Home to stone circles and barren moorland
Dartmoor is in the South West of England, ideal for sweeping landscapes crossing over tors of displaced ancient rock and modern farmland.
Overlooking Meldon Reservior and Sourton Tors
Some areas of moorland are so empty and indistinctive you can't be sure you're moving at all. Walking on Dartmoor is like taking a step and wondering if you are closer or further away!
If you want to get lost in the wild then Dartmoor is for you.
Fernworthy has all three of my favourite Dartmoor features: A reservoir woodland walk, moorland above it reaching up to Thornworthy Down, and an intact stone circle.
5-10 min to the dam.
There are several parking points around the reservoir you can start from, though the main car park is the closest to the dam. There is a little picnic area overlooking the lake, ideal for families or fishermen. You can follow a clear path leading from the right of the picnic area round to the scenic view of the dam.
A walk around the reservoir:
There isn't a path that takes you on a complete circular route around the reservoir.
Fernworthy is a nature reserve, and has a lovely walk through a meadow, over duck boards and woodland.
You can find one of many stunning Stone Circles in Dartmoor, hidden in a wonderful woodland clearing! Only 500 metres East of the reservoir, you can reach the circle by following the road to its end, then following the marked main footpath. If you prefer a scenic route then it is a simple matter to park further down, make a loop heading East, North, then West back towards the water. There should be plenty of signs to point the way.
Burrator is by far my favourite place on Dartmoor. It has an energy and beauty than cannot be found anywhere else.
If you want an easy reservoir walk or something that requires more endurance Burrator is perfect. With beautiful hidden spots off the main path, you can even wild camp on top of Sheepstor!
A walk around the reservoir:
You can park at any of the many car parks around Burrator and walk around the reservoir from there. There are also spots where you can let the dog off the lead. It's incredibly pretty in October with lots of photo opportunities. Some parts of the walk are confusing, you cross onto the road now and again but it's mostly simple.
As lovely as walking by the reservoir is, I would say don't waste your time in this beautiful place! Explore the woodland or brooks.
We started from the car park closest to Burrator Plantation on the OS Map. We walked along the bottom of Yellowmead Down, following the path across the remains of Blowing House to the brook, then followed the brook up to the footbridge to cross over.
From the foot bridge we walked up to Combshead Tor. On the uphill path we crossed lots of bracken, and the path is overgrown, but there is a beautiful hidden waterfall under some low trees.
Combshead Tor to the Stone Circle Row, and then to Down Tor are all straight lines across moorland, easily seen on the map and terrain. Both Tors have amazing views overlooking the valley and Burrator Reservoir.
We completed the route by walking West to the hut circles, and then in the direction of Norsworthy Bridge where we sat by the water and were visited by some Dartmoor ponies and foals! We then finally rejoined the road/car park.
rambling thoughts from dartmoor
High Willhays Tor & Yes Tor
The highest two points on Dartmoor, and the views do not disappoint.
These tors are really the definition of a sweeping landscape.
Remember to take a proper OS Map, compass and torch. You should never rely on your phone battery.
My most useful and practical tip for hiking:
A spare pair of thick socks and a spare jumper!
Next time, I would like to walk from High Willhays to Oke Tor and Hangingstone Hill (somehow!). This is also an area you can wild camp in so that's on the to do list!
There is a pay & display car park next to the dam at Meldon Reservoir. Most people seemed to cross the dam and turn left, following a gentle incline round the steep hill.
On this well trodden path you could turn off left towards Black Down then climb West Mill Tor and head upwards to Yes Tor, it is then a very gentle incline to High Willhays Tor. I walked directly downhill in the direction of the reservoir/car park without any problems in the dark.
Keep in mind this is at least three/four hours. Mostly off any proper path. You would need waterproof walking boots (very sodden long grass), and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions.
Castle Drogo & River Teign
The River Teign sits at the bottom of a beautiful valley overlooked by Castle Drogo.
We started off in the direction of Sharpe Tor, which has a great view which will be an even better view in Spring, Summer and Autumn. It's a little dark in December when I went, although there are some very nice evergreen Pine woods.
From Sharp Tor we continued on the path down the valley to Fingle Bridge, which sits next to a very convenient pub (with a car park). Since we started late, and it was getting dark, we decided to follow the path running alongside the River Teign and cross over near the Weir.
Follow the footpath to a very small road and on the right is a gate to the path again where you can walk to Hunters Tor, along the bottom of Castle Drogo. On the last leg there are steps up on the left that take you back to where you started.
Hunters Tor has a great view point overlooking the valley and the entire walk. Neither Sharp nor Hunters tors are good for those scared of heights!
You can park in the National Trust car park at the visitor centre/cafe.
If you aren't one for map reading this is a good place to start your skills because you can't go far wrong. Take the OS Map with you and just keep track of where you are along the well trodden paths for practice.
There are a lot of other walking routes that you can try in this valley. I would like to start from the National Trust car park again but after crossing at Fingle Bridge turn left and explore Charles Wood to Woosten Castle Fort and Cod Wood. Alternatively, the other direction has Widdon Wood and Widdon Deer Park.
A note from a fellow rambler
I hope this helps you plan your next rambling adventure.
Like you, I am filling in the gaps as I go. Finding new walks and paths is a joy. Its difficult to briefly encapsulate an experience or your potential experience in a few words and short descriptions of paths. I have countless photos of these little adventures and choosing just a few is impossible.
I will update these pages as I go. It may be awhile before we are able to get out and hike properly again or camp but when the time comes I've got a couple of things planned.
When visiting these areas please respect them, the natural habitats, farmers/owners and other walkers.
Make sure to take hand sanitiser with you incase you encounter a gate, always useful to keep a mask and a bottle of water in your bag and respect the 2 metre social distancing. If you are wild camping, please check with the OS Maps if it is legal to do so. Remember to take everything with you and leave no trace you have been there.
Enjoy your rambling.