by Dan Shone
Day Out Guides
Dartmoor National Park is a vast and rugged upland area in Devon, perfectly suited to all manner of outdoor activities. At over 368 square miles, Dartmoor is the largest area of open countryside in the south of England. The landscape is a dazzling mix of moorland, granite tors, forests, rivers and waterfalls.
With such varied terrain to explore you’ll never be short of outdoor adventures.
There are miles and miles of Dartmoor to explore on foot. Choose which walks suit you based on distance, gradient and terrain.
Set within 50 acres of woodland and streams, Becky Falls centres around a set of rapids with a waterfall drop of around 70 feet. This stunning attraction provides walkers with a choice of 3 trails ranging from the blue trail, which is reasonably flat, to the purple trail, which will take roughly 90 minutes and on which you will need to negotiate obstacles and a 200 foot climb.
Discover one of the highest oakwoods in Britain at Wistman’s Wood. Owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and covering around 9 acres, this tangled mass of lichen covered trees and boulders is like being transported back to medieval times. Unspoiled for centuries, the oldest trees are estimated to be up to 500 years old.
Quite possibly the most famous walk in Dartmoor is Teign Gorge. This 4 mile walk begins at Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England, and runs through Whiddon Wood before looping back and passing Whiddon Deer Park.
If you want to travel far off the beaten track or discover sites that aren’t sign posted then why not take a guided walk with an expert. Dartmoor’s Daughter offers guided walks and activities designed to connect with nature and improve physical and mental wellbeing. Experiences for 2020 include a foraging walk and lunch at Gidleigh Park and a dusk to dawn walk.
Dartmoor Walks and Rides This Way use their extensive knowledge of the local geography to map and design walks suited to your requirements and interests, whether that be a family friendly walk or a 10 mile hike visiting historic sites. They also provide electric bike guided tours with the option of combining hiking and riding.
Fancy some company on your walk? Join Dartmoor Llama Walks for a guided walk and lead your very own llama or alpaca on a wonderfully relaxing hike across the moor. Walks range from 2 hours to a half day walk lasting around 4 hours, including a stop at lunchtime to enjoy a homemade picnic.
Explore the stunning scenery of Dartmoor on two wheels by taking advantage of the extensive network of cycle routes, lanes and bridleways.
The Granite Way is an 11 mile trail that follows the path of the former Southern Region railway line. Mostly free from traffic, this route crosses the Meldon Viaduct as well as passing several sites of archaeological interest and offers amazing views of Dartmoor.
Drake’s Trail is a 21 mile route starting at Laira Bridge in Plymouth and ending in Tavistock, on the western edge of Dartmoor. The route takes you across the Plym Estuary, through woodland and meadows and over the Cann Viaduct before reaching Tavistock.
If you want to tackle a longer route then try The Dartmoor Way, a 95 mile long circular route which loops around the Dartmoor National Park linking beautiful towns and villages along its length. The 27 mile long High Moorland link intersects points near Tavistock and Buckfastleigh allowing you to shorten the northern or southern loops.
Need to hire a bike? Visit Devon Cycle Hire or Bigpeaks to get kitted out with the necessary gear.
Dartmoor’s landscape, littered with giant, protruding granite tors and labyrinth of tunnel systems, is an ideal playground for outdoor adventurers and thrill seekers.
Crag 2 Mountain and Devon Adventure both provide a range of outdoor activities that cater to all age groups and abilities. Activities include rock climbing, caving, abseiling and mountaineering. Specialist instructors will guide you through the event from learning the ropes as a beginner, to more advanced pursuits and 1:1 tuition.
Dartmoor is a spectacular place for horse riding due to the sheer scale of the landscape that you can explore. Spend a wonderful day on horseback navigating moorland, woodland and bridleways. Cholwell Riding Stables has been providing rides and lessons on horses and ponies for nearly forty years. Catering to all ages and levels of experience, Cholwell Stables is open all year round, seven days a week.
For the more experienced rider, spend a day, or several, with Adventure Clydesdale, riding magnificent Clydesdale horses. These gentle giants are perfectly suited to covering long distances and will provide you with a safe and comfortable ride. Choose from a half day, full day or adventure ride – a long trail ride over a number of days, including accommodation at your journey’s stop off points.
Get closer to nature and enjoy the calm and tranquility of Dartmoor’s waterways on kayak or canoe. A great source of exercise, you can make your session as relaxing or extreme as you like. There are restrictions that operate so you have to be careful where and when you access the water. Experienced activity operators can sort all of this for you and provide expert tuition. Adventure Okehampton offers kayaking and canoeing on lakes and rivers in Devon and also run accredited courses at their centre if you want to improve your skills.
The origins of letterboxing can be traced back to Dartmoor over 150 years ago when hikers would leave a letter or postcard inside a box and then the next person to find it would collect the letters and post them. There are now hundreds of boxes spread out over the moor and letterboxing has developed into an outdoor pursuit combining hiking and orienteering. Participants must find the location of the box by a map reference or solving a clue. Inside the box contains a unique stamp that you can take an impression of to prove you have found the location. Letter Boxing on Dartmoor has all the necessary details you need to get you started.
Geocaching is essentially a modern day version of letterboxing, but using GPS to locate the cache. A waterproof container, containing a log book and sometimes tradeable items, is left in a location with the coordinates made available. The geocache can then be discovered by tracking the GPS coordinates.
Tackle an adventure course with a twist – this one is 50 feet up in the woodland canopy! Take on 3 specially designed rope courses constructed of swings, bridges, walkways and zip wires or test your bravery with the leap of faith – a free fall jump from 40 feet in the air, descending to a gentle landing. Tree Surfers also have a junior course making this a great day out for the whole family.
Located on a 200 acre farm in the south hams, with access to thousands more acres of flying ground, Dartmoor Hawking Falconry Experience is a private falconry centre. With an emphasis on providing an interactive experience, visitors can spend a memorable day learning how to handle and fly owls, falcons, eagles and hawks. Unique to Dartmoor Hawking is also the opportunity for experienced horse riders to combine horseback riding and falconry handling.
Planning a break? We have stunning holiday cottages in Dartmoor and across Devon. Spend your days enjoying the beautiful outdoors and relax in the evening in your warm and cosy cottage.
Explore the rest of Devon and discover an array of attractions. Check out our favourite 26 things to do in Torquay, or browse our guide to the best South West beaches in England.
I joined the team in October 2019 as an Digital Marketing Executive.
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