Dartmoor National Park is one of southern England’s wildest and most mysterious natural spaces. Its ancient valleys and open boggy moors are rich in wildlife and home to a number of spectacular rivers and falls.
Cool off by the water by exploring two of Devon’s most iconic waterfalls, both magical in every season.
Sitting in Bovey Valley in the heart of Dartmoor, the lively waters of Becky Falls roar in a landscape that was formed more than 12,000 years ago in the last Ice Age. These natural falls are an impressive sight, more than 20m tall and over 10m across, with water cascading dramatically over a boulder-strewn bed, before flowing towards the calmer, clear waters of Becka Brook.
The falls were first opened to visitors in 1903 and have attracted admirers ever since. But don’t let their popularity put you off visiting as the entry fee includes access to a lovely selection of waterfalls and woodland walks of varying difficulty. The quieter Lower Falls offers a good chance of spotting woodland birds, but expect a bit of scrambling on the more challenging trails.
Canonteign Falls in the leafy Teign Valley, four miles east of Becky Falls, is home to England’s highest man-made waterfall – Lady Exmouth Falls – which stands at a mighty 70m high and offers some of Devon’s prettiest panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. In 1890, under the direction of Lady Exmouth, miners rerouted a stream over the edge of a cliff to create the lofty falls, which now cascade through a leafy woodland. The original natural waterfall, Clampitt Falls, can be found further down the valley.
Wander through ancient woodland on one of the walking trails before exploring the lush Victorian fern garden or one of seven lakes – all connected by bridges and paths – created by the current Lord Exmouth. Grassy meadows filled with orchids and wildflowers surround the lakes in spring and summer, offering an essential natural habitat for wildlife. Keep an eye out for kingfishers, butterflies and otters, too.