Dartmoor Ponies at Widecombe in the Moor (Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/47910177@N02/4421624510/in/photolist-7JHYVm-7JHYVd-a1AJNm-a1AJMY-a1Awz3-az19GE-ayZYrw-ayZYro-ayZYs5-az19GA-sdUns-5YahX6-fTUz2S-52rHP8-71oXs3-9p8mTv-9p8ikr-9pbc87-dFJqz7-71jVQe-71oVSE-71oX3y-71oWy1-7YvdC2-4ZAhDF-a1Awzq-a1y19g-5oN9vj-5oN8Sw-5oHHpv-5oN4Cm-5oN48A-5oN7sL-9952PV-cVW8bA-cVWajo-cVWbkE-cVWdof-7dYLYX-cVW99j-cVWcg9-cVW68y-2VHgxB-2zbcTP-5oHNTe-5oN6j1-5oHN2B-seebS-7dYSm6-7e3DDG-5oN2QW)

Dartmoor Ponies at Widecombe in the Moor

Dartmoor National Park in Devon contains over 450 miles of public rights of way offering fantastic opportunities for walking, cycling, horse riding and climbing. At the time of the dinosaurs, Dartmoor and the whole of the South West Peninsula were submerged, only later to be pushed back up, with the top soft chalk surface of sea creature shells soon being eroded away to reveal the granite surface you see today. Dartmoor is a moorland of Tors, many of which are extremely dramatic such as Hound Tor or Brent Tor with church atop in West Dartmoor.

Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton

Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton

Exploring Dartmoor National Park

Marked paths include the Two Moors Way, the circular Dartmoor Way and for cyclists there's the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle route which pushes mostly through the east of the National Park. Visitors to Dartmoor should note that there is a 40 mile an hour (64 kilometre) speed limit throughout the park. The highest peak in Dartmoor, at 2,039ft is High Willhays to the North, with a scattering of other peaks around it. The southern section of the Park has low peaks with a more wild barren landscape. The best of Dartmoor's prehistoric sites are to the west of the National Park.

To the East is a more gentle Dartmoor, with pretty villages such as Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Dartmoor experiences rapid changes in weather patterns, so visitors need to generally take care and be prepared whilst moorland walking. Good maps, boots and protective clothing are highly recommended - find out more on the official National Park website. What makes Dartmoor particularly special is its open access to commons where walkers are permitted to roam off public rights of way.

The Dartmoor Ponies

Chosen as the logo for the National Park when it was first designated in 1951, The Dartmoor Ponies give this National Park its unique character and are integral to the cultural history of the park. Many visitors come to Dartmoor to see the ponies who have a generally gentle, friendly temperament. The Dartmoor Ponies are not wild, they are owned by local farmers who release them into the commons to graze annually, so they serve an important function in conservation grazing and preserving habitats. The Dartmoor Ponies are actually a mix of breeds with Shetland ponies also featuring alongside the native Dartmoor pony and pure-bred.

Lydford Castle & Saxon Town

Lydford Castle & Saxon Town

The Dartmoor Way & Two Moors Way

Two popular long-distance trails are in Dartmoor. The Dartmoor Way is a superb circular long-distance path winding around the outskirts of the park for 90 miles, taking the walker and cyclist through some of Dartmoor's most beautiful villages and fascinating sites. Easy to dip into and to undertake shorter stretches, The Dartmoor Way also features a separate route for cyclists. The trail passes through villages including Okehampton, Ashburton, Bovey Tracey, Manaton, Lydford and Princetown.

The Two Moors Way (Devon Coast to Coast) is 102 miles long and weaves its way through the centre of Dartmoor National Park, from Ivybridge up past Widecombe in the Moor, Drewsteignton and then onwards towards Exmoor National Park all the way to beautiful Lynmouth on the North coast of Devon.

Ger Tor near Peter Tavy in Dartmoor

Ger Tor near Peter Tavy in Dartmoor

Dartmoor Granite Tors

Tors are granite blocks and found in the upland heart of Dartmoor. Granite flowed as molten rock from the centre of the earth along the South West Peninsula some 280 million years ago. As it cooled it shrank, creating vertical and horizontal joints in solid rock. The exposed granite has been eroded over millions of years, and although one of the hardest rocks, granite is vulnerable to erosion from chemicals in rainwater. The weathering and re-freezing of ice also contributed to the formation of Tor granite structures such as Bowerman's Nose.

Dartmoor Visitor Centres

Main Dartmoor National Park visitor centres are at central Princetown and Postbridge, Haytor in the east between Widecombe and Bovey Tracey and you'll find ample information, maps and guides on Dartmoor at various tourist information points across towns and villages including Okehampton, Tavistock, Ashburton and Moretonhampstead. Admission to National Park centres is free and they make great starting points from which to begin your Dartmoor tour, featuring displays on the park's history, culture, wildlife and geological formation.

The Miniature Pony Centre Dartmoor near Mortonhampstead (Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/exfordy/2618100462/in/photolist-4ZhgNr-4Zhf6H-4ZhaKz-4ZhhCt-4Zmpu3-4Zha2D-4ZhcKM-4Zh9bT-4Zms49-4Zhdwp-4ZhfUe-4ZhBTC)

The Miniature Pony Centre Dartmoor near Mortonhampstead

Where to Stay

Dartmoor accommodation offers an extra special holiday or short break experience. Surrounded by spectacular rural scenery, Dartmoor's wide choice of holiday cottages, country house hotels, Grade Listed Manor houses, gourmet inns and warm, welcoming B&B accommodation have a charm all their own. Whether you're looking for that dog friendly cottage close to favourite moorland tor walks, a family farm holiday experience or a luxury country house hotel for that special romantic escape, find them all here in Britain's most famous moorland National Park.

Bustling market towns and villages on the outskirts such as Ivybridge, Tavistock, Yelverton, Bovey Tracy, Buckfastleigh and Okehampton are ideal gateways in, offering a wealth of accommodation options and amenities including tearooms, inns and quirky independent shops. Keen walkers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts will find an outstanding choice of secluded cottages and beautiful barn conversions right in the heart of Dartmoor around Postbridge. For that special luxury retreat choose a Dartmoor cottage or lodge with private hot tub.

Accommodation in Dartmoor National Park

  • Tavistock
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £209
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 4
     
    Special Offer
    CHRISTMAS for 2- 5 (+3) people from only £11.58pppn
    Well presented holiday cottage near Tavistock with galleried double bedroom, exposed stone work & beams, lawn garden & parking for two cars. Pets & horses by arrangement. Sleeps 4.
     
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  • Tavistock
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £780
    Per Week (Seasonal) Sleeps 4 + cot
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 159 reviews
    Rating from 159 reviews
    Multi award-winning railway cottage in Tavistock, a ticket hall conversion with original Victorian ticket windows. Platform patio & stunning Dartmoor views. Free WiFi & parking.
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    £145
    Per Week (Seasonal) Sleeps 6
     
    Two stylish caravans set on a 3.5 acre farm in East Cornwall. Perfectly located for touring Cornwall. Ideal for families and groups. Dogs and horses very welcome. Sleeps 6.
     
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    £30
    Per Person (B&B)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 219 reviews
    Rating from 219 reviews
    Grade II listed coach house B&B in Exeter, Devon, with lovely en-suite rooms and an on-site cafe. Outdoor games. Parking available. Dog-friendly accommodation.
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  • Tavistock
    Sleeps 5
    Prices from
    £286
    per week (seasonal)
     
    Special Offer
    Christmas week, 21st-28th Dec for 5+ people from £15pppn
    Delightful newly converted holiday cottage inside Dartmoor National Park. Dog friendly, horses also welcome. Families accepted, cots and high chairs for babies. Free Wi-Fi. Parking
     
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  • Prices from
    £33
    Per person B&B (2 sharing)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 34 reviews
    Rating from 34 reviews
    5 Star, award winning 16th Century farmhouse B&B near Tavistock. Stunning views of Dartmoor National Park, lovely garden, excellent cooked breakfasts & car parking. Family friendly
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  • Prices from
    £48
    Per Person Per Night B&B (2 sharing)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 357 reviews
    Rating from 357 reviews
    Luxury bed and breakfast hotel in Dartmoor only twelve miles from the coast. Well furnished en-suite rooms with wireless internet. Tea room. Restaurant and bar. Parking.
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  • Tavistock
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £780
    Per Week (Seasonal), Sleeps 4 + cot
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 159 reviews
    Rating from 159 reviews
    Unique Victorian station cottage conversion in Tavistock with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, free WiFi, parking, platform patio & stunning Dartmoor views. Champagne/flowers on request.
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  • Tavistock
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £278
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 6
     
    Special Offer
    CHRISTMAS for 2- 5 (+3) people from only £11.58pppn
    Characterful barn conversion cottage near Tavistock with 3 bedrooms, plenty of original features, wood burner stove & parking. Baby sitting by arrangement. Dog friendly. Sleeps 6.
     
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  • Prices from
    £235
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 6
     
    Hoseasons self catering caravans and cottage in a rural setting close to the town of Tavistock.
     
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    Holiday, Touring & Camping Park
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