Dartmoor, South Devon

Dartmoor, South Devon
  • One of the UK's 15 National Parks
  • Fringed by some of the most beautiful gorges and valleys in the UK
  • Iconic UK landscape. Its tors and high moorland attract visitors from around the world. Great for walks and wild swimming
  • Home to some of the most important prehistoric sites in the UK
  • Superb pubs and restaurants selling local food and drink
  • Main photo: view from Blackingstone Rock across Dartmoor's north moor to its highest peaks at High Willhays and Yes Tor.  These are the only two mountains in southern England. Blackingstone Rock is located near Moretonhamsptead in the north east section of the National Park


We'd recommend browsing our sister site 'Holiday in Dartmoor' if you're looking for detailed information on Dartmoor National Park and the destinations and attractions outlined below.


Why holiday or weekend break in Dartmoor National Park?

To help you choose Dartmoor, we've listed some top destinations and local attractions below.


Best towns and villages in Dartmoor National Park


Dartmoor towns and villages on the eastern side of Dartmoor

Moretonhampstead. Gateway town to the heart of Dartmoor and the north moor, Moretonhampstead is located where two major Dartmoor roads cross. The B3212 rises west to the high moor and east to downs providing sensational views of the National Park. The A382 heads north west to the Chagford area and south east to Lustleigh and Bovey Tracey.

Lustleigh. Pretty Dartmoor village near Bovey Tracey. Great village pub and local walking. Lustleigh Cleave is sensational. The views from Hunter's Tor at the north west end of the cleave are particularly impressive.

Bovey Tracey. Sits on the border of the National Park by the A38 connecting Exeter and Plymouth. The town and surrounding area are packed with visitor attractions from the House of Marbles to The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Parke Estate (National Trust) to Becky Falls. Dartmoor's most famous tor, Haytor Rocks, is at the top of the B3387 from Bovey Tracey. England's first National Nature Reserve, now known as the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve, is in the local area.

Haytor Vale. Two of Dartmoor's most famous tors, Haytor Rocks and Hound Tor, are located near Haytor Vale. This area is easily accessible via the A38 and B3387 so it can get very busy. The views down the eastern flank of Dartmoor National Park to the South Devon coast are immense.

Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Continue west on the B3387 and you come to one of Dartmoor's most famous villages, Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Its popularity is reflected in the number of places in which to eat and drink. Note that one of the UK's best pubs, The Rugglestone Inn, is located on the outskirts of the village.

Ashburton. Ashburton and Buckfastleigh are gateway towns to the Dart Gorge area of Dartmoor National Park. The River Dart Country Park is just outside Ashburton. Spitchwick is an exceptionally popular place at which to wild swim and picnic. Walk to Bench Tor from the car parking areas at Venford Reservoir for awesome views of the Dart Gorge.

Buckfast. Village situated between Ashburton and Buckfastleigh and famous for its abbey. Buckfast Abbey is essential visiting when on holiday in South Devon and Dartmoor.

Buckfastleigh. In addition to being a gateway town to Dartmoor, Buckfastleigh is known for its visitor attractions. The South Devon Railway runs between Buckfastleigh and Totnes. Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies is at the Buckfastleigh end of the railway line. Totnes Rare Breeds Farm is by Totnes.


Dartmoor towns and villages in the heart of Dartmoor

Postbridge. Village in the heart of Dartmoor that's famous for its clapper bridge. Top spot from which to walk. For gentle walks, try Bellever Forest and Bellever Tor. For something more demanding, head onto Dartmoor's north moor. Keen walkers should yomp up to Fur Tor which is the most remote spot in southern England. Magnificent place.

Two Bridges. Popular destination owing to its hotel and access to Wistman's Wood National Nature Reserve. There are many great tors to explore around Wistman's Wood. Longaford Tor provides huge views of Dartmoor.

Princetown. Dartmoor's high moorland town. Discover Princetown National Park Visitor Centre and Dartmoor Prison Museum. Walk to the top of North Hessary Tor for big views into Cornwall. Cycle the Granite and Gears routes. Follow the B3212 down to Burrator Reservoir.

Merrivale. Take the B3357 west of Princetown to explore the remarkable prehistory at Merrivale (English Heritage). 

Dartmeet. The River Dart rises in two places on Dartmoor's north moor. The East Dart River and West Dart River meet at beautiful Dartmeet to form the River Dart which flows through the Dart Gorge on its way to Totnes and Dartmouth on the South Devon coast.


Dartmoor towns and villages on the southern side of Dartmoor

South Brent. If you're on holiday in one of the many pretty villages on the southern coast of South Devon and want to explore Dartmoor then South Brent is a great access point. Walk to Avon Dam Reservoir from Shipley Bridge. Stunning place.

Ivybridge. Ivybridge is the main gateway town to Dartmoor's south moor. Follow the Two Moors Way up onto the high moorland. Alternatively, drive up to Harford village to avoid the slog up the side of the moor.

Sparkwell. Spend a day at Dartmoor Zoo and then visit the brilliant Treby Arms in Sparkwell village.


Dartmoor towns and villages on the northern side of Dartmoor

Chagford. Increasingly well-heeled town in the north east section of Dartmoor. Regularly judged to be one of the best places to live in the UK by national newspapers. The centre of town is packed with pubs and cafes. Chagford sits below Meldon Hill. Yomp to the top for exquisite views of Dartmoor, Mid Devon and Exmoor on the horizon. Follow the River Teign to the Teign Gorge and Castle Drogo (National Trust). Explore Fernworthy Forest or walk Dartmoor's north moor from Batworthy Corner. The impressive Scorhill Stone Circle is one of the many prehistoric sites in the local area. Again, see our sister site 'Holiday in Dartmoor' for detailed information.

Belstone. Beautiful village on the edge of Dartmoor's north moor. Arguably the best place from which to walk on Dartmoor. We'd recommend heading up to Belstone Tors and continuing to Oke Tor and then Steeperton Tor. Amazing walk. Alternatively, slog up to Cosdon Beacon on Cosdon Hill. Afterwards, relax in The Tors Inn in the centre of the village.

Okehampton. Town sat below the highest ground in Dartmoor and southern England. High Willhays and Yes Tor are a must for walkers. Head up to Okehampton Camp from Okehampton and follow the army track to this high ground. Alternatively, drive to the car park by Meldon Reservoir and yomp up to High Willhays and Yes Tor from there. In town, visit Okehampton Castle (English Heritage) and spend a morning or afternoon in the brilliant Museum of Dartmoor Life. Cycle the Granite Way to Lydford.


Dartmoor towns and villages on the western side of Dartmoor

Lydford. Follow the A386 south of Okehampton and you'll come to the pretty village of Lydford. Visit Lydford Castle (English Heritage) and Lydford Gorge (National Trust). There's a great pub in the centre of the village or grab a cream tea at Lydford Gorge.

Tavistock. Continue south and you come to Tavistock between Dartmoor National Park and the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Tavistock is part of a rare UNESCO World Heritage Site. If this is of interest, we'd recommend heading to Morwellham Quay in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is also part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Meavy. Take the A386 to Yelverton and divert to visit Burrator Reservoir and then the brilliant The Royal Oak Inn in Meavy.


Best things to do in Dartmoor National Park


Dartmoor tors

High Willhays. The highest point on Dartmoor and one of only two mountains in southern England. Yes Tor sits at the other end of a broad ridge so both can be visited in one walk.

Yes Tor. The second highest point on Dartmoor.

Haytor Rocks. Dartmoor's most famous tor.

Hound Tor. Huge granite tor across the valley from Haytor Rocks. Popular with families and climbers alike.

Great Staple Tor. One of the most photographed tors on Dartmoor. Over on the west side of the National Park above Tavistock.


Dartmoor gorges and valleys

Teign Gorge near Chagford in the north east section of Dartmoor.

Lustleigh Cleave near Bovey Tracey in the east section of the National Park.

Dart Gorge near Ashburton and Buckfastleigh in the east section of Dartmoor.

Dewerstone Valley in the south west.

Lydford Gorge. National Trust property on the west side of Dartmoor.


Cycling in Dartmoor National Park

Granite Way between Okehampton and Lydford.

Granite and Gears routes at Princetown.

Drake's Trail between Tavistock and Plymouth.

Haldon Forest. Family biking trails beyond the north east border of Dartmoor.

Army ring road. Dartmoor's north moor is criss-crossed by roads used by the army. Great for mountain biking. Access via Okehampton Camp.


Wild swimming in Dartmoor National Park

Spitchwick on the River Dart near Ashburton and Buckfastleigh.


National Trust properties in Dartmoor National Park

Castle Drogo was the last castle to be built in England. Situated at the mouth of the Teign Gorge in the Chagford area, the setting is amazing and offers one of the best valley walks in the UK.

Lydford Gorge. Remarkable gorge with the highest natural waterfall in South West England. Great circular walk and sections of the gorge can be deafening after rain. Grab a cream tea in the cafe afterwards.

Buckland Abbey. Sir Francis Drake's home in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near the western border of Dartmoor. There's a museum in the main house. Discover a Rembrandt self-portrait.

Finch Foundry in Sticklepath near the north border of Dartmoor. Fascinating place. Walk from the property into the beautiful Belstone Cleave.

Parke Estate. Located on the outskirts of Bovery Tracey and great for walks and local food in the cafe.

There are many other attractions and areas managed by the National Trust including the Teign Gorge, Plym Valley and Hembury Woods.


English Heritage properties in Dartmoor National Park

Okehampton Castle. Excellent English Heritage property below Dartmoor's highest ground.

Lydford Castle in Lydford on the west side of Dartmoor by the National Trust's Lydford Gorge.

Grimspound just off the B3212 towards the centre of the National Park. One of Dartmoor's most famous prehistoric sites. Walk up onto Hamel Down for awesome views of the National Park.

Hound Tor Abandoned Medieval Settlement below the popular Hound Tor. Explore the remains of a medieval moorland settlement.

Merrivale has some of the best prehistoric sites on Dartmoor. Two of the stone rows here are amazing.


Major Dartmoor attractions

Dartmoor Zoo. Superb, intimate zoo by south border of Dartmoor National Park.

Becky Falls. Dartmoor beauty spot and popular visitor attraction on the outskirts of Manaton in the east section of the National Park.

House of Marbles is down the road from Becky Falls on the edge of Bovey Tracey by the east border of Dartmoor.

River Dart Country Park. Major Dartmoor and South Devon family attraction on the outskirts of Ashburton in the east section of the National Park.

Canonteign Falls. England's highest waterfall in the Teign Valley in the north east section of Dartmoor.

Pennywell Farm is just outside the south east border of Dartmoor.

[Closed. The Miniature Pony Centre on the B3212 by Moretonhampstead.]

Buckfast Abbey between Ashburton and Buckfastleigh in the east section of the National Park.

South Devon Railway running between Buckfastleigh on the edge of Dartmoor and Totnes in the South Devon countryside.

Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies at Buckfastleigh.


Major attractions just outside Dartmoor

Morwellham Quay. Part of a rare UNESCO World Heritage Site, Morwellham Quay is located south west of Tavistock in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Tamar Trails Centre. Great outdoor activities hub by Gunnislake in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Haldon Forest Park including Go Ape Haldon Forest Park beyond the north east border of Dartmoor.


Gardens in and around Dartmoor National Park

Stone Lane Gardens and Mythic Garden Sculpture Exhibition near Chagford is one of the most impressive gardens in the Westcountry.

The Garden House beyond Yelverton and the south west border of Dartmoor is superb. Combine with a visit to Buckland Abbey Gardens.

Castle Drogo Gardens. Beautiful gardens at Castle Drogo (National Trust) near Chagford.


Museums/Visitor Centres in Dartmoor National Park

Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton by the north west border of the National Park. The museum tells the story of Dartmoor's prehistory, history and geology. Highly recommended.

Dartmoor Prison Museum in Princetown is one of South Devon's most quirky attractions. Try Bodmin Jail in Bodmin if this type of thin is of interest.

Dartmoor National Park has many visitor centres.  Princetown National Park Visitor Centre in Princetown, Postbridge National Park Visitor Centre in Postbridge in the heart of Dartmoor National Park and Haytor National Park Visitor Centre below Haytor Rocks all help you discover more about the area.


Dartmoor pubs

The Warren House Inn is the highest pub in southern England. Amazing moorland location on the B3212.

The Rugglestone Inn. Voted one of the best UK country pubs in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018.

Fingle Bridge Inn in the Teign Gorge near Castle Drogo (National Trust) and Chagford.

The Royal Oak Inn in Meavy. Beautiful village pub.

The Tors Inn. Great walking pub in Belstone on the edge of Dartmoor's north moor.