ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hiking in the Dartmoor National Park

Updated on April 3, 2012

Dartmoor National Park

I'm fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful places in the UK, The Dartmoor National Park, which means I have easy access to some glorious scenery and walks, plus the wide range of outdoor activities that take place there. If I were feeling really fit I could cycle (on and off road), go camping in the wild, go rock climbing, or horse riding, but my partner and I choose to go hiking; wandering about in some really breathtaking scenery.

Dartmoor National Park

The park is regulated by The Dartmoor National Park Authority who maintain the wild areas, the paths, gates and stiles. They also regulate new building, so any plans must be submitted to them. Having walked in lots of national parks, I think the signage we have here on Dartmoor is second to none, which saves a lot of getting lost time! They also have a really good website and information centres in most of the tourist towns.

It sometimes feels easier to hike around than it does to drive. Some of the little lanes can be quite scary and most of us residents' cars have a few scrapes and dents!

Dartmoor Letterboxing

 My partner and I like to just hike, we're content to excercise our hearts and lungs a bit and see some really great scenery, but some people love Letterboxing - I guess it appeals to the kind of people who like collecting and cataloguing things.

What is Letterboxing

It's a cross between orienteering and a treasure hunt.  Small boxes are hidden all over Dartmoor, some are wooden and some plastic, some are very well hidden and some less so, some involve easy walks, and others require alot of effort.  The boxes usually contain a stamp, card or notebook and maybe one or two other trinkets.

It was started on Dartmoor in 1854 by James Perrott from Chagford, a pretty little town well worth a visit. James built a small cairn at Cranmere Pool, North Dartmoor and put a glass jar inside, so that visitors who'd made the hike could leave a calling card.

Letterboxes slowly increased to the sport we have today.

Dartmoor Snowboarding

How to Letterbox

Before you begin, it's probably best to contact the Letterbox 100 Club, as they can provide all the rules and advice. They will also supply clues and have twice yearly meets, on the clock-change weekends (March and October for those of you that don't have this odd practice).

EQUIPMENT: An Ordnance Survey Map is always a boon when let loose on Dartmoor! A rubber stamp, an ink pad and some cards or a notebook.

The aim is to follow a trail of clues, find the boxes and leave your calling card, making a record of which box you have found.

There are various rules to stick to, such as not visiting certain areas during the lambing/nesting season, and watching out for firing ranges, but the Letterbox 100 club can help with these.

A favourite walk - Moretonhampstead

As I said, my partner and I aren't into the Letterboxing thing, we just like to wander about. We completed a walk recently that was well worth the climb. We look out over Easdon Tor, and thought it might be fun to amble up there with the dogs. As we'd just spent a week walking over the border in Cornwall (we became grockles for the week) one dog was considerably less keen than the other and needed quite a bit of coaxing and bribery!

We set off from Moretonhampstead, another lovely Moorland Town, well worth spending a few hours exploring.  You could drive to North Bovey to begin the walk, in which case take the signed turning opposite the Co-Op in Moretonhampstead, or you could walk it, it's only a mile and a half along pretty lanes. Either way North Bovey is the village you're aiming for.

Mardon Down

North Bovey

This is the first village you come to on the walk (actually it's the only one and it's pronounced north buvvy). It's a picture postcard village of thatch roofed, granite cottages surrounding a village green. There's a babbling brook with stepping stones, a very good pub, The Ring of Bells, run by Simon Saunders (Jennifer's brother) and a pretty Church. Unfortunately, the high house prices on Dartmoor and the fact that the village is so picturesque means that many of the cottages are now holiday lets - good for the tourists, but not for village infrastructure.

if you're driving, park in the car park which is well signed. From the car park turn left, past the two burnt out holiday cottages, which burned down this year, and for which my partner and a colleague, both reserve fire crew had a letter of thanks (I am singing their praises because they won't).

Dartmoor National Park

Continue along the lane, past Aller Farm and Aller Mill on the left hand side.  After around a mile of gentle climbing you will see a bridlepath signed through a gate on your right.  Take this path, which leads you through some mixed woodland.  Again this is a gentle climb, but in places the path is a bit boggy, so some good walking boots are a must.  Don't mark yourself as a tourist (grockle) by wearing flip-flops or court shoes for this climb.

Once through the woodland you come to a dirt lane running horizontally in front of you, the bridlepath crosses over this to continue straight ahead.  You will now be walking through bracken, which when we did was taller than me.  The walk begins to get much steeper - just keep on going up!

You eventually meet a green path which will take you to the top of Easdon Tor. There are several rocky outcrops and a triangulation point at the top, and the views over the Moors towards Haytor and Hound Tor are spectacular.  Once your breathing calms down a bit you're able to enjoy them more.

On the day we went, the moors were hazed with purple Ling, broken by the gold of late-flowering Gorse.  There was a shower sweeping in, and the bruised sky was split by sunbeams sweeping down the Tors like searchlights - truly spectacular.

 According to the Ordnance Survey Map, there is a permissive path that leads down the other side of the Tor and back to the road, but we couldn't find it, so ended up walking back the same way we came. 

It's a walk we'll come back to and explore further, so if we find that path I'll publish it here!

Trekking Poles

Terri's knees have been playing her up a bit recently, her right lateral collateral ligament to be precise, especially on the downhill bits of walks (see my blog for the gory details). I also suffered for months of knee pain after shovelling snow last winter, and it sometimes recurrs when I'm out hiking.

We were told that walking poles make a difference to the load placed through your knees and decided to give them a try. Wow, what a difference, they're great for stability, and no more knee pain! We both walk with poles now, although when we're out with the dogs we use only one pole obviously.

We bought a simple pair of trekking poles in funky metallic colours. They have a shaped handle grip for comfort and a wrist loop, so you can have free hands when needed without putting your pole down. Ours are collapsible, height adjustible and have a little flange above the ferrule to stop the hiking pole from sinking into Dartmoor mud. In shape, they look a little like a ski pole.

A colleague at work swears by the Nordic Walking poles she has bought for herself (they help to relieve her back pain, so she can exercise more). These are the long poles that make you use your arms more when walking, so not only taking the weight off your knees, but making you exercise more of your body. I'm not sure I could manage these and a dog, but she thinks they're great even when walking her German Shepherd. Each to their own, as they say.

Easdon Tor from Mardon

Essential Hiking Equipment

Grab yourself some hiking essentials, before setting out on the Moors, click here to see some really useful equipment.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Mike J 

      7 years ago

      Hello Georgina,

      Yes just obtained my group leader qualification so am now on Moorland Guides website. Hope you are keeping up the good work


    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      7 years ago from Dartmoor

      Hi Mike,

      So there's a fellow Moretonian also hubbing!

    • profile image

      Mike J 

      7 years ago

      Hello Georgina, Yes I know Easdon fairly well as have a bit of my training up there for walking group leader work, have you found all the boundary stones yet, I can only find 6 of the 7 there and the path to the road?Didn't realise you walked as well, next time I see you I will ask how you are getting on as I also live in Moretonhampstead

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      9 years ago from Dartmoor

      Thanks, my day jobs have intruded too much this week, which is very frustrating as I've only managed a quick squint at my hubs, but there are plenty more Dartmoor walks in my head (and feet)!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thoroughly enjoying your posts on Dartmoor - keep up the great work.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)