Things to do in Dartmoor

Penned on the 27th June 2023

Things to do in Dartmoor

From the deepest valley to the highest tor, Dartmoor National Park is a beacon of natural beauty and rugged landscapes. A visit to this wild and wonderful sweep of Devon rewards you with endless walking trails, ancient sites, and some of the best views in the county, giving you the chance to craft your perfect escape into the wilderness. From forest bathing to visiting the best local pubs, here are some memorable moments you can enjoy in all seasons.

Hike to the top of Haytor Rocks

People sat atop Haytor Rocks in Dartmoor

Dartmoor’s sprawling landscape is full of rocky tors, providing endless opportunities to pull on your well-loved walking boots and explore this breathtaking national park on foot. Enjoying one of the best panoramic views in Dartmoor, Haytor is the perfect destination for a hike, whether you’d like a there-and-back-again ramble or a stunning circular walk that takes you on a full tour of the fascinating surrounding area. Standing atop the prehistoric rock formations, you’ll find sweeping views across the moors and beyond - visiting after sundown will reward you with a sea of stars thanks to the park’s Dark Skies status. Bronze Age, Medieval and Industrial heritage sites pepper the landscape, while the neighbouring heights of Hound Tor provide an equally striking sight but with a literary background thrown in (having inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous book The Hounds of the Baskervilles).


Go wild swimming in the River Dart

A couple wild swimming in one of the pools at Newbridge in Dartmoor

Whether you’re after a refreshing plunge mid-walk or some morning mindfulness ahead of a day’s exploring, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the untouched nature of Dartmoor than a wonderfully wild swim. The unhurried waters of the River Dart provide many serene spots for a swim, from sweeping river bends to deep natural pools that beckon on a hot summer’s day. For those looking for an easy-to-reach wild swimming spot, the waters around New Bridge are ideal. Not only is there parking and public toilets, but the popular bridge and surrounding trees create a special backdrop to your dip.


Enjoy a pitstop at The Rugglestone Inn

Someone riding a horse down the lane past The Rugglestone Inn, which has flowers climbing up the front

One of our favourite traditional pubs in Devon, the wonderfully quaint (and totally dog-friendly) Rugglestone Inn is a must-visit for anyone looking for a cosy pub to settle into. Surrounded by beautiful moorland, the 200-year-old inn beckons to weary walkers, offering up a range of hearty dishes, refreshing tipples, and an open fire for the cooler months – there’s also a pretty pub garden (complete with chickens and ducks) for some sun-worshipping. Within walking distance of both the lofty heights of Haytor and our oh-so-peaceful Room With A View, this heavenly area is a walker’s paradise.


Discover the wildlife

A couple wildlife watching with binoculars at Haytor in Dartmoor

With a patchwork of moorland, bogs, heaths, and woods, Dartmoor is home to a wonderful variety of habitats, meaning its wildlife is just as diverse. You’ll find the usual suspects when exploring the raw natural beauty of the moors, from deer and ponies to buzzards, but you might also spot rarer species, such as the Marsh Fritillary butterfly and the blue ground beetle, which is only found in Dartmoor’s ancient woodlands. If you would like to learn more about the area’s fascinating flora and fauna, a visit to the Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary and Buckfast Butterfly Farm is a must.


Do a spot of nature journaling

Someone nature journaling by drawing flowers on a blanket

With such a diverse swathe of flora at your fingertips, there are many wonderful ways to record the different species you stumble across. While a camera allows you to capture snapshots along your adventure, we also love to slow things down with nature journaling; an opportunity to document the wonder of natural beauty before you. From sketching plants, to noting how they change throughout the day and seasons, this historic practice has been used for centuries to bring ourselves closer to the world around us.


Explore the many pretty towns and villages

A craft fair sign in front of a cosy pub in Widecombe-in-the-Moor

Dartmoor might be a beacon of natural beauty, but it’s also home to a scattering of historic towns and villages that add their own unique flush of charm to the area. The gateway to southern Dartmoor, Ashburton promises a tempting foodie vibe (with a lovely food festival filling the streets every September), alongside a web of antique shops and art galleries. A trip to Bovey Tracey is also a savoury must, as the delightful market town boasts a fortnightly farmers’ market where you can pick up an array of local goodies. Or, for an utterly picturesque visit, head to Widecombe-in-the-Moor or Lustleigh for a mix of historical buildings, pretty tearooms, and magical surrounds.


Slow things down with some forest bathing

Someone meditating in a forest

With a series of ancient woodlands peppering the rugged landscape, Dartmoor is an ideal place to practise the tranquil art of forest bathing. This soul-cleansing practice takes you back to your roots as you take a moment to connect with nature, easing both body and mind. Wistman’s Wood, a fairytale place full of moss, stone, and gnarled trees, is a particularly enchanting place to stop and absorb the world around you. The ancient oaks make for peaceful companions, while the rich green surroundings wrap you in a warm embrace.


Marvel at the beauty of Becky Falls

The pretty waterfall at Becky Falls in Dartmoor

Home of one of the most spectacular sights in Dartmoor, Becky Falls makes for a special family day out. The ancient woodland holds many winding walks under its luscious canopy, while the waterfall itself courses through the boulder-strewn valley with ease, especially after heavy rainfall. It’s easy to get swept up in the sense of fantasy that filters through the woodland, making it a great spot to explore with children. Animal lovers will adore the mini zoo that resides at the Falls, too. Home to a variety of creatures, from skunks and meerkats to ponies and tortoises, Becky Falls appeals to every kind of nature-lover.  


Forage through Dartmoor’s natural pantry

Someone holding up a handful of wild strawberries

Whether you’re visiting Dartmoor in the winter, spring, summer or autumn, this bountiful national park boasts plenty of foraging opportunities. Connecting you to the land through its natural fare and changing atmospheres, the enriching practice of living in tune with the seasons has been followed since the Bronze Age, creating a harmonious relationship between land and people. From chestnuts and blackberries to mushrooms, wild garlic, and honeysuckle, the flourishing natural larder across Dartmoor’s rich landscapes makes for a delicious and oh-so-nourishing addition to your stay.


Enjoy a walk through time at Castle Drogo

Ancient steps lined with flowers at Castle Drogo in Dartmoor

Overlooking Teign Gorge and inspired by Dartmoor’s weathered tors, Castle Drogo promises a dramatic step back in time. The last castle to be built in England, this 20th century marvel holds many fascinating secrets within its stone walls, including beautiful French tapestries and a series of family portraits. Outside, the intriguing castle gardens have been carved into the rolling landscape, creating a striking contrast between the rugged surrounding scenes and the carefully curated sights within. Children will love playing in Bunty House, a replica of the original playhouse, while horticulturists can follow wandering paths that wind through roses, rhododendrons, and aromatic herbs.


Celebrate local fare with Ullacombe Farm

Looking out over Ullacombe Farm shop, where outside tables enjoy views over Dartmoor

From an honesty box providing the freshest eggs around to the bustling farm shop and café it is today, Ullacombe Farm is all about local fare. The farm shop sells a variety of tempting treats, from creamy cheeses and refreshing ciders to west country fudge and doggie ice cream. If you’re feeling peckish during your visit, the quaint café offers a moreish menu full of hearty burgers and indulgent cream teas, all freshly prepared on-site. 


Stay in Dartmoor

The pretty shepherd's hut and garden at Room With A View in Dartmoor

Promising wild and wonderful walks through heath, moor, and wood, and a mesmerising mix of natural landmarks and historical sites, Dartmoor is a special destination full of unique things to do. With a selection of gorgeous Devon hideaways in and around Dartmoor to choose from, you can curate your dream glamping escape, from slow-moving mornings in a cabin to adventure-filled day exploring the surrounding moors.


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