Top 10 Activities around Dartmoor

Top 10 Activities Around Dartmoor

A visit to Devon really isn’t complete without experiencing the beauty of Dartmoor. From rugged tors to ancient woodland, Dartmoor really is a paradiise that most tourists never get to see. These are our top 10 activities in and around Dartmoor. Note that we can’t accept any liability for recommendations provided here.

Haytor Rocks

1. Tor Bagging

There are 315 tors (rock outcrops / high points) within the Dartmoor National Park. The vast majority are on public land and accessible to visitors. Be aware that some tors are in MOD firing ranges. Check before walking!

 These are our favourites:

Yes Tor & High Willhayes OS Ref: SX580 901

Great Links Tor OS Ref: SX550 867

Great Mis Tor: OS Ref: SX562 769

Steeperton Tor: OS Ref: SX618 887

Fur Tor: OS Ref: SX587 830

Haytor Rocks: OS Ref: SX756770


Surrounded by steep sided hills, Meldon reservoir is a deep water lake formed by the Meldon dam just to the south west of Okehampton. The walk across the dam and around the reservoir forms the start of many trekking routes up on to Dartmoor itself. The water from Meldon reservoir is used by South West Water to supply drinking water to Okehampton, Holsworthy and parts of Northern Cornwall. Just to the north of Meldon reservoir is the Meldon viaduct crossing the West Okemont river valley at an impressive height of 150 feet above the valley floor below. The viaduct was originally built in 1874 for the London & South Western railway but now is home to the Granite Way cycle path.

Car park with pay and display:

OS Map reference: SX561 918

Wild Swimming Dartmoor

3. Wild Swimming

Shh! Don’t tell anyone but there are a few places around Dartmoor that are just sublime for a dip, a drench or swim. Watch out for streams in flash flood and midges. Note that the water is normally VERY cold!

Our favourite spots are:

West Okemont plunge pool: OS Ref: SX558 901

Meldon Pond: OS Ref: SX564 921

Tavy Cleave: OS Ref: SX554 832

Shilley Pool: SX652 912


As keen botanists, one of our favourite pastimes on Dartmoor is finding undisturbed habitat, often in pristine condition. Please respect these special places and keep to the paths. A couple we’re willing to share are:

Wistman’s Wood. An ancient upland oak wood with incredibly rare horsehair lichen. OS Ref: 614 778

West Okement River: Vellake Corner

This spot is an upland bog sited just north west of Black Tor and south of Meldon Reservoir. At certain times of year you can find round leaved sundew (a carnivorous plant)

A particular love of ours is to visit Cholwell stables near Mary Tavy. The stables is located right on the moorland and caters for all levels of riding ability. (Melanie is far better than I am). Riding is out on the moorland of Dartmoor providing fantastic views of the nearby tors and the countryside to the west. The staff are so friendly and the horses very forgiving!

Cholwell Stables »

Granite Way Dartmoor Cycling

6. Cycling on the Granite Way

The Granite way is a superb traffic free cycle track that has been created that follows the old rail line used for transporting granite and slate from the mines on Dartmoor. The route rises up from Okehampton alongside the existing railway, over Meldon viaduct and follows the route through to Lydford. The views are fantastic and there are even pubs and cycle shops en-route for the essential pint or sticky bun!

Granite Way »

Finch foundry is a 19th century blacksmith’s forge in the village of Sticklepath. The forge is the last working water powered forge in the country and can be seen running a number of times per day. The water driven power hammers are so powerful that the buildings in Sticklepath were built with extra strong foundations to handle the vibrations. The Finch Foundry is run and operated by the National Trust. Booking is essential if you want to see the forge running.

Fingle Bridge

8. Fingle Bridge

Said to be one of the prettiest bridges in Devon, Fingle bridge cross the river Teign. Right next door is The Fingle bridge Inn. Perfect for a drink and some food and a paddle in the river afterwards.


A National Trust site, Lydford Gorge is the deepest river gorge in the South West of England. After periods of wet weather, the river becomes a turbulent storm of water. At drier times the river valley is a serene wildlife haven perfect for a walk. The circular trail is only a mile, includes Whitelady waterfall and the Devil’s caulron but feels more due to steep staircases and tricky paths to navigate next to the river.

Read more »

Dartmoor Prison Museum

10. Dartmoor Prison Museum

Dartmoor prison is located on the bleak moorland near Princetown. A still active prison, visitors can experience life ‘banged up’ in this penal establishment. Having seen a number of noteworthy inmates including the mad axeman Frank Mitchell and political prisoner Eamonn de Velera (The first minister of Ireland), the museum has a fascinating tale to tell.

Read more »