Walking in Dartmoor National Park
The wild dramatic landscape of Dartmoor, it's brooding mass dominating South Devon, is steeped in ancient history and romantic tales. It is the largest wilderness in southern England, rising to 620m at High Willhays, and provides a stark contrast to the mild southern coastal resorts. About half of Dartmoor's area comprises the inner moorland plateau, sliced in two by the river Dart, where wide, rolling, boggy upland is only broken by the dramatic and characteristic rocky Tors. The name 'Tor' comes from the Welsh twr meaning tower, and they certainly resemble surreal ruined ramparts. In the summer sun the vistas over purple and yellow heather and gorse are a delight to the eye; in autumn the russet browns and the eerie mists provoke a more sombre mood.
The outer perimeter of Dartmoor has a softer aspect with streams running through wooded valleys, ancient clapper bridges, winding lanes and farmland. Some of the grey stone farmhouses are medieval and there are a number of attractive villages including North Bovey, Drewsteignton and Throwleigh. Because of its isolation inner Dartmoor has protected and preserved many prehistoric sites including hut circles, standing stones, burial chambers and crosses. Many of these ancient structures will be passed when walking the moors, silent haunting reminders of the many human feet that have similarly passed by. Dartmoor is also famous for its wild ponies who are a delightful addition to the scene and who seem to cope admirably with the vagaries of the climate.
Haytor, with its two separate granite outcrops, is a popular walking destination with routes included in several of the guides listed below. From the summit there are stunning views over the surrounding moorland, the South Devon coast and Teign estuary. Other worthy walking destinations include Houndtor, Meltor and Sheepstor.
The walker should approach Dartmoor well equipped because its height and proximity to the coast ensure swift changes in weather including sudden dense fogs. Navigating in such conditions without a compass is treacherous, particularly on the high moors where there are large areas of bog, identifiable by the bright green sphagnum moss which grows there. Never walk on the open moors of Dartmoor without an OS Explorer map (OL28) and a compass.
Postbridge - Postbridge is a small village located on the B3212 road almost in the centre of the National Park at an ancient clapper bridge crossing of the East Dart River. This is a remote area and to the north-west of the B3212 are high windswept moors devoid of any roads or human habitation, except for the military. The area around Postbridge was once a tin mining centre and there is also much evidence of prehistoric settlement to be seen.
OS Maps: Explorer OL28
A Walk Near Postbridge [SX 674809]
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Area 954 square km