November 13, 2023
Destination: Devon & Cornwall
Best Dartmoor National Park Walks
The Dartmoor National Park in Devon was the first national park to be established in Britain, over 70 years ago, in 1951.
The 386 square miles of forests, moorlands, and meandering rivers attract keen walkers year after year. The park also borders popular holiday locations like Exeter, Exmouth, and Plymouth, so it’s a great spot if you want to combine some seaside relaxation with a few days stomping around the National Park.
Tempted? Here are some of the best walks in the Dartmoor National Park.
1. Cosdon & River Taw
This walk begins in Belstone, on the northern edge of the moors. It follows the stony footpath towards Cosdon Hill, then onto Skaigh Wood before returning along the banks of the River Taw.
Look out for the writing on the Henry Williamson bridge, which is inscribed with a quote from Tarka the Otter.
Distance: 4.25 miles (6.8 km)
2. Okehampton Deer Park Circular Walk
This route starts at the Okehampton YHA, where there’s parking available.
The walk goes past the Deer Park hunting lodge, then follows the West Devon Way, passing through the Old Town Park Local Nature Reserve. You could take a detour to Okehampton Castle here, before finishing back in Okehampton, where there are plenty of places for refreshments.
Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
3. Tavy Cleave & Hare Tor Walk
This trail takes you upstream along the Tavy River and up to Hare Tor, offering great views along the way. The terrain can be slightly boggy (as with much of the National Park), but the views from the top of Hare Tor are absolutely worth it.
Distance: 4.5 miles (7.4 km)
4. Castle Drogo & Cod Wood Walk
This is a lovely long walk with breathtaking views across the moors and woodlands from the View of the Valley, where the remnants of the Wooston Castle Hillfort lie.
The route follows the winding riverside path for much of the walk, with a few climbs including Hunter’s Tor.
We recommend visiting Castle Drogo, which was built between 1910 and 1930, after the walk, as there’s also a small cafe and facilities available.
Distance: 7.2 miles (11.7 km)
5. Meldon Reservoir & Black Tor Walk
This walk crosses over the Meldon Reservoir dam, then follows the West Okement River for a short period before heading out into the moors.
Enjoy stunning views across the rugged landscape and be sure to wear sturdy shoes – especially in winter – as the tracks can get a little boggy.
Distance: 4.4 miles (7.2 km)
6. Fernworthy Reservoir Circular
This is a great family walk, following the perimeter of the Fernworthy Reservoir. There are plenty of picnic spots along the way, so be sure to take some snacks with you. It’s a beautiful place to spend a few hours on a sunny day.
Distance: 2.4 miles (4 km)
7. Gutter Tor Walk
The Dartmoor National Park has long provided inspiration for some of Britain’s best authors and playwrights.
This four-mile walk from Gutter Tor to Higher Hartor discovers the landscapes that inspired Michael Morpurgo’s iconic War Horse, written in 1982.
Distance: 3.9 miles (6.4 km)
8. Hound Tor Walk
If you like a view, this route is for you. The circular 5-mile walk takes in some of Dartmoor’s most famous tors such as Saddle, Haytor, Holwell Tor, and Hound Tor.
Each of the tors has a spooky tale to tell, from ancient dragons to runaway horses – some even say you can hear the thunderous hoofbeats of a phantom pony in the distance at the top of Saddle Tor.
Distance: 5.2 miles (8.5 km)
Want to see the best of Dartmoor on foot? Check out our guided walking tours of Devon and Cornwall.
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