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Coordinates: 50°34′N 4°0′W / 50.567°N 4°W / 50.567; -4

Dartmoor
Protected Area
View down the River Meavy towards Sharpitor and Leather Tor
Country  United Kingdom
Part  England
County Devon
Highest point High Willhays[1]
 - elevation 621 m (2,037 ft)
Lowest point Doghole Bridge[1]
 - elevation 24 m (79 ft)
Area 954 km2 (368 sq mi)
Animal Dartmoor Pony
National Park of England 1951
Management Dartmoor National Park Authority
 - location Bovey Tracey
Visitation 10.98m
IUCN category II - National Park
Position of Dartmoor within England
Website: http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/

Dartmoor is an area of moorland in the centre of Devon, England. Protected by National Park status, it covers 954 square kilometres (368 sq mi).[1]

The granite upland dates from the Carboniferous period of geological history. The moorland is capped with many exposed granite hilltops (known as tors), providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife. The highest point is High Willhays, 621 m (2,037 ft) above sea level. The entire area is rich in antiquities and archaeology.

Dartmoor is managed by the Dartmoor National Park Authority whose 22 members are drawn from Devon County Council, local District Councils and Government.

Parts of Dartmoor have been used as a military firing range for over two hundred years. The public enjoy extensive access rights to the rest of Dartmoor, and it is a popular tourist destination. The Park was featured on the TV programme Seven Natural Wonders as the top natural wonder in South West England.

Contents

Physical geography

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Geology

Dartmoor includes the largest area of granite in Britain, with about 625 square kilometres (241 sq mi) at the surface, though most of it is under superficial peat deposits. The granite (or more accurately adamellite) was intruded at depth as a pluton into the surrounding sedimentary rocks during the Carboniferous period, probably about 309 million years ago.[2] It is generally accepted that the present surface is not far below the original top of the pluton; evidence for this includes partly-digested shale xenoliths, contamination of the granite and the existence of two patches of altered sedimentary rock on top of the granite.[3] A considerable gravity anomaly is associated with the Dartmoor pluton as with other such plutons.[citation needed] Measurement of the anomaly has helped to determine the likely shape and extent of the rock mass at depth.

Tors

Panorama of some better known Dartmoor tors in snow

Dartmoor is known for its tors – large hills, topped with outcrops of bedrock, which in granite country such as this are usually rounded boulder-like formations. More than 160 of the hills of Dartmoor have the word "Tor" in them but quite a number do not[1] . However this does not appear to relate to whether or not there is an outcrop of rock on their summit. The tors are the focus of an annual event known as the Ten Tors Challenge, when over a thousand people aged between 14 and 21 walk for distances of 56, 72 or 88 km (35, 45 or 55 mi) over ten tors on many differing routes.

High Willhays with Yes Tor behind

The highest points on Dartmoor are on the northern moor: High Willhays, 621 m (2,037 ft), (grid reference SX580895) and Yes Tor, 619 m (2,031 ft), (grid reference SX581901) The highest points on the southern moor are Ryder's Hill, 515 m (1,690 ft), (grid reference SX690660), Snowdon 495 m (1,624 ft), and an unnamed point of 493 m (1,617 ft) at (grid reference SX603645). Probably the best known tor on Dartmoor is Haytor (also spelt Hey Tor), 457 m (1,499 ft), (grid reference SX757771). For a more complete list see List of Dartmoor tors and hills.

Rivers

The high ground of Dartmoor forms the catchment area for many of Devon's rivers. As well as shaping the landscape, these have traditionally provided a source of power for moor industries such as tin mining and quarrying.

The moor takes its name from the River Dart, which starts as the East Dart and West Dart and then becomes a single river at Dartmeet. It leaves the moor at Buckfastleigh, flowing through Totnes below where it opens up into a long ria, reaching the sea at Dartmouth.

For a full list, expand the Rivers of Dartmoor navigational box at the bottom of this page.

Bogs

Much more rain falls on Dartmoor than in the surrounding lowlands. As much of the national park is covered in thick layers of peat, the rain is usually absorbed quickly and distributed slowly, so the moor is rarely dry. In areas where water accumulates, dangerous bogs or mires can result. Some of these, up to 3.7 metres (12 ft) across and topped with bright green moss, are known to locals as "feather beds" or "quakers", because they shift (or 'quake') beneath your feet. Quakers result from sphagnum moss growing over the water that accumulates in the hollows in the granite.[4][5]

Aune Mire

The vegetation of the bogs depends on the type and location. Blanket bog, which forms on the highest land where the rainfall exceeds 2,000 mm (80 in) a year, consists mainly of cotton-grass (Eriophorum species), sedges (Carex and Rhynchospora), Bog Asphodel and Common Tormentil, with Sphagnum thriving in the wettest patches. The valley bogs have lush growth of rushes, with sphagnum, cross-leaved heath, sundews and several other species.[6]

Some of the bogs on Dartmoor have achieved notoriety, the most notable being Fox Tor Mires, supposedly the inspiration for Great Grimpen Mire in Conan Doyle's novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.[7] Sabine Baring-Gould, in his Book of Dartmoor (1900) related the story of a man who was making his way through Aune Mire at the head of the River Avon when he came upon a top-hat brim down on the surface of the mire. He kicked it, whereupon a voice called out: "What be you a-doin' to my 'at?" The man replied, "Be there now a chap under'n?" "Ees, I reckon," was the reply, "and a hoss under me likewise."[8]

Climate

Princetown[9]
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
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7
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average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm

Along with the rest of South West England, Dartmoor has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than locations at similar height in the rest of England. At Princetown, near the centre of the moor at a height of 453 metres (1,486 ft), January and February are the coldest months with mean minimum temperatures around 1 °C (34 °F). July and August are the warmest months with mean daily maxima not reaching 18 °C (64 °F). Compared with Teignmouth, which is on the coast about 22 miles to the east, the average maximum and minimum temperatures are 3.0 °C and 2.6 °C lower respectively, and air frost is at least five times as frequent.[10] On the highest ground, in the north of the moor, the growing season is less than 175 days - this contrasts with some 300 days along most of the south coast of the county.[10]

Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection. In summer, convection caused by solar surface heating sometimes forms shower clouds and a large proportion of rainfall falls from showers and thunderstorms at this time of year. The wettest months are November and December and on the highest parts of the moor the average annual total rainfall is over 2000 mm (about 80 in). This compares with less than 800 mm (31.5 in) in the lower land to the east around the Exe Estuary, which is in the rain shadow of the moor.[11]

Between 1961 and 1990 Met Office data shows that there was an average of 20 days when snow fell on the moor, and over 40 days a year with hail, which is as high as anywhere else in the country. This results when cold polar maritime air that has travelled over a large expanse of warmer ocean is forced to rise over high country.[11]

When average temperatures at Princetown between 1961–2000 are compared, the average annual temperature in the decade 1990–2000 was up by 0.2 °C, and the late winter temperature increased by 0.5 °C.[12]

History

Pre-history

The majority of the prehistoric remains on Dartmoor date back to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Indeed, Dartmoor contains the largest concentration of Bronze Age remains in the United Kingdom, which suggests that this was when a larger population moved onto the hills of Dartmoor. The large systems of Bronze Age fields, divided by reaves, cover an area of over 10,000 hectares (39 sq mi) of the lower moors.[13]

The climate at the time was warmer than today, and much of today's moorland was covered with trees. The prehistoric settlers began clearing the forest, and established the first farming communities. Fire was the main method of clearing land, creating pasture and swidden types of fire-fallow farmland. Areas less suited for farming tended to be burned for livestock grazing. Over the centuries these Neolithic practices greatly expanded the upland moors, and contributed to the acidification of the soil and the accumulation of peat and bogs.[14]

The highly acidic soil has ensured that no organic remains have survived, but the durability of the granite has meant that the remains of buildings, enclosures and monuments have survived well, as have flint tools. It should be noted that a number of remains were "restored" by enthusiastic Victorians and that, in some cases, they have placed their own interpretation on how an area may have looked.

Standing stones

Beardown Man, Dartmoor

Numerous menhirs (more usually referred to locally as standing stones or longstones), stone circles, kistvaens, cairns and stone rows are to be found on the moor. The most significant sites include:

Hut circles and kistvaens

There are also an estimated 5,000 hut circles still surviving, despite the fact that many have been raided over the centuries by the builders of the traditional dry stone walls. These are the remnants of Bronze Age houses. The smallest are around 1.8 m (6 ft) in diameter, and the largest may be up to five times this size.

Some have L-shaped porches to protect against wind and rain; some particularly good examples are to be found at Grimspound. It is believed that they would have had a conical roof, supported by timbers and covered in turf or thatch.

There are also numerous kistvaens, Neolithic stone box-like tombs.

Many ancient structures, including the hut circles at Grimspound, were reconstructed during the 19th century; most notably by civil engineer and historian Richard Hansford Worth. Some of this work was based more on speculation than archaeological expertise, and has since been criticised for its inaccuracy.

The historical period

Ancient cross close to Crazywell Pool

The climate worsened over the course of a thousand years from around 1000 BC, so that much of high Dartmoor was largely abandoned by its early inhabitants.

It was not until the early medieval period that the weather again became warmer, and settlers moved back onto the moors. Like their ancient forebears, they also used the natural granite to build their homes, preferring a style known as the longhouse – some of which are still inhabited today, although they have been clearly adapted over the centuries. Many are now being used as farm buildings, while others were abandoned and fell into ruin.

The earliest surviving farms, still in operation today, are known as the Ancient Tenements. Most of these date back to the 14th century and sometimes earlier.

Some way into the moor stands the town of Princetown, the site of the notorious Dartmoor Prison, which was originally built both by, and for, prisoners of war from the Napoleonic Wars. The prison has a (now misplaced) reputation for being escape-proof, both due to the buildings themselves and its physical location.

The Dartmoor landscape is scattered with the marks left by the many generations who have lived and worked there over the centuries – such as the remains of the once mighty Dartmoor tin-mining industry, and farmhouses long since abandoned. Indeed the industrial archaeology of Dartmoor is a subject in its own right.

Myths and literature

Jay's Grave

Dartmoor abounds with myths and legends. It is reputedly the haunt of pixies, a headless horseman, a mysterious pack of 'spectral hounds', and a large black dog. During the Great Thunderstorm of 1638, Dartmoor was even said to have been visited by the Devil.

Many landmarks have ancient legends and ghost stories associated with them, such as Jay's Grave, the ancient burial site at Childe's Tomb, the rock pile called Bowerman's Nose, and the stone crosses that mark mediaeval routes across the moor.

A few stories have emerged in recent decades, such as the 'hairy hands', that are said to attack travellers on the B3212 near Two Bridges.

Dartmoor has inspired a number of artists and writers, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventure of Silver Blaze, Eden Phillpotts, Beatrice Chase, Agatha Christie, Rosamunde Pilcher, Laurie King, and the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould.

Ownership and access

Over half of Dartmoor National Park (57.3%) is private land; the Forest of Dartmoor being the major part of this, owned by the Duke of Cornwall. The Ministry of Defence owns 14% (see below), 3.8% is owned by water companies (see Dartmoor reservoirs), 3.7% by the National Trust, 1.8% by the Forestry Commission and 1.4% by Dartmoor's National Park Authority. About 37% of Dartmoor is Common land.[15]

Dartmoor differs from some other National Parks in England and Wales, in that since the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985[16] much of it has been designated as 'Access Land', which, although it remains privately owned, has no restrictions on where walkers can roam. In addition to this Access Land, there are about 730 km (449 mi) of public rights of way on Dartmoor, and many kilometres of permitted footpaths and bridleways where the owner allows access.[17]

Because of the 1985 Act, Dartmoor was largely unaffected by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which established similar rights in other rural parts of the country, but in 2006, this Act opened up much of the remaining restricted land to walkers.

Use by the Ministry of Defence

There is a tradition of military usage of Dartmoor dating back to the Napoleonic wars. There is still a large British Army training camp at Okehampton – also the site of an airbase during the Second World War.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) uses three areas of the northern moor for manoeuvres and live-firing exercises, totalling 108.71 square kilometres (41.97 sq mi),[1] or just over 11% of the National Park. Red and white posts mark the boundaries of these military areas (shown on Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale maps). Flagpoles on many tors in and around the ranges fly red flags when firing is taking place. At other times, members of the public are allowed access. Blank rounds may also be used, but the MoD does not notify the public of this in advance.

Some "challenge" and charitable events take place with assistance of the military on Dartmoor including the long established Ten Tors event and the more recent Dartmoor Beast.

Preservation

The clapper bridge at Postbridge
Dartmoor pony on Dartmoor

Throughout human history, the landscape has been exploited for industrial purposes. In recent years, controversy has surrounded the work of industrial conglomerates Imerys and Sibelco (formerly Watts Blake Bearne), who have used parts of the moor for china clay mining. Licences were granted by the British Government but were recently renounced after sustained public pressure from bodies such as the Dartmoor Preservation Association. Many of these licences pre-date much of the heavy machinery which is in use today. Imerys were singled out for particular criticism after work at Lee Moor destroyed a number of archaeologically significant sites.

The British government has made promises to protect the integrity of the moor; however, the cost of compensating companies for these licences, which may not have been granted in today's political climate, could prove prohibitive.

The military use of the moor has been another source of controversy, such as when training was extended in January 2003. The National Park Authority received 1,700 objections before making the decision. Objectors claimed that Dartmoor should be an area for recreation, and that the training disturbs the peace.

Those who objected included the Open Spaces Society and the Dartmoor Preservation Association. During her lifetime, Lady Sayer was another outspoken critic of the damage which she perceived that the army was doing to the moor.

Towns and villages

A typical Dartmoor tor close to Haytor.

Dartmoor has a resident population of about 33,000,[1] which swells considerably during holiday periods with incoming tourists. The largest settlements within the National Park are Ashburton (the largest with population about 3,500), Buckfastleigh, Moretonhampstead, Princetown, Yelverton, Horrabridge, South Brent, Christow and Chagford.[1]

For a full list, expand the Settlements of Dartmoor navigational box at the bottom of this page.

Landmarks

  • Black Tor Beare – remote woodland of stunted oaks over 305 m (1,001 ft) above sea level in West Okement valley
  • Bowerman's Nose – unusual rock formation
  • Brentor Church – remote church 344 m (1,129 ft) high on crag at western edge of moor[18]
  • Burrator Reservoir – late Victorian reservoir
  • Castle Drogo – Edwardian faux castle built by Edwin Lutyens on crag above Teign Gorge, Drewsteignton
  • Childe's Tomb – ancient burial site
  • Church House, South Tawton – 15th century church ales house
  • Cosdon or Cawsand Beacon – prominent hill, northern extremity of moor, site of beacon fire for invasion warning
  • Cranmere Pool – original letter box site and location of the legend of Cranmere Binjie
  • Crazywell Pool – artificial lake
  • Dartmeet – meeting point of East and West Dart
  • Devonport Leat – man-made water channel
  • Duck's Pool – location of a memorial to local writer William Crossing
  • Fernworthy Dam & Reservoir – granite-faced concrete dam and lake in Fernworthy Forest, nr. Chagford
  • Great Links Tor – dominant tor on NW scarp of moor
  • Grey Wethers – pair of ancient stone circles
  • Grimspound – Bronze Age settlement
  • Haytor Granite Tramway – remarkable early tramway with stone rails; ran from quarries at Haytor to Stover Canal
  • Haytor Rock – prominent tor and viewpoint between Bovey Tracey and Widecombe
  • High Willhays – highest point on Dartmoor
  • Hound Tor – rugged tor with remains of Iron Age village
  • Jay's Grave – mysterious burial site
  • Lydford Gorge – dramatic, very deep and narrow gorge with waterfalls
  • Meldon dam & viaduct – 201 m (659 ft) wide and 45 m (148 ft) high concrete dam and dramatic Victorian iron bridge which itself is 165 m (541 ft) wide and 46 m (151 ft) high [19]
  • Powdermills, Cherrybrook – remains of gunpowder grinding mill near Two Bridges
  • Rattlebrook railway – remains of horse-worked railway track to peat works near Great Links Tor
  • Scorhill stone circle – (Pronounced 'Scorill') well-preserved circle of standing stones near Teign-e-ver, Gidleigh
  • Skaigh Valley – narrow, wooded valley leading up on to moor at Belstone; on famous Sticklepath geological fault
  • Tavistock Canal – 19th century canal
  • Tavy Cleave – dramatic river gorge on western moor near Mary Tavy
  • Teign-e-ver – confluence of North Teign and Wallabrook; clapper bridges & tolmen stone
  • Two Bridges – 18th century coaching inn
  • Warren House Inn – highest inn in SW England
  • Wheal Betsy – engine house of mine on Blackdown, Marytavy
  • Widgery Cross – granite cross atop Brat Tor, memorial erected by Dartmoor artist William Widgery to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887
  • Wistman's Wood – remote copse of stunted oaks in valley of West Dart near Two Bridges

Leisure activities

Until the early 19th century Dartmoor was not considered to be a place worth visiting: in the 1540s John Leland wrote in his Itinerary that "Dartmore is muche a wilde Morish and forest Ground", and even by 1789 Richard Gough's opinion was that it is a "dreary mountainous tract".[20] At the turn of the 19th century John Swete was one of the first people to visit Dartmoor for pleasure and his journals and watercolour paintings now provide a valuable historical resource.[21]

The oldest leisure pursuit on the moor is hill walking. William Crossing's definitive Guide to Dartmoor was published in 1909, and in 1938 a plaque and letterbox in his memory were placed at Duck's Pool on the southern moor. Parts of the Two Moors Way and the Templer Way are on Dartmoor.[22]

Letterboxing originated on Dartmoor in the 19th century and has become increasingly popular in recent decades. Watertight containers, or 'letterboxes', are hidden throughout the moor, each containing a visitor's book and a rubber stamp. Visitors take an impression of the letterbox's rubber stamp as proof of finding the box and record their visit by stamping their own personal stamp in the letterbox's logbook. A recent related development is geocaching. Geocache clues make use of GPS coordinates, whereas letterboxing clues tend to consist of grid references and compass bearings.

Whitewater kayaking and canoeing are popular on the rivers due to the high rainfall and their high quality,[23] though for environmental reasons access is restricted to the winter months.[24] The River Dart is the most prominent meeting place, the section known as the Loop being particularly popular.

Other activities are rock climbing on the granite tors and outcrops, some of the well-known venues being Haytor, Hound Tor and The Dewerstone;[25] horse riding, which can be undertaken on any of the common land;[26] cycling (but not on open moorland);[27] and angling for wild brown trout, sea trout and salmon—although much of the river fishing on Dartmoor is privately owned, permits are available for some stretches.[28]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "General Information Factsheet". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/learningabout/lab-printableresources/lab-factsheetshome/lab-generalfactsheet.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  2. ^ Durrance & Laming 1982, pp.86, 101
  3. ^ Durrance & Laming 1982, p.88
  4. ^ Ian Mercer: Bogs and Mires of Dartmoor, in Hunt & Wills 1977, p.16.
  5. ^ Sandles, Tim. "The Bogs & Mires of Dartmoor". Legendary Dartmoor. http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/bogs_moor.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  6. ^ Brunsden, Denys; Gerrard, John (1970). "The Physical Environment of Dartmoor". in Crispin Gill. Dartmoor. A New Study. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. pp. 40–42. ISBN 0-7153-5041-2. 
  7. ^ Sandles, Tim. "Dartmoor's Notorious Fox Tor Mires". Legendary Dartmoor. http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/grim_mire.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  8. ^ Milton 2006, p.2
  9. ^ "Princetown 1971-2000 averages". Met Office. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/averages/19712000/sites/princetown.html. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  10. ^ a b Webb 2006, p.30
  11. ^ a b Webb 2006, p.31
  12. ^ Webb 2006, pp.32–33
  13. ^ "Prehistoric Dartmoor". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/lookingafter/laf-culturalheritage/laf-archaeology/laf-prehistoricdartmoor.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  14. ^ Role of anthropogenic fire and in creating moors, and moor-burning in sustaining them, described in Pyne 1997, pp. 348-369.
  15. ^ "Dartmoor Commons" (pdf). Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/print/lab-comm.pdf. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  16. ^ Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 on the OPSI website
  17. ^ "Public Rights of Way". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/vi-prow. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  18. ^ http://www.viamichelin.com/viamichelin/gbr/dyn/controller/Datasheet/GBR0001538/41104/Panorama
  19. ^ http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/sheet_3a-b.pdf
  20. ^ Milton 2006, pp.19–20
  21. ^ Milton 2006, p.36
  22. ^ "Walking For All". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/visiting/vi-enjoyingdartmoor/vi-walkingforall.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  23. ^ UK Rivers Guidebook - South West England
  24. ^ "Canoeing". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/visiting/vi-enjoyingdartmoor/vi-canoeing.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  25. ^ "Climbing". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/visiting/vi-enjoyingdartmoor/vi-climbing.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  26. ^ "Horse Riding". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/visiting/vi-enjoyingdartmoor/vi-horse-riding.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  27. ^ "Cycling on road and off road". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/visiting/vi-enjoyingdartmoor/vi-cycling.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  28. ^ "Other Activities". Dartmoor National Park Authority. http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/visiting/vi-enjoyingdartmoor/vi-otheractivities.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 

Sources

  • Crossing, William Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, the 1912 edition reprinted with new introd. by Brian Le Messurier. Dawlish: David & Charles, 1965.
  • Durrance, E. M.; Laming, D. J. (1982). The Geology of Devon. University of Exeter. ISBN 0-85989-247-6. 
  • Hunt, P. J.; Wills, G. L. (eds) (1977), Devon Wetlands, Exeter: Devon County Council ISBN 0-903849-19-4.
  • Milton, Patricia (2006). The Discovery of Dartmoor, a Wild and Wondrous Region. Chichester: Phillimore. ISBN 1-86077-401-6. 
  • Pyne, Stephen J. (1997) Vestal Fire: an Environmental History, Told through Fire, of Europe and Europe's Encounter with the World. University of Washington Press, Seattle ISBN 0-295-97596-2.
  • Webb, Bruce (2006). "The Environmental Setting of Human Occupation". in Roger Kain. England's Landscape: The South West. London: Collins. pp. 30–33. ISBN 0-00-715572-7. 

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Dartmoor National Park article)

From Wikitravel

Dartmoor National Park covers a large area of Devon in the West Country of England.

Understand

The 'Forest' of Dartmoor refers to a hunting area rather than an area of woodland. This is one of the best areas in the UK for bronze age remains and much of the moor seems almost littered with stone circles, stone rows and burial stones.

Clapper bridge
Clapper bridge

History

Dartmoor forest; Dartmoor prison at Princetown, built during the Napoleonic wars; Conan Doyle's book, The Hound of the Baskervilles featuring Sherlock Holmes is set in foggy Dartmoor. Tin mining has had an important role in Dartmoor's history. The so-called stannary towns had their own assemblies, laws and courts and there was even a stannary gaol. Rabbit rearing was important once and there are places still carrying the name of Warren. More recently the china clay industry provided the raw materials for the Potteries area of Staffordshire.

Landscape

Moorland, rocky tors & quite a lot of wet places called bogs. Tors are hills with granite outcrops.

(Modern!) pony with prehistoric remains
(Modern!) pony with prehistoric remains

Flora and fauna

Ferns, wild ponies, Dartmoor cattle. Foxes, Buzzard & badgers in reasonable quantity.

Climate

Can be very changeable. You can be sun-burnt and get lost in mist on the same day.

Get around

Plan to be on foot to see Dartmoor's best. There are lots of lay-bys where it is safe to leave your car all day. There are plenty of tors to climb and rugged footpaths between them. Energetic children can also manage hours of hiking on Dartmoor as the terrain is suitable. Bring plenty of drinking water and dress for changing weather (layers and water-proofs). A decent set of weather proof hiking boots make for a more comfortable walk on Dartmoor as there's plenty of wet marshy land to cross.

  • Bovey Tracey - prehistoric remains visible all round the roads.
  • Buckland-in-the-Moor - wooded area with an unusual church clock in the village - having 'My dear mother' in place of the numbers 1-12. Ten commandments are to be found in stone on nearby Buckland Beacon (very eroded).
  • Chagford - a village deep in the moor.
  • Cornwood - a southern Dartmoor village.
  • Drewsteignton on the north-east of the moor with a great old pub, the Drewe Arms.
  • Harford - a tiny village with a picturesque bridge and church near Cornwood.
  • Haytor Vale - near some very striking tors.
  • Lydford - A village north of Tavistock with a spectacular limestone gorge and a castle that was once used as the stannary prison.
  • Mary Tavy - a pleasant moorland village north of Tavistock that generally gets less crowded than many areas but the walks are as good.
  • Meavy - village green and ancient oak tree.
  • Peter Tavy - as Mary Tavy above.
  • Shaugh Prior - village with granite church with old china clay pits all around.
  • Sheepstor - the tor is very shapely and immediately above the village , which has the tomb of James Brooke, white rajah of Sarawak.
  • Widecombe-in-the-Moor - Though best known for its song it's worth seeing for its large church (sometimes known as 'the cathedral of the moor.' Good pubs.
  • Brent Tor - north of Tavistock - a small hill but reputedly the first sight of land for a sailor who vowed to put a church on top and the church is there.
  • Burrator reservoir - this is artificial and supplies Plymouth but it seems like a natural lake from many angles - visit combines well with Meavy and Sheepstor.
  • Castle Drogo [1]
  • Dartmeet - scenic junction of the West and East Dart
  • Double Waters - particularly beautiful junction of the river Tavy and its tributary, the Walkham.
  • Fingle Bridge - on the river Teign on the north-east of the moor.
  • Fog-in-tor Quarry - (near Princetown)
  • Lustleigh Cleave
  • Shaugh Bridge - at the junction of the Meavy and Cad rivers to form the Plym.

Do

Letterboxing

Letterboxing is very similar to the much newer craze of Geo-caching, but has been around a lot longer.

Like geo-caching each post/letter box consists of a small weather-proof box which contains a rubber stamp and may also contain a note pad. The stamp designs are limited only by the imagination of the person who placed them, and come in a very wide range sizes. As you find each box you record your visit by taking an impression of the located stamp. Finding the boxes usually requires a series of clues, ranging from the very easy, to the fiendishly difficult. Most letterboxes are placed on the moor by private individuals, who give their clues to friends and family. Some clues will be made available for the wider community to find. Some boxes are placed by charities/groups wishing to raise a little money. These charity boxes normally form the basis of a circular route, in a particular part of Dartmoor, and usually consist of a set of stamps with a common theme. These are also only available for a short period and the clue sheets are sold for a nominal fee. Most people who do letterboxing on a regular basis will usually have their own stamp which they carry around with them to put in the notepad of the boxes they find.

Letterboxing on Dartmoor has a big following in the local region and beyond. You will find people who go out for an hour or two on their way home from work, as well as people who come down from all over, to spend a week walking to find new and exciting stamps.

The number of boxes is constantly changing as people lose, update or simply remove stamps.

Letterboxing on Dartmoor.
Dartmoor Letterboxes Funstuff
Official website
Wikipedia Info

Eat

The Old Police Station in Princetown serves some of the best fish and chips on the moors.

  • Peter Tavy Inn - 15th century.
  • Plume of Feathers, Princetown
  • Cornwood Inn
  • Mary Tavy Inn - 16th century
  • Royal Oak, Meavy - origins in 15th century - a very ancient oak tree on the village green (royal connections???)
  • Rugglestone Inn - superb traditional inn at Widecombe.
  • Old Inn, Widecombe
  • Fingle Bridge Innellent setting near Drewsteignton.
  • Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton
  • Elephant's Nest, Horndon, Mary Tavy - 16th century - great Moorland location.
  • Walkhampton Inn
  • Dartmoor Inn, Lydford
  • Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale - on the Tavistock to Princetown road -
  • Moorland View (Boutique thatched holiday cottage), North Bovey (Near Moretonhampstead), 07786 264865, [2]. checkin: 4.30pm; checkout: 10.30pm. Boutique, thatched self-catering holiday cottage dating from 1705. Two bedrooms, sleeping four. Short breaks available. Membership of Bovey Castle country club included. Great local walks, and a 20-second stroll to the 13th century Ring of Bells pub. 07786 264865, www.moorlandview.com £120/night.  edit

Camping

Campsites in Dartmoor are scattered sparsely over the National Park. Rough camping/bivying is allowed but is restricted in many areas. Worth checking the local information centres and the park website for the restrictions.

Otherwise a really good way of finding a tent pitch is to ring up farms. A fair number who aren't denoted as campsites on Ordnance Survey maps nevertheless will offer a pitch for a nominal fee (a few pounds per night). They usually have phone numbers available through a quick web search. They have the added advantage of being quieter and in fantastic locations for backpacking.

North Dartmoor:

  • East Okement Farm - Quiet farm just inside North Dartmoor, close to the edge of the military ranges, excellent location for accessing many paths. About £6/night/pitch

Stay safe

Dartmoor can be a deceptively dangerous place. The weather is very changeable and you could get surrounded in mist very quickly, in the summer it can get extremely hot and you may not be able to find shade for several miles . If you're planning on going out for a walk of any length on Dartmoor, it is best to know how to read a map and use a compass, this is vital if you plan to go off the beaten track, it can be almost impossible to navigate some areas and you will end up walking in circles. If you must use a GPS, take plenty of spare batteries.

As with any outdoor activity, it is always best to let somebody know where you're going and how long you expect to be.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DARTMOOR, a high plateau in the south-west of Devonshire, England. Its length is about 23 m. from N. to S. and its extreme breadth 20 m., the mean altitude being about 1500 ft. The area exceeding 1000 ft. in elevation is about 200 sq. m. It is the highest and easternmost in a broken chain of granitic elevations which extends through Cornwall to the Scilly Isles. The higher parts are open, bleak and wild, strongly contrasting with the more gentle scenery of the well-wooded lowlands surrounding it. Sloping heights rise from the main tableland in all directions, crested with broken masses of granite, locally named tors, and often singularly fantastic in outline. The highest of these are Yes Tor and High Willhays in the north-west, reaching altitudes of 2028 and 2039 ft. Large parts of the moor, especially in the centre, are covered with morasses; and head-waters of all the principal streams of Devonshire are found here. Two main roads cross the moor, one between Exeter and Plymouth, and the other between Ashburton and Tavistock, intersecting at Two Bridges. Both avoid the higher part of the moor, which, for the rest, is traversed only in part by a few rough tracks. The central part of Dartmoor was a royal forest from a date unknown, but apparently anterior to the Conquest. Its woods were formerly more extensive than now, but a few small tracts in which dwarf oaks are characteristic remain in the lower parts. Previous to 1337, the forest had been granted to Richard, earl of Cornwall, by Henry III., and from that time onward it has belonged to the duchy of Cornwall. The districts immediately surrounding the moor are called the Venville or Fenfield districts. The origin of this name is not clear. The holders of land by Venville tenure under the duchy have rights of pasture, fishing, &c. in the forest, and their main duty is to "drive" the moor at certain times in order to ascertain what head of cattle are pastured thereon,. and to prevent trespassing. The antiquarian remains of Dartmoor are considered among those of Devonshire.

Dartmoor convict prison, near Princetown, was adapted to its present purpose in 1850; but the original buildings were erected in 1809 for the accommodation of French prisoners. A tract of moorland adjacent to the prison has been brought under cultivation by the inmates.

See S. Rowe, Perambulation of the. .. forest of Dartmoor (Plymouth, 1848); J. L. W. Page, Exploration of Dartmoor (London, 1889); S. Baring-Gould, Book of Dartmoor (London, 1900).


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

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Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Proper noun

Singular
Dartmoor

Plural
-

Dartmoor

  1. A national park in Devon, southern England.

See also


Simple English

File:050715 014 uk dev
Hay Tor is one of Dartmoor's most well known sites. Granite from here was used to build Nelson's Column and Tower Bridge in London

Dartmoor is a national park in Devon, a county in England. Its highest point is High Willhays, 621 metres high. This is the highest point in the south of England. It has a large area of moorland, and is very hilly. There is much woodland on its lower slopes.

Dartmoor is famous for its tors - outcrops of rock on top of many of its hills. These are the remains of volcanic activity in the carboniferous period.

Animal life on Dartmoor includes birds such as the ring ouzel and dunlin, and the endangered marsh fritillary butterfly. Its bogs are home to many unusual plants such as the sundew.

Dartmoor has many very old buildings. Some of these buildings date back to the Stone Age, for example, Beardown Man.

[[File: |thumb|Beardown Man, Dartmoor - a relic of prehistoric times]]

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