Dartmoor National Park comprises 386 square miles of moorlands, forests, rivers, wetlands and craggy granite tors.
The area is considered by many to be Britain’s bleakest national park, but in spite of this reputation its varied habitats and prehistoric remains are a great draw for many outdoor enthusiasts. One of the best ways to explore Dartmoor is by using its impressive network of footpaths.
Dartmoor ponies in Widecombe, Devon ©Getty
Our guide to the best walks in Dartmoor National Park, including Wistman’s Wood, Hound Tor and Lydford Gorge.
View from Bench Tor, Dartmoor ©Alamy
Climb from the placid waters of Venford Reservoir to a grand vista overlooking the hills and valleys of Dartmoor National Park – it’s the perfect place to spread out your picnic blanket before returning via charming waterfalls.
Sun falls through the canopy of Wistman’s ancient oaks ©Getty
Wistman’s Wood is an easy walk on a waymarked path in the middle of the park. Creep beneath the trees’ lichen-covered boughs in a woodland that has remained unspoilt for hundreds of years.
River near Burrator Reservoir ©Getty
Rich in history and legend, Dartmoor National Park offers an exhilarating challenge for walkers and some of the most dramatic views in England, including this one from the summit of Sharpitor looking down towards Burrator Reservoir.
Great Staple Tor, Dartmoor ©Getty
White (pronounced Whit) Tor, which stands above the Tavy valley, offers a spectacular vantage point. On the broad summit, among the multitude of rocks and clitter, there are stone structures which were originally assumed to be an iron age hillfort but are more likely a neolithic enclosure – the uncertainty adds to the mystery. It’s wonderful to explore the layers of history to be found on Dartmoor, a true palimpsest.
Explore the mysterious remains with a walk from Great Staple Tor to White Tor.
Hannicombe Wood ©Getty
The River Teign tumbles off windswept moors, swirling and carving through a spectacular gorge overhung with crooked oaks and beeches. The fresh woodland air invigorates the soul, while the peace is occasionally broken by the chilling bellows of a stag. Deep within this valley in the northern fringes of Dartmoor National Park, an ancient woodland is returning. Take an walk from Castle Drogo through Piddledown Common and Fingle Wood a see one of England’s largest woodland restoration projects.
On the summit of Hound Tor ©Getty
Ghosts, witches and dragons: walkers looking for some scary stories should head for Dartmoor. This moderate walking route takes in a host of Dartmoor’s famous tors – Saddle, Haytor, Howell Tor and Hound Tor.
Gutter Tor cloudscape
The hills, moorlands and coastlines of Devon’s landscape have long provided inspiration for Britain’s authors, poets and playwrights, from Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle to Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen. Discover the landscape that inspired Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse with this four-mile walk from Gutter Tor to Higher Hartor Tor in Dartmoor National Park.
Lydford Gorge ©Getty
Stretching for 1½ miles, the steep-sided Lydford Gorge is a spectacular chasm in the hills. At one end lies the impressive Devil’s Cauldron whirlpool, while the 30m (100ft)-high White Lady waterfall is at the other.