Dartmoor National Park Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by EasyMalc
  • Rippon Tor from Buckland Beacon
    Rippon Tor from Buckland Beacon
    by EasyMalc
  • The 10 Commandments
    The 10 Commandments
    by EasyMalc

Most Recent Things to Do in Dartmoor National Park

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    Crockern Tor

    by EasyMalc Updated Dec 26, 2014

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    One of the most characteristic features of Dartmoor are the numerous tors that crop up amongst the landscape. I use that term because they are, in actual fact, outcrops of granite that have been weathered over the years to form these unmistakeable icons of the moor.
    There are well in excess of a hundred tors and most of them have a name, and there are people who ‘bag’ tors the same way as people collect beer mats. There are probably some people who do both.
    It goes without saying that some of these tors have taken on a special significance for one reason or another and Crockern Tor is one of them.
    The landscape that produced the tors also provided deposits of tin and Dartmoor became a prolific and profitable tin mining area which lasted hundreds of years right up until the 20th cent. Tin mining was deemed so important for the nation's coffers that anyone mining for tin had special privileges.
    Four stannary (tin) towns were set up in Devon for the purpose of assessing, weighing, stamping and applying duty to the metal. Everything was overseen by a special Stannary Parliament and this is where Crockern Tor came in.
    The four stannary towns were Tavistock, Chagford, Ashburton and Plympton. Each of these towns covered a district of Dartmoor and Crockern Tor is where these districts met.
    According to legendary Dartmoor, Parliament sat here from as far back as 1494 and continued on and off until 1749, when it moved to Tavistock. Because tin was such a valuable commodity, the Stannary Parliament was in a position to grant extra privileges to anyone who had anything to do with the industry, and people would make up any sort of excuse to find a way into the tin mining business. However, if anyone was found abusing these special privileges Parliament would send them off to Lydford Prison where they would soon learn to regret their actions. http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/24030c/
    Crockern Tor lies a short walk up from the B3212 near Two Bridges and Parliament Rock is the lower of the two outcrops. It stands at 396 metres with a commanding view below. If you stand to the south-east of Parliament Rock you’ll be able to see the natural rock formation known as the ‘Judges Chair’. If you do venture up here then I suggest that you take a copy of my photo with you so that it makes it easier to locate.

    Parliament Rock The Judge's Chair
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    Wistman's Wood

    by EasyMalc Written Oct 10, 2014

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    Nowhere conjures up the spooky mood of Dartmoor more than Wistman’s Wood.
    Legends abound about how this small remote wood of dwarf, stunted oak trees hanging with beards of lichen and moss have attracted ‘Wisht Hounds’ - a “pack of huge black dogs with blood red eyes, huge yellow fangs and an insatiable hunger for human flesh and souls” according to Legendary Dartmoor.
    On a more down to earth level Wistman’s Wood is one of the highest oakwoods in Britain and is pretty difficult to walk through due to the clitter (granite boulders) that is scattered amongst the trees.
    Although the wood is in a remote location it can be easily reached from Two Bridges via a well designated footpath which shouldn’t take any longer than half an hour.
    On a summer’s day it’s a pleasant walk alongside the West Dart River, but even at this time of the year you need to keep your eyes open for adders (Britain’s only poisonous snake).
    On the other hand, if you want to experience Dartmoor at it’s spookiest, venture out here on a damp, foggy November day. I really wouldn’t suggest you did it in the dark for any number of reasons.
    Apart from the treacherous granite boulders that would make the wood impenetrable, the Druids will still be keeping a watchful eye over the ’Wood of the Wisemen’. You’re in ‘Hairy Hand’ country as they say around here, and you would be well advised to leave the hounds to bay for somebody else’s blood.
    You’ve been warned. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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    Buckland-in-the-Moor

    by EasyMalc Written Oct 8, 2014

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    This picturesque village with a population of less than a hundred lies in a secluded valley under Buckland Beacon, just a few miles north-west of Ashburton.
    Most people drive to Buckland-in-the-Moor to look at the thatched cottages and St. Peter’s Church.
    Thatched buildings were commonplace in Devon many years ago, but the number has steadily declined as the years have passed by, and to be honest there’s only a few left here in Buckland. If you want to take a decent look at them it’s best to drive carefully along the lane, find somewhere sensible to park and walk back. The lanes around here are narrow so be sure to take care.
    About half a mile further up the lane is St. Peter’s Church, where you should find it easy enough to park.
    This 12th cent church is probably built over an earlier Saxon one and is definitely worth investigating. There are a few Norman features remaining such as the font and some of the pillars, but most of what is left originates from around 1400.
    It’s an interesting, but simple church - so why do people make a point of coming here? Well, believe it or not, they come to see something that was only installed in 1930 - the clock. Instead of numerals the clock has letters - and the letters spell “My Dear Mother”. Commissioned by the owner of the Buckland Estate, a Mr Whitley, he dedicated it to his mother, Elizabeth, who died the previous year.
    I mentioned earlier that the village was sheltered under Buckland Beacon and I highly recommend that before leaving the area that you visit the Beacon. It will involve a short walk across moorland but it will not only give you a great view of the locality but also has another interesting feature as well.
    The best way to get there is to turn back along the lane from which you came and take the first left turn, signposted to Haytor and Widecombe. Follow this road up to the car park at Cold East Cross and park up. Cross the road back to the signpost and walk across the open land staying on the same side of the road as the signpost. You’ll soon come across a path which will eventually lead you to the Beacon.
    Apart from the extensive views look out for the inscriptions of the Ten Commandments chiselled out on some granite stone tablets. Once again it was commissioned by Mr Whitley.
    If I’m being honest, Mr Whitley’s additions to both the landscape and the church are not the real reasons for coming here. Both the Beacon and the village are great examples of what Dartmoor represents without having to stray too far off the beaten track. The only drawback is that Mr Whitley’s funds (or beliefs) didn’t stretch to building a ‘Church House Inn‘. Now that would have been a worthwhile addition to the Buckland landscape.

    Rippon Tor from Buckland Beacon The 10 Commandments View down towards the village from the Beacon
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    Haytor Rocks

    by grayfo Written Jun 17, 2014

    Haytor or Hay Tor and the adjacent Haytor Rocks are granite outcrops on Dartmoor that are very popular with coach parties and walking groups. It is 457 metres (1,499 feet) to the summit and provides excellent views of the coastline, the Teign estuary and the amazing countryside. Hey Tor derives its name from heah high and is the most visited tor on the moors, the outcrops are classified as an avenue tor meaning that the central section of the tor has been eroded leaving an avenue running between two outcrops.

    email %L[mailto: admin@haytorrock.co.uk] admin@haytorrock.co.uk

    June 2012

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    • Mountain Climbing

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    Dartmoor Ponies

    by grayfo Written Feb 13, 2013

    The Dartmoor ponies have been recorded living on the wild and inhospitable moors since the Middle Ages, the ponies are a particularly hardy breed with excellent stamina and are not really wild animals, but are all owned and protected by Dartmoor Commoners, who let them out on to the moors to graze for most of the year.

    It is actually illegal for visitors to feed the ponies although it is a common sight to see ponies being fed snacks through an open car window

    June 2012

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    Walking!

    by King_Golo Written Oct 7, 2011

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    With hundreds of trails, Dartmoor is a hiker's heaven. Those who are really fit and have the time will probably attempt to do the Two Moors Way from Dartmoor to Exmoor, but even for those who just want to go for a little walk there are dozens of places. Stop your car on one of the many little parking lots and just start walking over the soft ground. There's beauty everywhere in the Dartmoor, so it isn't difficult to find a good spot for a little walk. Just be reminded that the weather may change rather rapidly and that the Dartmoor mists are notorious.

    Evening panorama near Dartmeet

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    Hay Tor Rocks

    by King_Golo Written Oct 7, 2011

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    One of the most popular destinations in the eastern part of the Dartmoor, Hay Tor is also a beauty spot par excellence. At a height of 457m it provides views until the sea and over large parts of the beautiful scenery of the moor. Surrounded by fern, heath and gorse which make a lovely colourful contrast to the grey granite, and not difficult to access, Hay Tor sees very many visitors. You would have to come early in the morning or after all the buses have left to enjoy it alone. But even with the crowds around you'll be able to find some secluded spots. Don't miss climbing the actual Hay Tor Rocks - it's easy as steps were carved into the rock in the 19th century.

    Me on top of Hay Tor Rock Hay Tor Rocks from the distance Gorse and Heath

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    Bren Tor

    by King_Golo Written Oct 7, 2011

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    Rising to a height of 335m, Bren Tor (or Brentor, as it is also spelt sometimes) is one of the most easily visible landmarks in the western part of Dartmoor. What makes it worth a visit is the tiny church on top. A barren rock in the middle of nowhere - not exactly a suitable place for a church, isn't it? Nonetheless, a church has been on top of Bren Tor for almost 900 years. Originally built by one Robert Giffard in 1130, it has undergone numerous changes and restorations and doesn't really look old. But you can enjoy great panoramic views from the tor, so the ascent is well worth it.

    According to local legends, it is the devil's "fault" that the church stands where it is. One legend tells that it was originally built at the foot of the tor, but the devil was enraged and threw all the stones on top of the hill to prevent churchgoers from reaching their church. Another legend tells of a wealthy merchant who survived a thunderstorm and promised to built a church on a prominent landmark in gratitude. Naturally, the devil didn't like this plan so he climbed up the hill every night and destroyed whatever had been built during the day. The parishioners turned to Archangel St Michael for help who hid on top and threw the boulders back at the devil who then left the scene and never came back.

    Bren Tor View from the top of Bren Tor

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    Buckland-in-the-Moor

    by King_Golo Written Sep 27, 2011

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    Buckland is another small village in Dartmoor NP and famous for its beautiful surroundings as well as its tiny church with a rather curious church clock. The village is not exactly easy to find as it is hidden deep in the woods and scattered over the hills surrounding the church. Therefore, it doesn't provide a beautiful overall impression but rather several smaller vistas separated from each other by the wood.

    Your first stop should be the church of St. Peter and its very picturesque vestry next to it. While the rest of the village lies hidden, the church sits on a slope, well visible from around. It's another typical village church, but is had got some interesting aspects as well. The most important is the rather original church clock. It doesn't have numbers on its face but letters spelling "MY DEAR MOTHER" as it was a gift from William Whitley and dedicated to his mother. St. Peter's Church also achieved the world record in change ringing in 1990 when 5,040 changes were rung in 6.5 hours.

    Following the lane down into the valley you come to the next sight of Buckland - a set of thatched cottages that snuggle into a hollow next to a little stream. There are several other beautiful cottages around.

    The vestry at Buckland-in-the-Moor

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    Widecombe-in-the-Moor

    by King_Golo Written Sep 27, 2011

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    Widecombe (pronounced "widdicom") is a small village in the middle of Dartmoor. By small, I mean approximately 50 inhabitants. In comparison with other Dartmoor villages, this makes it almost a city. Hence, Widecombe's church is nicknamed the "Cathedral of the Moor". It is a beautiful little church which is visible from every hill surrounding Widecombe and makes for a nice shot with the barren landscape in the background. From the inside, it's a typical village church: not much to see, but a lot of locally interesting things. There is a showcase displaying the famous Widecombe mare who was so strong that she could carry seven drunken men home from Widecombe Fair - at once! And there is an account of the curious events of 21st October 1638. During a service, the church was struck by lightning which wreaked havoc. A plaque commemorating the events reads the following:

    "[...] One man was struck dead, two wounded so they died two hours after
    No father could think on his son or mother mind her daughter
    One man was scorcht so that he liv'd but fourteen days and died
    Whose cloaths was verry little burnt but many were beside
    Were wounded, scorcht and stupefied in that strange a storm
    Which who had seen would say twas hard for to preserve a worm
    The different affection of people then were such
    That touching some particulars we have omitted much
    But what we here related have is truth in most men's mouths
    Some had there skin all over scorcht yet no harm in their cloaths
    One man had money in his purse which melted was in part
    A key likewise which hung thereto and yet the purse no hurt
    Save only some black holes so small as with a needle made. [...]"

    Surrounding the church are a few shops and cafes which provide the masses of bus tourists coming to see the "Cathedral in the Moor" with souvenirs and coffee. If you come early or in the late afternoon, however, you will have the village almost for yourself.

    St Pancras Church in Widecombe

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    Lydford Gorge

    by King_Golo Written Sep 24, 2011

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    A beautiful and not too difficult 2-hour round hike takes you to South England's deepest gorge and highest waterfall at once. Lydford Gorge is 10km away from Tavistock at the westernmost area of Dartmoor. It is owned by the National Trust, meaning you have to pay a rather high admission fee, but it's worth it if you come shortly after the gorge opens and you still have it all for yourself. The track first takes you along the rim of the gorge before you descend towards the waterfall known as the White Lady. It's only a meter wide, but 27.2m deep, thereby making it a romantic and picturesque place. As with every beautiful place, there is also a legend. If you fall into the river and see a lady in white standing in the waterfall, you will not drown. Due to the fierce currents in some places, it is unadvisable to try the experiment yourself... The path continues next to the river behind the waterfall and eventually ends at the ravine "Devil's Cauldron" where you can stand directly above the rushing waters of River Lyd, separated from it only by a grid structure. From there, it's only 5 minutes back to the visitor centre.

    White Lady Waterfall
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    Wistman's Wood

    by King_Golo Written Sep 24, 2011

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    This place is mystical: a tiny forest of gnarled oak trees amidst the open heath of the Dartmoor. It looks as though druids would come at night to brew healing potions or to perform obscure rituals on the moss-overgrown rocks that lie scattered between the trees. The trees themselves sometimes seem to be creatures that will awake in those lonely hours of twilight...

    Wistman's Wood is a must when you are in Dartmoor. Even if you're not into mystery stories, it will enthral you immediately. Easily accessible by a pleasant 2km walk from Two Bridges, the wood is popular during daytime, but you will have it all for yourself if you come after 5.30pm. But don't get lost! The druids might be waiting...

    P.S.: Today's wood consists of two parts. One is open to the public, the other is fenced in order to let the undergrowth become denser again. Only 200 years ago, though, Wistman's Wood was impermeable. It took an expedition 4 hours to cross its dense undergrowth - and they gave up in the middle!

    Wistman's Wood

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    Stop the car..............

    by leics Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    ...............just stop it somewhere safe, and preferably empty of people, and get out. Wrap yourself up if it's cold, put on your waterproofs if it's wet. Just walk a little bit; hear the silence, feel the isolation, imagine yourself on the moor as it once was. Get an ordnanace survey (OS) map and just look at how the archaeology is everywhere; the stone rows and circles, the cists, the cairns, the mine-working, the solid stone walls which enclose fields from prehistory. the deserted Medieval villages, the prehistoric roundhouse foundations.

    You can't explore Dartmoor from a car, you have to walk it to know it. But leaving the car for a little while, and actually being in the scene rather than just seeing it, will give you just a taste of what's out there.

    Cist and tree
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    Look at the walls...........

    by leics Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    ..............they are everywhere, stone-faced and entwined with tree roots, or standing bare and stern-faced against the wind. Some date back to prehistory, others to Medieval times. A close look will show the skill and craftsmanship involved. Take the time to notice.

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    Widecombe In The Moor

    by freya_heaven Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Widecombe I think must be the most visited tourist attraction on Dartmoor. A very prettly little village set in a valley surrounded by beautiful moorland. Coachloads decend to Widecombe and especially for the September Fayre.

    Gorgeous old church, granite village houses, some of which are now quaint gift shops full of trinkets & t towels. Wild ponys can usually be found on on the village green, plus a couple of cafes for the obligatory Devonshire cream tea.

    Widecombe is the home of the poem "Uncle Tom Cobbley" & his fiasco with his poor mule getting to the fayre with his friends, which had been sung by many a folk band.

    "Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare,
    All along, down along, out along, lee,
    For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair,
    With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney,
    Peter Davy, Dan'l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all,
    Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all."

    To read the rest of the poem visit the web site I have provided.

    Widecombe
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