stunning waterfall known as the White Lady. The walk to the waterfall is relatively short and picturesque, so is a good one for beginners or those on time restrictions. It is around 2 miles in total and you can start from the Lydford Gorge carpark, managed by the National Trust. Follow the waymarked trail towards the river and on to the Gorge. You can even make it a circular walk by crossing the river and walking along the paths on the opposite side.
Dartmoor Princetown Walk
This is another relatively easy walk, though it does include some gentle inclines and gravel surfaces. The walk will take you over the top of the moor towards South Hessary Tor where there are some incredible view, on a clear day, you can even see down to the sea.
Perhaps one of the most atmospheric places on the moor, depending on the season, Whistman’s Wood can look completely different. We love it in the winter months when it is foggy and creepy looking but it is equally as beautiful during the summer. There is a four mile walk through the wood that starts at the car park near the Two Bridges Hotel which will take you up through Longaford Tor. This walk is around 4 miles and is very uneven, so do take care.
Believed to be the inspiration behind the Hound of the Baskervilles, Hound Tor is a wonderfully picturesque outcrop which is easily accessible and has some incredible views of the surrounding area. The route we recommend begins at the Haytor Vale visitor centre where there is parking for those of you who aren’t local to the moor. You can follow the trail towards Haytor Rocks and the Haytor Granite Tramway which eventually leads on to Hound Tor.
On route, you’ll pass the remains of a medieval village, with houses and barns still visible. The view from Hound Tor are really quite special so this is a great walk if you’re up for it.
The deserted village
As mentioned, there is a deserted medieval village near Hound Tor which is also accessible on the walking trail towards Hound Tor. If you don’t want to go all the way to the Tor.
For a lovely riverside walk with a shaded woodland, head to River Erme which is just on the outskirts of Ivybridge. This walk isn’t a particularly well known one, but it is one of the prettiest, the river itself is a mountain river that rises on Dartmoor and then flows down to the sea. Start off by following the 17 mile Erme Plym Trail from Ivybridge to Laira Bridge near Plymouth.
If the idea of discovering something prehistoric excites you, visit Grimspound, which dates back to the Bronze Age and features the remains of 24 roundhouses. Start the walk from Bennett’s Cross where there is a car park and then follow the site towards the village of Postbridge and then get onto the Two Moors Way waymarked footpath and follow it east passing Birch Tor on the way. The trail passes over Hookney Tor before arriving at the village which is now managed by the Dartmoor National Park Authority.
The highest point south of the Peak District in the whole of England, this one is a bit of a challenging walk so not one for the light hearted. If you’re up for the walk though, there are some amazing views from the top of the summit, not surprising considering that it is 621 metres high! For this walk, start at Meldon Reservoir, and then climb Longstone Hill towards Black Tor. The route will take you to the summit of High Willhays and has some incredible views over Dartmoor. You can descend via Yes Tor and then Okehampton Common back towards the reservoir.
Located just off the A38, this one is easy to reach by car and has some lovely views especially in the summertime when the trees are all green. This is a good choice for anyone who wants to escape the bustle for some peace and quiet. The woodland runs along the River Dart and if you fancy more of a challenge, you can continue onwards through the wood towards White Wood and then on to the Venford Reservoir.