Explore Dartmoor

When you think of Dartmoor, no doubt your mind immediately goes to the wild ponies, but there is so much more to this beautiful landscape than the wildlife or the dramatic-looking scenery. Dartmoor is full of history and heritage to explore, with records for this part of Devon going back to Neolithic times.

Dartmoor National Park

This unique area of moorland is one of the remaining areas of Britain that is truly wild, full of stunning views, wooded valleys, rivers and tors it is a magical and relaxing place to be. With the vast expanse of moorland that stretches out as far as the eye can see, Dartmoor is sure to awaken the explorer in you.

The largest number of archaeological remains in Europe can be found in Dartmoor, with many ancient villages and museums to whet your appetite for history and culture. There are a large number of stone circles, stone crosses and menhirs. It is also home to all manner of wildlife and various parts of the famous moor are Special Areas of Conservation. Get your cameras at the ready for visiting the Zoological park, the River Dart Country Park or Lydford Gorge, whether you’re a professional or amateur photographer, it is easy to capture the natural beauty of the region.

It doesn’t matter where you go in Dartmoor, you’ll come across a quaint village or bustling market town complete with its own history and customs. In Central Dartmoor, you’ll find places like Buckland on the Moor, Dartmeet, Poundsgate, Princeton, Widcombe in the Moor and Postbridge. To the west are the larger towns of Tavistock and Yelverton, as well as smaller settlements, like Brentor, Lewdown, Mary Tavy and Peter Tavy. South of Dartmoor you’ll find more well known areas, Buckfast, Buckfastleigh, TotnesAshburton, Holne, Ivybridge, South Brent and Lustleigh. The north of the Moor features places like Lydford, Okehampton, South Tawton, Sticklepath and others and to the east, you’ll find Bovey Tracy, Chagford, Ilsington and Moretonhampstead among more. There are plenty of things to do. 

 

Dartmoor Ponies

The ponies that roam around the moor are an iconic sight for anyone visiting. In the spring months, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the new foals playing together against a beautiful backdrop. Though an encounter with the pure breed Dartmoor Ponies, who have wondered the land for centuries is always a special experience, it is important to remember that they are semi wild and Dartmoor is their home, so while it is encouraged to have picnics, go on walks and enjoy the uninterrupted scenery, bear in mind to leave it as you found it.

Dartmoor is a family friendly destination, with many attractions from Tree Surfers, full of cross rope bridges, zip lines, walkways and Tarzan swings to challenge and excite you, to the historic South Devon Railway, where you can reminisce with a steam train trip, to Trago Mills, where you can enjoy a family fun park and discounted shopping.  

Want to visit specifically to see the ponies? Well, how about getting acquainted with a range of cute animals at Pennywell Farm?

Fancy getting into the great outdoors? How about showing off your inner daredevil with a boating trip on Roadford Lake? This lake is the largest inland water in the south west and includes everything from boating to den building and exploring the surrounding woodland.

Walks in Dartmoor

Visitors wanting a walking holiday need look no further than the Forestry Commission’s Bellever Forest. Choose from one of the way marked walking trails or join the historic bridleway, The Lich Way. You can find free downloadable audio walks for Postbridge and Bellever on Dartmoor National Park’s website and keep your eyes peeled for the numerous archaeological sites to discover as you explore. If cycling is more your bag, Bike Guide Devon should be your first port of call.

If you’re looking for something a bit cosier, you can take a stroll around the many picturesque villages to be found in this part of Devon. Many villages still have thatched cottages, traditional old pubs, like the Arundell Arms Hotel, market towns, cobbled streets and everything you need to be transported into a simpler time. But if that sounds a bit too quaint for you, there are also two major cities within a fifteen minute’s drive. 

Not content with having all of that going for it, Dartmoor is also perfect for those who enjoy a pop culture reference. The literary greats, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, used Dartmoor for inspiration, Sherlock Holmes’ adventure with the Hound of the Baskerville having been based on the Dartmoor countryside. If that wasn’t enough for you, Stephen Spielberg used the landscape in his epic, War Horse, and Postbridge can be spotted in Rosamunde Pilcher. Dartmoor is as fascinating now as it was hundreds of years ago, full of tradition, folklore, farmland, modernity and history to give you a well-rounded trip.

Cycling on Dartmoor

Another great way to explore Dartmoor is to get out on your bike, there is an extensive network of cycle trails and pathways taking you through spectacular countryside and with something for every cyclist. Whether you want a challenge or something a bit more gentle, you'll find a suitable route - just be aware that cycling on the open moorland and common land is not permitted, so make sure to stick to the designated routes. You can pick up a map showing the routes around Dartmoor from one of the National Park Visitor Centres or online, the maps have plenty of options, including the popular Drake's Trail, the Dartmoor Way and the Granite Way among others. 

Camping on Dartmoor

As a living, working area of Devon with plenty of villages and hamlets littered around it, you’ll find lots of accommodation options to suit you. One of the great ways to experience Dartmoor is by camping and with the nearby Camping and Caravanning Club site at Tavistock and options to camp at family-friendly places like Roadford Lake you’ll be spoiled for choice.

Not up for sleeping under canvas? There are loads of other properties available from self-catering cottages to B&Bs to hotels to farm stays – so whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. Dartmoor really is a haven for unique accommodations. Browse the wide range on offer here.

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Our Highlights...

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“ I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor.” Steven Spielberg.

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