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Explore the Dartmoor National Park with a Cicerone guidebook - Sample Route

Cover of Walking on Dartmoor
Availability
Reprinted
Published
19 Jan 2015
ISBN
9781852843601
Edition
Second
Size
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.6cm
Weight
310g
Pages
256
No. Maps
44
No. Photos
77
1st Published
1 Dec 2002
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Walking on Dartmoor

National Park and surrounding areas

by John Earle
Book published by Cicerone Press

This guidebook contains route descriptions for 42 day walks in the Dartmoor National Park and its surrounding area. The walks all vary in length from 2 to 12 miles long and each route is graded by difficulty from easy to moderate or hard. Most of the walks are circular with a few longer routes that are linear and involve ascents of tors.

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Description

This guidebook, Walking on Dartmoor, contains 42 day walks in the Dartmoor National Park in Devon. The walks in this guidebook are grouped into four large areas of Dartmoor: South Moor, Widecombe Walks, North East Moor and North West Moor. Furthermore most of the walks in this guidebook are circular and are graded by length: long – 12km (7.5 miles) or more; medium – 4km to 12km (2.5 to 7.5 miles) and short – under 4km (2.5 miles).

Each walk is also classed as hard, moderate or easy, depending on the difficulty of the terrain, any necessary climbing and the map reading and navigation skills involved. With nearly all the routes in Walking on Dartmoor, it is possible to shorten them by cutting off corners and leading back onto the route at another place. It is also easy to link walks together in order to create a longer walk if you so wish, and this guidebook includes the itineraries to 5 long-distance walks.

Dartmoor has been called the last great wilderness in England largely due to the fact that it is possible to get further from roads and civilisation than anywhere else in the country. It is generally wild and lonely, with remote areas of uplands and mountains that even in holiday periods it’s possible to get away and walk all day without seeing a soul.

Unlike many upland areas, it is possible to walk anywhere you like on Dartmoor because it is still countryside. You don’t have to follow ridges or valleys like you would do in mountainous regions. However, Dartmoor is a deceptive country for walking because, as it isn’t a true mountainous region and looks like rolling undulating landscape, many people think it is easy to finish walks in a fast time. This is just not possible because walking on Dartmoor will take you over tussocks of grass, heather (bracken in the summer months), peat hags, marshy areas, gorse bushes, and rocky slopes all within a few miles of each other, which will inevitably slow you down.

  • Seasons
    Year-round walking, although extremely busy in peak summer months. Winter walking can require advanced navigation skills. Often boggy!
  • Centres
    Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Princetown, Dartmeet, Stepsbridge and Postbridge.
  • Difficulty
    Mainly easy to moderate walking, not technical. Often boggy, with grass tussocks. Mists can cause navigation difficulties.
  • Must See
    Rolling, sweeping horizons, prehistoric stone circles such as at Merrivale, wild remote 'tors', Dartmoor ponies.

Nov 2017

Walk 8 - New Waste & the Erme Valley:
This walk should start at grid ref 625611 but permissive access through gate was withdrawn in June 2014 so  alternative carpark near to walk is Harford Moor Gate which is about 2 miles to the east of the proper start.

(Thanks to Phil Oliver for this update)

Contents

Contents
Introduction
Geology and formation of Dartmoor
Vegetation
Fauna
Man on Dartmoor
Legends of Dartmoor
Dartmoor today
Where to stay
Dartmoor weather
Clothing
Equipment
Maps and compasses
Dartmoor letterboxes
Climbing on Dartmoor
Walking on Dartmoor
Using the Guide
South Moor
1. Bel Tor Corner, Dr Blackall's Drive, new Bridge, Spitchwick, Leusdon
2. Sharp Tor, Rowbrook Farm, Double Dart Gorge, Dartmeet, Dartmeet Hill, The Coffin Stone
3. Michelcombe, Sandy Way, Holne Ridge, Hapstead Ford, Chalk Ford, Scorriton (or back to Michelcombe)
4. Scorriton, Chalk Ford, Hapstead Ford, Ryder's Hill, Snowdon, Pupers Hill, Lud Gate, Chalk Ford
5. Cross Furzes, Water Oak Corner, Huntingdon Cross, Huntingdon Warren, Lud Gate (Part of the Abbot's Way)
6. Shipley Bridge, Avon Dam, Eastern White Barrow, Western White Barrow, Crossways, Red Lake China Clay Works, Broad Falls, Huntingdon Warren House, Gripper's Hill, Dockwell Ridge, Shipley Tor
7. Shipley Bridge, Zeal, Ball Gate, Glasscombe Corner, Three Barrows, Two Moors Way via Redlake Mineral Railway Track (or Quickbeam Hill), Western White Barrow, Petre's Pits, Bala Brook
8. New Waste, Erme Valley, Piles Copse, Downing's House, The Dancers, Erme Plains, Erme Head, Langcombe Hill, Yealm Head, Yealm Steps, Stalldown Barrow, Hillson's House
9. Cadover Bridge, Trowlesworthy Warren House, Trowlesworthy Tors, Hen Tor, Shavercombe Head, Shell Top, Pen Beacon
10. Cadover Bridge, Trowlesworthy Warren House, Valley of the River Plym, Ditsworthy Warren House, Giants Basin, Plym Steps, Plym Ford, Eylesbarrow Mine, Scout Hut, Gutter Tor Legis Tor
11. Gutter Tor, Legis Tor, Meavy Pool, Ditsworthy Warren House
12. Ditsworthy Warren House, Giants Basin, (Plym Steps, Plym Ford), Eylesbarrow Mine, Scout Hut
13. Shaugh Bridge, West Down, North Wood, Dunstone, Cadover Bridge, Wigford Down, Dewerstone Rock
14. Norsworthy Bridge, Burrator Reservoir, Deancombe, Cuckoo Rock, Potato Cave, Eylesbarrow Tin Mine, Nun's Cross Farm, Siward's Cross, Stone Row, Down Tor
15. Norsworthy Bridge, Track (Newleycombe Lake), Older Bridge, Devonport Leat, Crazy Well Pool, Raddick Lane, Leather Tor Bridge, (Lower Cross)
16. Stanlake, Devonport Leat and Aqueduct, Raddick Hill, Cramber Tor, Cramber Pool, Hart Tor, Prehistoric and Tinners’ Remains on River Meavy, Black Tor
17. Routrundle, Disused Railway Track, Ingra Tor, Swelltor Quarries, King's Tor, Merrivale Prehistoric Remains, Yellowmeade Farm, Foggintor Quarries, Leeden Tor
18. Vixen Tor, Heckwood Tor, Pew Tor, Feather Tor, Windypost Cross
19. Nun's Cross Farm, Abbot's Way, Plym Ford, Great Gnats Head, Erme Pits, Grant's Pot, Phillpott's Cave, Duck's Pool, Black Lane, Fox Tor, Childe's Tomb, Whiteworks
20. Saddle Bridge, Horse Ford, O Brook, Hooten Wheals, The Henroost, Skir Ford, Skir Gut or Girt, Skir Hill, Horn's Cross, Combestone Tor
Widecombe Walks
21. Saddle Tor, Low Man, Hay Tor, Hay Tor Quarries, Granite Railway, Holwell Quarries, (Great Tor), Smallacombe Rocks, Grea Tor Rocks, Medieval Village, Hound Tor, (Chinkwell Tor, Bell Tor), Bonehill Rocks, Top Tor, Foale's Arrishes
22. Bonehill Rocks, Bell Tor, Chinkwell Tor, Honeybag Tor, Thornhill Lane
23. Cold East Cross, Rippon Tor, Newhouse, Foale's Arrishes, Tunhill Rocks, Blackslade Ford, Buckland Beacon
24. Bennett's Cross, Birch Tor, Headland Warren, Stone Row, Headland Warren Farm, Hookney Tor, King's Barrow, Grimspound, (Hameldown Tor), Headland Warren, Mines
25. Hameldown Beacon, Hameldown Tor, Grimspound, Headland Warren Farm, Mines, Soussons Forest, Cator Common
26. Prehistoric Remains, Bellever Tor, Laughter Tor, Huccaby, Brimpts, Babeny, (Dartmeet), Snaily House, Bellever
27. Corndon Down and Tor, Sherwell, Yar Tor
28. Visits to Bowerman's Nose, Jay's Grave, Dunnabridge Pound
North East Moor
29. Crockern Tor, Longaford Tor, White Tors, Brown's House, Flat Tor, Rough Tor, Wistman's Wood, Two Bridges
30. Drift Lane, Roundy Park, Valley of the East Dart, Waterfalls, Sandy Hole, (Cut Hill, Fur Tor), Statts House, Beehive Hut, The Sheepfold
31. Assycombe Hill, Chagford Common, Mine, King's Oven, Warren House Inn
32. Fernworthy Circle, Grey Wethers, Sittaford Tor, Quintin's Man, Whitehorse Hill, Hangingstone Hill, Watern Tor, Teignhead Farm
33. Kestor Rock, Shovel Down, Teign-e-ver Clapper bridge, Scorhill Down, Batworthy Corner
34. Cullever Steps, Oke Tor, Knack Mine, Steeperton Tor, Steeperton Gorge, Taw Marsh, Belstone, Nine Stones, Belstone Tor
North West Moor
35. Moor Gate, Black Down, Yes Tor, High Willhays, West Mill Tor
36. Meldon Reservoir, Black-a-Tor Copse, Sandy Ford, Valley of the West Okement River, Cranmere Pool
37. Brat Tor, Bleak House, (Great Links Tor), Rattlebook Peat Works, Corn Ridge, Branscombe's Loaf, Sourton Tors, Ice Works
38. The Lich Way, Lynch Tor, Fur Tor, Sandy Ford, Watern Oke, Tavy Cleave
39. Higher Godsworthy, The Longstone, White Tor, Stephens’ Grave, Wedlake
40. Staple Tors, Roos Tor, Cox Tor
41. Great Mis Tor, Langstone Moor Circle, Prehistoric and Tinners’ Remains in Walkham Valley
42. Beardown Tors, Foxholes, Crow Tor, Devil's Tor, Beardown Man, Broad Hole, Cowsic River Valley
Long Walks
The Abbot's Way
The Lich Way
Two Moors Way
The Perambulation of 1240
The Mariner's Way
 
Appendix A Route Summary Table
Appendix B Glossary of Dartmoor Terms
Appendix C Useful Contacts
Appendix D Bibliography

Sample Route

WALK 2
Sharp Tor, Rowbrook Farm, Double Dart Gorge, Dartmeet, Dartmeet Hill,The Coffin Stone
StartLarge car park, Bel Tor Corner, Map Ref 695732, or the large car park at the top of Dartmeet Hill, Map Ref 681733, both on the B3357 from Ashburton to Two Bridges.
Distance6.5km (4 miles)
GradeModerate

There is the Tavistock Inn at Poundsgate or a snack bar and restaurant at Dartmeet in summer, both within a few kilometres of the starts.

Start 1. Follow the unfenced road west until it starts to turn south and then strike up to Sharp Tor ahead of you.

Start 2. Follow the path that leads towards Sharp Tor from the car park but do not go right to the bottom of Easdon Combe. Instead contour the head of the little valley, cross the stream and aim at the impressive Tor.

From the top of Sharp Tor you have magnificent views looking east and south-east right down to the coast across the South Hams; 200m (650ft) below you the Double Dart Gorge can be seen with its interlocking spurs. On the opposite side of the wooded valley you can make out the low, squat shape of Bench Tor (Benjy Tor is its old, correct name).

To descend straight down to the road leading to Rowbrook Farm is an awkward, rocky route so you will find it easier to drop back down westwards to the Row Brook and then follow the stream down to the farm.

You will need to ask permission at the farm to pass through the gate marked ‘Private. No right of way’, but there is usually never any problem. Beyond this gate, after the barn wall, you will pass an intriguing number of old farm implements including an old binder for cutting corn and tying it into sheaves.

Walk straight down the field to another gate that leads onto open land. Please do not forget to close it.

The well-defined path now descends to the right. Follow this steeply down to river level. To your left you will see the towering granite rockface of Luckey Tor. In fact this name is a corruption of Lookout Tor for it is said that smugglers used to pass this way and that the Tor made a good lookout for them to watch the Customs men. It is also known as Eagle Rock from the days when eagles wheeled and soared over Dartmoor and, I presume, built their nests here. There are some hard rock climbs on the face.

It is worth going down to the river to look at the water roaring down through a narrow cleft and into Blackpool, a deep and mysterious basin.

Now turn right and follow the path upriver on the left bank. After a while the path becomes quite difficult where the flood has washed sections of the bank away and exposed large platforms of granite. On the bend of the river and also the path, just before Combestone Island, keep a sharp lookout for a strange, stone-lined pit with long, low walls running from it. This is a type of vermin trap that drowned the predators caught in it unlike the other vermin traps (see Appendix A) which used a trip catch to shut a slate gate so that the warrener could kill the animals caught himself.

Keep along the path until you reach the point where the East and the West Dart meet. Unless you are a gregarious person or are dying for a cup of tea you will probably wish to avoid this crowded, popular tourist spot! Keep then on the right side of the wall of the enclosure and at the far end do not go through the gate but turn right up the steep path on Yartor Down. The road swings away from the path but, as you climb, look away to your left and you will see a deep track between the road and where you are. This is one of the old ways across Dartmoor which crossed the rivers by the clapper bridges and linked important villages and towns.

Dartmeet

Soon you should see a large, flat boulder beside the old track. This is the Coffin Stone and as the name suggests is where the bearers rested the coffins of people who had died in the more remote parts of Dartmoor, as they carried them on their last journey to be buried in Widecombe churchyard. You will have experienced the steepness of the hill yourself so it will be easy to imagine the back-breaking task of carrying a coffin up here. They still had 6km (3.5 miles) to go! If you look closely you will see initials and crosses carved on this historic stone.

Continue up the path to the top of the hill to where your car will be waiting for you.

If you started at Bel Tor Corner, you can walk along the road to your car or follow the first part of this walk from the car park to Sharp Tor and then down directly to Bel Tor Corner.

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