Blog Archives

Posts about Dartmoor National Park in Devon.

Princetown to Great Mis Tor

Ever since I first visited Dartmoor on my motorbike, back in 1990 I was always fascinated by the tall TV transmitter visible for miles and miles around. For the residents of Princetown this monument to modern communication has stood looming over the town since the mast and TV transmitter station came into operation on 7 August 1956.

Princetown TV Mast

A look on my trusty OS Explorer Map of Dartmoor showed a path running north-west from Princetown to Great Mis Tor, seemed to me like the basis of a great circular walk, with some stunning views. A date was set, I parked in the centre of Princetown close to the Dartmoor National Park visitor centre.

I walked away from the centre of town, alongside the Dartmoor Brewery and Fire Station, it was dry and the sun was attempting to shine a light.

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Basic Equipment for Hiking Moorland

This is a basic list of what you should have/wear when hiking. The list will evolve!

A plan. Check how much daylight you will have, your route, your fitness, are the MOD firing ranges closed to the public, check the weather forecast but the weather can be VERY wet and VERY VERY windy on Dartmoor. Equivalent of being out to sea.

Have a plan b for when you need to get off of the moor and onto safer terrain quickly. Plan food stops, never walk tired and hungry. Shelter behind tors / strong walls if the weather becomes severe. It does.

Well fitting waterproof hiking boots or sturdy footwear. Such as trail shoes. Ordinary trainers are NOT suitable at all. They don’t offer the grip and foot/ankle support you require.
Well fitting, walking / hiking socks. To stop your boots rubbing and keep your feet warm yet not too hot.

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Princetown to Leather Tor Bridge #Walk1000Miles

Did your new year dawn with a fantastic list of New Year resolutions? As 2016 began here in Plymouth Devon I made my usual list of resolutions;

  • Eat healthily in conjunction with slightly less delicious chocolate
  • Hike more miles in new places
  • Hike old places to see the new changes
  • Set myself a challenge to beat

It was the last bullet point item that I was struggling with; I could try to beat my daily best, a reasonable 40.8 miles hiked on a humid day in June 2015. No, it didn’t appeal, I needed an excuse to get my hiking boots on every week when possible.

#Walk1000Miles Challenge – The Hashtag

It was whilst I was online on various social networks catching up with the news from my adventurous friends that I started to see the hashtag #walk1000miles mentioned.

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Widgery Cross Dartmoor Landscape

Dartmoor’s weather can be something of a mystery, promising brooding clouds but delivering piercing sunbeams. The moorland landscape delivers the same pictorial promises; mist hidden crosses and tors rising high above brightly illuminated pasture.

Dartmoor Inn – Widgery Cross

For this mid winter walk I parked just off the main A386 road near the village of Lydford, a small lane runs eastwards from beside the Dartmoor Inn to a gated moorland car park. The car park was busy, the raindrops pounding the windscreen didn’t dampen the urge to walk!

No sooner had I put on my waterproofs then the rain abated and Dartmoor once more laughed at my attempts to judge the micro-climate; moorland 1 – human 0. A short walk north east from the car park,

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Dartmoor Hail and Sunbeams

Autumn on Dartmoor brings a noticeable change in the weather. Waterproof coats are essential kit and as I discovered on this walk protection from hail is also needed!

I had hiked this route before but as with any natural landscape every minute of every day is different. The colour tones of the ground, the angle of the sunbeams in the sky. The intensity of the hail showers! You will never walk the same mile in the same footsteps.

Gutter Tor to Eylesbarrow Mine – Hiking Dartmoor

I parked at the old scout hut car park at Gutter Tor, follow the signs for Nattor, Sheepstor. The car park on arrival was empty, as I had chosen a mid-week walk in November.

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Yes Tor and High Willhays – Dartmoor High Walks

Large red words on the OS Map spell out a warning to hikers and tourists alike: Danger Area restricted access. I had this notion that the northern landscape of Dartmoor was a fenced off landscape, uninviting to hikers. Littered with UXBs and danger!

Meldon Dam, Okehampton Devon

There is a large car park at Meldon Dam, with toilets and a map of the area. A short walk south of the car park brings you to the impressive Meldon Dam constructed in 1972. I’ve been spoilt for choice lately with Dartmoor dams. They each have a certain attraction and charm, perhaps that’s the engineer in me looking at things.

As I walked across the dam,

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Wistman’s Wood to Bellever Tor

Dartmoor in Devon has several large areas of forest and one location that caught my attention was Wistman’s Wood, one of only three remote high-altitude oakwoods. A friend had read about the wood and suggested a walk. I’m not one to turn down a hike to a quirky location, that’s for certain.

Two Bridges to Wistman’s Wood

My OS Map showed a car park at Two Bridges, located at the edge of a small disused quarry. The weather was typical Dartmoor, cloud and the 50/50 chance of rain, sunshine, drizzle, blue sky, cloud. You’ll get used to it. Bring your coat.

The walking route to Wistman’s Wood is easy to follow, it leads north from the small car park; just follow the footpath fingerpost. You’ll pass by a small farmstead and then you’ll quickly be on open moorland as you walk towards Littaford Tors in the distance.

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Red Lake China Clay Walk

As I walk more and more of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, my curiosity, my sense of adventure draws me deeper into the vast expanse. It is so easy in fact to get off the beaten track that you are spoilt for choice.

Sheepstor to Plym Ford – Dartmoor Walks

I parked in the scout hut car park at the foot of Gutter Tor, the dead-end track is signposted Nattor, you’ll find it on the OS Map. Dave my border collie was eager to explore, so without wasting too much time I kitted up and walked east towards Eylesbarrow Tin Mine.

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Sheepstor Ditsworthy Warren – Dartmoor Circular Walk

I had read about another magnificent stone row in the Sheepstor area of Dartmoor and planned a circular walk to explore. I parked at the foot of Gutter Tor, you will see the car-park marked on the OS Map, by the old scout hut nestling in some trees.


The car park does get busy as it is located at the beginning of a well-defined moorland track / bridle path which offers the hiker a multitude of moderate walks in several directions. Monk’s Way, Abbot’s Way and more.

The weather was perfect, late summer or more correctly very early autumn sunshine bathed the landscape. A breeze was blowing but the forecast was dry for the entire day. I was already in my good space and it only got better as the day unfolded.

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Burrator – Down Tor Stone Row

My quest to hike Dartmoor and discover its less than hidden prehistoric past was going well. A scan of my OS Explorer Map and the internet revealed a beautiful stone row and circle not far from Burrator Reservoir, a location I knew well.

Down Tor Dartmoor

I parked at the eastern edge of Burrator Reservoir, at the Norsworthy Bridge car park. A busy corner on the reservoir with walks in many directions for people of all abilities. A well-worn path led onto the moor. The map confirmed this was the route to take.

I set off with my border collie happily leading the way, he has a good nose for following well walked paths. The sunshine was warming the land, it felt great to be outdoors. My first obvious and immediate destination was Down Tor,

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The Grey Wethers Stone Circles

I’ve never been to Stonehenge, I have driven the A303 a multitude of times on trips to the West Country. My reason for never visiting is the location. A busy noisy holiday traffic route only a short distance away, fences keeping people from doing harm to the stones.


Coach loads of people arriving by the hour on sunny weekends. An amazing icon but the location is all man-made wrong. Dartmoor on the other hand is addressing that issue for me and very well too.

Postbridge Dartmoor Devon

The village of Postbridge is a popular starting point for walks on the moors, a well equipped shop and Post Office, toilets and a large visitor centre. A generous sized car park operating on a donation system, £1 for cars is a price worth paying.

I had looked at my OS Explorer Map of Dartmoor and had seen The Grey Wethers stone circles clearly marked.

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Huntingdon Warren Clapper Bridge – Dartmoor Walks

You’ll read it and hear it over and over again; do not walk Dartmoor without a proper map. With that in mind my first few walks were along well-defined tracks in a straight line. There and back. My reason for a lack of map was simple, I wasn’t planning on visiting Dartmoor or indeed living in Devon; life changes and a map was on order.

Walking Ancient Dartmoor

The many streams, rivers and leats make the moor a very wet place, even after a dry July and early August. I wanted to visit a clapper bridge that I knew was a moderate walk from the easily accessible Avon Dam Reservoir near South Brent, Devon.

The weather for the day of my walk was forecast to be dry all day,

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Burrator Reservoir – Dartmoor Walks

Continuing my gentle introduction to Dartmoor I took a trip to Burrator Dam and Reservoir near Yelverton, Devon. The weatherman promised sunshine and that’s what I was greeted with as I parked for free at the side of the road, near the dam itself.

Having lived near the South Downs in Sussex for several years I was unsure what to expect from a dam and reservoir; seems a silly thing to type but most of the reservoirs in the South East are man-made giant ponds. Burrator Reservoir was completed in 1898 and the reservoir was expanded in 1929. The structure is concrete faced with granite blocks, very impressive up close.

Burrator Dam

Burrator Reservoir promised from online searches a flat walk around a large lake, perfect for the puppy (though at 6 months old he’s now more dog).

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Hookney Tor – Dartmoor Walks

I wanted to walk a short distance but take in a spectacular view of Dartmoor from a tor. I had driven from Postbridge to Moretonhampstead before and knew of lanes that turned south towards Widecombe-in-the-Moor.


With the sun low in the sky as it was late afternoon in August I set off to find a vantage point to stretch my legs and as always take photos and video.

Hookney Tor and Grimspound

Driving along east of Postbridge I spotted a side turning on my right that lead eventually to Widecombe-in-the-Moor, a destination on my way home. Dartmoor has a mixture of public car parks in the larger villages and popular tourist locations as well as smaller cut-outs along the edge of many roads.

I was fortunate to find a small parking spot close to Hookeny Tor which overlooks Grimspound,

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Avon Dam Reservoir – Dartmoor Devon

You may have noticed a change in scenery if you follow me on various social media platforms, yes myself and my Border Collie ‘Dave’ have moved for a while to Devon.

Welcome to Dartmoor Devon

I’ve visited Dartmoor on several occasions over the years but just like the South Downs National Park, I had never walked very far off-road. So this walk to Avon Dam Reservoir was a key moment in this change of life for me.

The most important things to consider when walking Dartmoor are the topography and climate, the moors will kill you as much as amaze you.

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