Walks South Dartmoor

Author: Richard Hallewell

Rewalked by Rob & Becky Coope

The South Dartmoor check had been another victim of Covid restrictions. Originally planned for April 2020, it had to be re-scheduled a couple of times, but we eventually managed to get everything in place for a visit in early October. Our base for the week was the delightful Old Byre at Dousland near Yelverton. The owners had been extremely helpful and allowed us to change bookings on more than one occasion due to restrictions, and so it was with great joy that we finally arrived at the cottage on a sunny afternoon. It was a wonderful base and perfectly placed to access all of the walks in the book.

Never having visited Dartmoor before, I was immediately taken with the area. The grazing ponies are a wonderful feature of the moors. We were there during the busy ‘annual gather’ and it was great to see this unfold through the week. The walking is wonderful. The moor walks are mostly on short turf, passing masses of historical relics from many periods as well as the wonderful natural torrs which are a feature of the area. Lower level walks featured run through the wooded valleys of the rivers which carry water off the moor.

It is very different to other areas we have visited. There are often a huge number of grassy paths criss-crossing the moor – making it quite difficult to give precise directions, so a degree of navigational skill is needed, particularly if the famous mist rolls in! In general, the area was much quieter than many of the other areas we cover. The towns and villages are wonderful, with many quaint pubs and cafés, but minutes after leaving them you find yourself on the open moor. Many car parks were busy, but again, once you got a mile or so from them you could quickly find yourself in complete solitude with only the grazing sheep, cattle and horses for company.

The minor roads which lead to some of the smallest villages in the area are quite a challenge, being very narrow with few passing places, and to help alleviate the problems there seems to be a move to discourage visitors from driving to these. As a result, we had to make a couple of major changes to the book, the main one was rewriting the walk on Harford Moor as the car park at the original start point has been closed. We also decided to drop the walk from the tiny village of Scorriton for the same reason.

If you have not visited Dartmoor before, then we can thoroughly recommend it as a walking destination. Highlights of the week included the routes around Burrator Reservoir, the circuit by the wooded valley of the River Walkham and the high level circuit above the Avon Dam Reservoir.

For more details, or to buy a copy, please click here.

Photos: A sunny day at the tarn on Cox Tor (centre); dropping down from Corndon Down (bottom)