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Located in the centre of Devon (south-west England), Dartmoor is a region of moorland covering almost 1,000 square kilometres. The region is protected as the Dartmoor National Park, established in 1951.
The higher parts of the moor are exposed, with numerous granite outcrops, while the lower regions are of traditional farmland and woodlands. The landscape has been carved by fast moving rivers in steep sided gorges lined with ancient woods.
Dartmoor is best known for the walking opportunities it provides. There are numerous possibilities for hiking in the Park, on both planned pathways (of which there are more than 700 km) and in freedom - since most of the Park has no restrictions on access, and walkers are free to roam as they please.
See also Dartmoor letterboxes for a fun way to explore the moors.
Guided walks are also available, organised from the visitor centres around the edges of the park.
A significant portion of the Dartmoor National Park is designated for army training use - this section has restricted access when manouvres are taking place (the public are made aware of this by the use of red warning flags).
Some of the highlights of a visit include:
Ancient stone monuments: One of the most interesting aspects of Dartmoor is the large number of prehistoric remains to be found - especially the remains of stone huts, menhirs and stone circles. More recent (but still very old!) are the many stone bridges to be found crossing the fast moving rivers and streams.
Haytor Down - region of open moorland to the south-east of Dartmoor, particularly popular with walkers
Higher Uppacott - a traditional medieval longhouse and settlement, dating from the 13th century
Princetown - the centrally placed village that was the earliest settlement to be established in recent centuries (dating from the early 19th century) and includes the visitor centre for the region (and Dartmoor prison), a main regional centre for tourists
Postbridge - centrally placed village for exploring the interior of the National Park. A highlight is the 'clapper bridge' - an ancient bridge made from large stone slabs placed on simple stone pillars.
Dartmoor villages and towns
- Ashburton - an interesting historical centre for the largest town within the boundaries of Dartmoor National Park
- Bovey Tracey - well placed for explorations in the Bovey Valley (eastern Dartmoor)
- Chagford - bustling small town
- Drewsteignton - well placed village in the north-east
- Horrabridge - village
- Ivybridge - attractive setting, and medieval bridge (southern border)
- Lustleigh - very pretty village
- Lydford - another of the attractive small villages of Dartmoor
- Moretonhampstead - bustling small town
- Okehampton - popular starting point for visits to north Dartmoor
- South Tawton - small village
- South Zeal - small village
- Sticklepath - small village
- Tavistock - western border
- Widecombe-in-the-Moor - very popular (and very visited) village
There are numerous small villages and hamlets in addition to those listed above
Information and visitor centres
These are located at:
- Haytor (tor - rocky outcrop)
- Newbridge (bridge over the dart river)
See also in the nearby towns of Okehampton and Tavistock
- Dartmoor Zoological Park (previously Dartmoor Wildlife Park) near Ivybridge and Plymouth
Map of Dartmoor and places to visit
See more places nearby in the Devon guide