Dartmoor
Dartmoor
National Park
Devon PL20 6
South West England
 
 
 
For many visitors the word ‘Dartmoor’ conjures up visions of forbidding boggy moors and an escape-proof prison.
 
The truth is that the moor is a wild and beautiful place, interspersed with small hamlets, ancient oak woodlands and fast flowing rivers. Locals will warn visitors about the clarity of the atmosphere – it gives a false impression of distance – landmarks can look much closer than they really are. Weather conditions can change very quickly so visitors should come prepared.
 
The granite rock underlying the moor shapes the Dartmoor environment. Shallow hollows in the underlying bedrock can hold pools of water making the ground spongy and boggy and very dangerous. The local name for these bogs is ‘Mires’. The vegetation is bright green moss just floating on water, so avoid walking on these bogs.
 
Hound of the Baskervilles
Where the granite breaks through the moorland hills it leaves mounds of weathered rocks known as Tors. Fox Tor with its surrounding mire is said to have provided the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel "The Hound of the Baskervilles". We have found the following website excellent for directions. Web: Fox Tor Mire weblink
 
Dartmoor is littered with pre-historic, medieval and industrial relics. These range from standing stones, burial chambers and Saxon crosses to abandoned tin mines, rail tramways and 20th century rabbit farming. Again, Fox Tor Mire weblink (above) has a comprehensive collection of images. The Ordnance Survey Map reference is provided for each site.
 
Dartmoor covers an area of 368 square miles (954 sq km) and has National Park status. This means that it is protected but not locked up. Various parts of Dartmoor are used for forestry, farming and as a military training area.
 
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Small villages hidden in the valleys
One of the delights of Dartmoor is the small villages, hidden in valleys such as Postbridge, Lustleigh Village, Lydford Village (Lydford Gorge) and Widecombe-in-the-Moor.
 
Visitors are encouraged to enjoy all manner of activities such as walking, kayaking, canoeing, angling and horse riding. If energetic activity is not what you are looking for, there are historic buildings such as Castle Drogo, Buckland Abbey and Finch Foundry. Near Buckland Monachorum can be found the delightful floral country garden at The Garden House.
 
South Devon Heritage Railway
On the south east edge of Dartmoor runs the Buckfastleigh to Totnes - South Devon Railway.
 
Small pubs with Real Ale 
The small pubs are welcoming, serving traditional food and drink such as real ales, ciders, pasties and pork pies. Be sure to have a real Devonshire Tea with scones and clotted cream.
 
If possible attend a local market or fair such as the Widecombe Fair or catch a local cultural event like Maypole dancing, a Mummers play or even Morris Dancing.
 
Dartmoor Prison at Princetown 
The village of Princetown services Dartmoor Prison. Visitors sometimes drive down to Princetown out of curiosity or get there by mistake as this writer did. The black granite 19th century prison is indeed frightening and signs forbidding photography add to the overwhelming impression that visitors are not welcome.
 
Plan your Visit

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For more information on Dartmoor contact the local Dartmoor TICs or go to Web: Visiting Dartmoor National Park
 
Towns & Villages 
Dartmoor National Park Authority website has interesting information on the majority of towns & villages in the Park and its vicinity on its excellent website.
 
Getting There
- By Road from London
From Junction 4B on the M25 take the M4 westbound past Slough, Reading and Swindon towards Bath and Bristol. At junction 20 just beyond Bristol, take the M5 southbound past Weston-Super-Mare, Bridgwater and Taunton continuing onwards to Exeter.
 
At Exeter Junction 31 you have the option of heading towards north Dartmoor or continuing onwards south on the A38 towards the eastern and southern edge of Dartmoor and towards Plymouth.
 
For the northern option, at the M5 Junction 31, take the A30 westbound towards Okehampton. For the eastern/ southern edge, from Junction 31 continue through Buckfastleigh.
 
- By Rail from London to Exeter
Take the First Great Western service from London Paddington station to Exeter St Davids station taking an average of just over two hours. Some services travel via Bristol Parkway and and take approximately 3 hours. Services are approximately hourly during week days.
 
For timetable information, ticket availability and bookings, visit  Web: National Rail Enquiries
 
Google Map - Dartmoor