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Church of St. Michael De Rupe, Brentor, Dartmoor, Devon
Church of St. Michael De Rupe, Brentor, Dartmoor, Devon

Things To Do In Dartmoor

Author Terri Wilding, who lives on Dartmoor, said "There's magic everywhere, if you look" and you certainly don't have to look far to find it here. You may not believe in the stories of witches, pixies and other magical folk who inhabit the area but there's no denying Dartmoor has a unique magic that has attracted people for millennia.

Do You Believe in Dartmoor’s Magic?

Dartmoor's ancient landscape is a place of mystical beauty. There are nearly 1,000 archaeological sites across the national park, some dating back further than the great pyramids of Egypt. For all its age and history, Dartmoor has never felt more relevant. Modern life is fast paced and stressful, and we need somewhere like this to escape from pressure and distraction so we can focus on the things that are most important.

People have thrived on Dartmoor for thousands of years. Evidence of their lives is everywhere from stone cairns dating back over 4,000 years to the deserted medieval buildings of Hound Tor, Georgian country houses, and modern businesses that seek to protect the unique beauty of the landscape while allowing it to be accessed and enjoyed by everyone.

Walk, cycle, shop, eat, discover the origin of the myths and stories, and fall in love with Dartmoor for yourself.


Discovery Days

Emsworthy Rocks
Emsworthy Rocks, Dartmoor National Park

As one of Britain's earliest areas to be protected by National Park status, you can trust that there is a lot to discover in Dartmoor. No day needs to be boring with all this on the doorstep.

Walks around Dartmoor

Since Dartmoor is famous for walking, it makes sense to start your discovery of Dartmoor on foot. There are endless miles of walks to suit all abilities whether you want a short stroll through a village or a strenuous slog up a tor. Always dress appropriately for the often exposed conditions and changeable weather. Getting stuck on the moors in inclement weather without waterproofs is no joke!

A walk around the ruins of the medieval village at Hound Tor is short and mainly flat. There is a car park at Swallerton Gate, and the site is signposted. Wind Tor has a nice view and is only 100 metres from the road if you park near Dunstone Down. For more of a challenge, try the 7.5-mile walk that starts (and ends) at the car park near Lydford and goes past Brat Tor, Bleak House, Logan Stone and Great Nodden, taking in fantastic views of Chat Tor and Woodcock Hill. The walk from Okehampton to Bellever crosses the north of Dartmoor in around 14.5 miles. The Dartmoor Way runs for 90 miles around the national park, and the Templer Way follows the route granite mined in Dartmoor took when it was exported to Teignmouth.

There really is a walk for everyone so either ask your cottage owner for ideas around where you are staying, or stop by one of the friendly Dartmoor visitor centres in Postbridge, Newton Abbot or Yelverton.

Lydford Gorge

Devils Cauldren near Tavistock
Devil's Cauldren in Lydford Gorge

Another fantastic day of discovery is Lydford Gorge. Managed by the National Trust, the gorge is impressively deep and is beautiful at any time of year, but possibly most in early autumn when the leaves are changing, and the boughs of the apple trees in the orchard are laden with fruit. Walk to Whitelady Waterfall which, like Tunnel Falls and the Devil's Cauldron, are all even more impressive after rain, and count all the different types of trees you can identify. There are two tea rooms and several nice picnic spots, a bird hide and a children's playground. Lydford also has a castle (free entry), so it is worth making a day of it.

Bovey Tracey

Known locally as simply "Bovey", Bovey Tracey bills itself as the Gateway to the Moors. It is a friendly, vibrant market town (market days are the first and third Saturday of the month from 8.30am to 1pm in Union Square) with lovely independent shops, cafes and pubs. The Devon Guild of Craftsmen is in Riverside Mill. The guild has 240 members who display and sell work through the shop, and it is a good place to pick up a unique souvenir or gift. You should also stop by the House of Marbles where they not only make glass marbles, but have a marble run that will (probably) interest even the most jaded teenager, and a decent restaurant as well.

Parke is a short walk from Bovey Tracey. There is an orchard and walled garden, peaceful woodland and a walk over the River Bovey, and an award winning cafe. The cows and Dartmoor ponies are easy to spot, but you may also see weasels, swallows, and a host of other birds and wildlife. Bovey Tracey's visitor's centre is conveniently near the main car park.


Foal Lying Down
A native foal on Darmoor

Widecombe is another example of the lovely towns and villages dotted around Dartmoor. There is a monthly market held on the fourth Sunday of the month in Church House, selling a variety of locally produced food. It is particularly good for meat and a good place to stock up a barbecue or picnic, and to get your food for the week. The annual fair, held in September, sees an influx of visitors who come to enjoy the festivities, and the village pub, the Old Inn, is a good point to stop-off during your walk or bike ride.

Hound Tor

The settlement of Hound Tor is thought to have been deserted sometime during the 1400s, and the ruins are a popular walking destination. You may want to avoid it on a misty or gloomy day, and certainly at night, if you have a delicate disposition as rumours of hauntings have persisted for centuries. The setting was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's book "Hound of the Baskervilles", and even if you don't believe in ghosts, it is hard to deny the eerie atmosphere.

Dartmoor Zoo

Tucked away near Sparkmoor, Dartmoor Zoo and the family who run it are the subjects of the book (and later, film) "We Bought a Zoo". It is a lovely venue with lions, tigers, jaguars, lynx, otters, wolves, bears, foxes, snakes, tortoises, parrots and owls just to name a few! The smaller size of the venue means you can get relatively close to the animals. The only downside of the zoo is that it is not completely accessible for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. However, there are electric mobility scooters to hire if you book them in advance.

Rainy Days

Bellever Bridge
Bellever Bridge, Dartmoor

There's no escaping the fact that it rains in Dartmoor. This is England, after all, and the green and pleasant land does not stay so green and pleasant without a little precipitation from time to time. Have a look at these indoor Dartmoor attractions for wet weather fun.

Castle Drogo

The name sounds like something out of "Game of Thrones", but Castle Drogo is the last castle built in England and barely 100 years old. The castle is Grade I listed and the gardens are Grade II listed, so you know they are special.

Overlooking the Teign Gorge, rooms in the castle have been set out to show what it would have looked like when the Drewe family lived there in the early part of the 20th century. If the weather allows, there are walking paths winding from the castle to the base of the gorge and the river. The property has been managed by the National Trust since 1974 and has recently undergone extensive restoration. There is often something interesting happening whether it's a photography workshop or a mushroom forage.

Buckfast Abbey

Unlike many of Britain's great abbeys which still lie in ruins after Henry VIII's Reformation, Buckfast Abbey was rebuilt in the early 1900s and is once again a place of worship and retreat. It has a soothing atmosphere that makes it easy to understand why it is a favourite destination for visitors to Dartmoor. Sit in the Abbey Church and soak up the serenity before treating yourself to a delicious lunch or snack in the cafe. Buckfast Tonic wine is made in a building across the road from the abbey, and you can buy it while you are there. The gardens are particularly lovely, even in wet weather, and if you are a keen gardener then check the calendar to book yourself onto one of the tours and talks with the Abbey's head gardener.

Lose yourself in a good book

Book by fireside
Read a novel set in Dartmoor

The desolate beauty of Dartmoor's landscape lends itself perfectly to hair-raising thrillers and edge-of-your-seat mysteries. Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mystery Hound of the Baskervilles is a classic and as gripping now as it was when first published in 1902 while Agatha Christie also borrowed heavily from the moor's sense of mystique to write The Sittaford Mystery. PopCo is by Scarlett Thomas and engages readers from start to finish with its tantalising story about a toy designer in a small Dartmoor town who receives cryptic messages. If you love discovering fresh writers, try The House at the Edge of the World, the debut novel from Julia Rochester who skillfully uses Dartmoor's changeable weather to enhance the words, the same way that a soundtrack creates drama in a film.

Dartmoor Prison

Most people never step foot inside a prison and you'll be very glad of that when you see what conditions used to be like. HMP Dartmoor is a fascinating look at more than two centuries of incarceration with exhibitions leading back to when it was built to house French prisoners from the Napoleonic war, later accommodating American prisoners, convicts, and conscientious objectors from WWI.

HMP Dartmoor is still an active prison for low category offenders. The prison museum is open all year round (except Wednesdays), and well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome. It is in Princetown where there is a good visitor centre, brewery, shops and restaurants.

Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton

People have lived and worked in Dartmoor since the Bronze Ages and you can learn all about their lives at the Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton. There is so much to see, and many of the exhibits are hands-on, so it is great for kids. The museum is spread over three floors and the volunteers who work there are friendly and informed to help you make the most of your visit.

While you are in Okehampton you may want to see the remains of the castle, apparently haunted by Lady Howard who is said to have murdered four husbands and who travels in a ghostly carriage with a headless coachman. The market town caters well for visitors who come to walk in Dartmoor and you will find a variety of shop, amenities and information.

Dartmoor Waterfalls

Stone cross at Windy Post
Ancient stone cross at Windy Post

Zip up your raincoat and see Dartmoor's waterfalls in the rain. Canonteign Falls is a manmade Victorian folly, but that does not detract from the mesmerising beauty of water splashing down a 70-metre fall. The grounds include extensive gardens, seven lakes, a nature trail and play area and a pair of giant rabbits.

An alternative to Canonteign Falls is Becky Falls near Manaton. There is a lot to see apart from the falls and walks, including "animal encounter" and feeding activities on weekends and during school holidays, explorer backpacks for children and indoor crafts.

Moretonhampstead Motor Museum

The motor museum at Moretonhampstead is a labour of love with a collection of vehicles ranging from horse-drawn carts to contemporary cars. You get the impression that it started when the owner's personal collection outgrew his garage, but it is well curated and has an impressive variety of more than 100 vehicles, and you will probably find yourself reminiscing about your own history of cars as you wander through. In addition to the display, visitors can also see what's going on in the restoration workshop. It is open every day in summer, and Thursday to Monday during the rest of the year. The museum is close to Castle Drogo and the Dartmoor Miniature Pony Centre.

Adventure Days

Paraglider over Dartmoor
Paragliding over Dartmoor

You do not need to look far to find an opportunity for adventure in Dartmoor!

Dartmoor Bouldering

Dartmoor's granite tors attract climbers of all levels who relish a challenge. The Haytor area is one of the more popular areas as it is easy to get to and has a variety of boulders and peaks to climb, including Bonehill, Hound Tor and Saddle Tor. Bovey Woods is better known to local climbers and has five main areas, or you could try the Black Hill Boulders, Combeshead and Easdon.

Tree Top Adventures

Hidden in the forest near Tavistock, Tree Surfers is a thrilling tree-top adventure. There are three different high-ropes courses to test even the most fearless guest with their variety of bridges, swings and ropes. Visitors have the chance to take the "Leap of Faith" and free fall 40 feet down from a treetop platform, or test their courage on the zip line, and there is a smaller course suitable for younger children who want to join in the fun. Tree Surfers is an exciting way to get a bird's eye view of Dartmoor.

An alternative to Tree Surfers is Tree Top Adventures at The Rock Centre in Chudleigh. It's a smaller course than that at Tree Surfers, but no less fun. The Rock Centre also has a zip line, and outdoor bouldering and climbing walls.


Burrator Reservoir
Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor

Cycling, both on and off the road, is a fantastic way to see Dartmoor. The Dartmoor Way is a waymarked 95-mile loop around the National Park taking in some of the prettiest villages and nicest countryside views. Some of it is on hard ground as well as tarmac, and the gradient can make it quite a challenge in places.

Other cycling trails in Dartmoor National Park include the Granite Way, the North Bovey loop (25-miles and very hilly), and the Princetown loop which goes along the old railway line to Yelverton and Burrator Reservoir. Bike hire is available from Big Peaks in Newton Abbot and Tavistock Cycles, among other places.


Swap saddles and explore on horseback. Horseriding is a very popular pastime in Dartmoor, and there are some excellent stables offering riding tours in Dartmoor. Adventure Clydesdale is one example, with a stable full of gentle giants who may be better known for their use as a working horse, but who make fantastic guides for even the most nervous rider. Other reputable stables include Cholwell and Dartmoor Riding and Trekking.

Lazy Days

View over Dartmoor National Park
Sunset over Dartmoor National Park

Balance a day of discovery or adventure with a relaxing day in Dartmoor.


Arguably the most photogenic village in Dartmoor, Lustleigh is a charming mix of whitewashed cob and thatched houses, a medieval church, and tea room. It is near Becky Falls and Hound Tor, and some lovely footpaths go through and around the village.


Another lively market town is Tavistock, right on the border of the National Park. It is perfect for a day's shopping with the Pannier Market open Tuesday to Saturday. The farmers market is held there on Friday, while Tuesday is for antiques and collectables, and Wednesday and Thursday are for crafts and other traders. The Tavistock Museum has an interesting collection of local artefacts which mainly focus on the mining heritage of the area, while slightly out of town is Countryman Cider brewery and Stannary Brewing which hosts a relaxed beer and barbecue event on the last Saturday of the month.

Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary

What's not to like about butterflies and otters? The Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary is a treat for all ages with nothing more taxing to do than admiring colourful butterflies and cute otters as they go about their business. The otters are fed three times a day, and you can leave and re-enter on the same day, so if the animals are snoozing or hiding when you arrive, you can go off (maybe taking a ride on the nearby South Devon Railway) and come back later. The sanctuary has a children's play area, and there is a nice walking path beside the River Dart.

The South Devon Railway operates a vintage steam train for seven miles between Buckfastleigh and Totnes. The Buckfast Butterfly and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary is at one end, while the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm is at the other, and all attractions can be accessed individually or on a "triple attraction" ticket. If you park at Totnes train station (the zoo is behind the train station and over the footbridge) make sure you have change for the pay and display parking.

Pack a Picnic

Dartmoor Ponies
Dartmoor Ponies

There are lots of perfect picnic spots in Dartmoor. One of the prettiest is on the banks of the River Dart at Spitchwick Common where there is ample room to spread out a picnic blanket and play a game of football or rounders before lunch. It can get very busy on nice weekends and during the summer holidays, so park near Fingle Bridge and follow the path that runs beside the River Teign until you find a place you like.

Delicious Dartmoor

Dartmoor has a great choice of pubs and restaurants providing the perfect antidote for tired muscles.

The Cromwell Arms in Bovey Tracey provides a warm welcome to all (whether you have two or four legs!). On Dartmoor's Real Ale and Artisan Trails, The 'Crommies' as it is known to locals serves good food and a fine selection of ales.

Packed full of olde wolde charm, The Rock Inn in Haytor Vale is a proper English pub and traditional for all the right reasons. The setting beneath Haytor Rocks is as attractive as the menu which showcases local produce from the countryside and coast. Make sure you take your walking boots with you as the views from the top of Hay Tor are well worth the half hour walk.

Why not soak up the views of Dartmoor from afar at The Horn of Plenty Country House Hotel in Gulworthy. Just outside of the national park, it is worth the drive whether you just want to indulge in a Devonshire cream tea in the drawing room or on the patio, or sample some fine dining from their award winning restaurant. Be sure to book as the tranquil setting, stunning views and fabulous food make this a popular choice.

Our gastro recommendations would not be complete without a mention to The Horse in Moretonhampstead. Bringing the city to the countryside, the owners of this popular pub have created the perfect marriage of rustic and chic with a delicious and fresh menu with a modern twist. Another of Dartmoor's dog-friendly pubs!

Garden House Yelverton

Save the Garden House for a sunny day because you will want to spend as much time as possible admiring the beautiful gardens. The ten-acre garden was developed over the course of four decades and is a horticultural work of art. The garden is open from the end of March to October. There is a cafe serving locally produced food, and a plant centre selling plants that have either been propagated in the garden or which come from suppliers chosen for the quality of their plants.

Weekenders' Guide

Essential Guide to Dartmoor National Park
A whirlwind tour!

Dartmoor is crammed with activities that are relaxing, adventurous, unique and memorable. Here are a few which sum up how amazing Dartmoor National Park is.

Go wild swimming at Sharrah Pool

It is not easy to get to this stretch of the Dart as it takes half an hour or more to walk there through some (admittedly lovely) woodland, but working up a sweat makes the swim that much better.

Take to the skies in a hot air balloon

Bovey Castle can arrange a morning or evening flight which is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion.

Wander through Wistman's Wood

Even if you only have a weekend, make time to walk through Wistman's Wood. The shorter 2.5-mile route starts at the Two Bridges car park and takes you around an ancient forest (said to be where the Devil keeps his Whist hounds) to Druid's Stone. You can either turn back here or continue towards Longaford Tor and Littleford Tors, then back past Crocken Tor to the car park, adding another two miles or so to the route. It showcases Dartmoor's unique natural beauty.

See the Miniature horses

Ponies have lived on Dartmoor for centuries but they are wild and it is not advisable to get close to them. Far friendlier are the residents of the Miniature Pony Centre near Bovey Tracey where you can meet miniature horses and donkeys, shire horses, farm animals like pigs and sheep, and rabbits and guinea pigs. It is an overload of cuteness (you haven't seen cute until you have seen a miniature donkey foal) and a really good way to see happy, friendly animals in a safe environment.

Last Minute Offers in Dartmoor

Thinking of a break in Dartmoor? Let us tempt you with a selection of our best last minute offers. Remember, we don't charge a booking fee, so the price you see is the price you pay.

Did you know?

... there are only around 350 native Dartmoor ponies left grazing wild on the commons.

... the highest tor in the Dartmoor National Park is High Willhays, standing 2,037 feet above sea level.

...Okehampton Castle isn't the only haunted place in Dartmoor. Ghosts of both Roman legionnaires and a Tudor hunting party have been seen on Hunter's Tor, and even the most pragmatic local avoids driving over Hairy Hands Bridge at night.

...Spinster's Rock is the earliest archaeological site in Dartmoor National Park, dating back 6,000 years to the Early Neolithic period.

...Dartmoor was the site of the Quidditch world cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (although it was filmed at Beachy Head in Eastbourne).