Although I live 30 miles from Dartmoor I can see its tors and contours from my home. It is a ‘thin’ place of tenebrous enigma, which holds an enduring allure for me, somewhere we can walk alongside those who had their being aeons ago, sensing their past in our present. Deliciously shivery – and not just when the mists descend suddenly.

But it’s high summer now so hopefully the mist and damp won’t be bothering you and the ancient sites we visit on the walk won’t feel too spooky. Some of the route traverses open moorland so common sense must prevail (see note below), but you’re never far from a road – unlike some parts of the moor.

Pack your sense of exploration and adventure – it can be very rough underfoot. The views are magnificent and Dartmoor is somewhere we can still breathe deeply. Enjoy it.

Important note: The walk crosses open moorland where a compass is very useful. Please don’t rely on GPS as there is mostly no signal. Clear conditions are vital and the weather can change very suddenly.

Great British Life: Postbridge Stores is no longer a post office, but is a good source of snacksPostbridge Stores is no longer a post office, but is a good source of snacks


1. Cross the road from Postbridge Stores and walk towards the bridge. Just before you reach it join the bridleway signed to the right through a wooden gate. Follow the direction of the finger through the field. The East Dart River is about 30m over to your left, spanned by the road bridge. In front of this is the medieval clapper bridge, which appeared in Britain’s first-known road atlas of the seventeenth century and was probably a replacement for earlier stepping-stones, which made the crossing easier for pack ponies. The ‘clappers’ are the granite slabs that stretch between the upright piers.

Walk away from the buildings of Postbridge, alongside a low stone wall on the right. As this ends keep ahead across the grass to join a rising path that ascends very deep, rough steps through a scrubby area of trees. These steps are a significant clamber and ascend to a gate that enters the Devon Wildlife Trust’s (DWT) Bellever Moor and Meadows Nature Reserve.

Beyond the gate bear slightly left to follow the broad, well-trodden path, uphill across the moor – there is a car park visible over to the right and a tract of conifer woodland also to the right. Behind you are views back to the clapper bridge in the valley with the airy heights of Dartmoor looming beyond.

Follow the path, which gradually gets closer to the conifers on the right, and also draws closer to the road that runs alongside the trees – if you want to keep things easy you can cut across to join this road, but otherwise stay with the path until it brings you alongside the road.

Follow the road, or the path beside it, all the way to the hamlet of Bellever – there’s a tiny ruined building to the right of the road before you reach Bellever, part of a more recent past. Glowing gorse lights the way. Once in Bellever follow the road as it bears right and crosses a cattle grid. At the grassy triangle go right on a ‘no through road’.

Great British Life: Grassy tracks offer easy walking through areas of Bellever Forest, with good views of the surrounding moorland Grassy tracks offer easy walking through areas of Bellever Forest, with good views of the surrounding moorland

2. The walk soon passes the entrance to the youth hostel. Keep going, and in another 100m you reach an assortment of gates to either side. Keep straight ahead, passing through a gate and continuing on the rising path, the way becomes increasingly rough underfoot. The next gate bears the sign ‘Lych’, redolent of the old ways along which our predecessors carried their dead for burial…..

Immediately beyond this gate the path forks. Take the right-hand option, where a small post declares that you’re on the way to Bellever Tor; the conifer woodland of Bellever Forest, once part of the Duchy of Cornwall and one of the oldest plantations on Dartmoor, flanks the path to the left, with glimpses of a big view through gorse and dotted trees to your right.

The path passes a big black water tank over to the right and you’ll see a gate into further areas of DWT reserve (don’t be confused by the north-pointing arrow on the DWT map – its orientation is correct for its map, but not for the direction you’re facing!).

Great British Life: Small wooden posts mark the path to Bellever TorSmall wooden posts mark the path to Bellever Tor

3. The path swings left from here – stay with it and within 100m cross a broad stony track and keep going, still climbing and passing another Bellever Tor post. Remember to glance behind occasionally – the views are good there too.

4. In 300m you reach another stony crossing track and at this junction there is an option.

If you wish to walk up Bellever Tor, extending the walk by at least a mile (it is worth it!), take the second path going left, where another Bellever Tor post shows the way. As the trees beside the path diminish the tor is clearly visible, looming ahead. Climb it, explore it, and then return to the junction at point 4 above.

Great British Life: The path up Bellever Tor, for those who wish to extend the walkThe path up Bellever Tor, for those who wish to extend the walk

To continue the walk, turn left at the junction if you’re coming down from the tor, or keep straight ahead at the junction if you’re not visiting the tor. You’re now following a broad grassy path between conifers. In about 100m the trees end and you find yourself in an open area of moorland.

5. Look for a grassy path on the right, about 25m from the end of the conifers. Take this, heading north along the path across open moorland, with conifers a little way over to your right. A glance at the map shows that this is an area bristling with antiquity.

Great British Life: Viewed from the west end, the cairn circle and cist, a prehistoric burial site, which we visit on the walkViewed from the west end, the cairn circle and cist, a prehistoric burial site, which we visit on the walk 6. In 350m keep your eyes peeled for a path heading right (grid ref: SX 64436 77612) that leads, in just a few metres, to what is shown on the map as ‘cairn circle and cist’. This is the site of a prehistoric burial from a time when our ancestors weren’t buried in collective graveyards, but instead became part of the landscape – green burials in the truest sense. A ‘history hunters’ post is nearby, marking a designated route for those on the trail of such sites. Ponder what has gone before. How would we explain the internet and wireless connections to the person who was interred in that grave, someone whose life, millennia BCE, was entirely entwined with Nature and the seasons? Human lives have changed immeasurably, incomprehensibly.

Return to your north-heading path and continue as before, but after just a couple of metres look for the low stone row to the west of this path – more evidence of times past on the open moorland.

Great British Life: Kraps Ring, the Bronze Age settlement near the end of the walk, stones edging the perimeterKraps Ring, the Bronze Age settlement near the end of the walk, stones edging the perimeter

Keep heading generally north on the path with huge views ahead, and in another 500m you arrive at the broad circle of low stones that mark the startlingly named Kraps Ring, a Bronze Age settlement, sitting within the surrounding conifers. The visibility of the stones is dependent on the height of the vegetation. The path keeps to the east side of the settlement; follow the stones round for 100m, and, at the north-east corner of the ring, look for the path heading right (east-north-east) into the trees (grid ref: SX 64486 78183).

Great British Life: Find a path through the trees alongside the firebreakFind a path through the trees alongside the firebreak

7. This is actually a firebreak rather than a footpath, but it serves pretty well as long as you watch your step – it’s easier underfoot if you walk within the margin of the left-hand trees alongside the firebreak, though you may need to duck and weave a bit (this is where you must remember the note about packing your sense of adventure!).

Walk alongside the firebreak, relishing the smell of pine, for 200m, at which point you reach a stony track. Turn left down this, and follow it all the way down to the car park beside the road in Postbridge. Welcome back to modern-day Dartmoor.



START POINT: Postbridge Stores: postcode: PL20 6TH; grid ref: SX 647788.

PARKING: There are car parks on both sides of the B3212 on the outskirts of the village – the Dartmoor National Park (DNP) car park is pay & display – the money helps care for the moor

MAP: OS Explorer OL 28 Dartmoor, 1:25 000

DISTANCE: 3½ miles / 4½+ if you climb Bellever Tor

TERRAIN: Open moorland, tracks, quiet lanes. Very rough underfoot at times and potentially muddy

IMPORTANT NOTE: The walk crosses open moorland where a compass is useful. Please don’t rely on GPS as there is mostly no signal. Clear conditions are necessary

EXERTION: Moderate; if you climb the tor, it will be more strenuous

DOG DATA: Animals grazing; the walk touches the road at start and finish, with a quiet lane into Bellever hamlet

REFRESHMENTS: Postbridge Stores (PL20 6TH) serves a good range of takeaway drinks and snacks; East Dart Inn, Postbridge, PL20 6TJ (01822 880213)

TOILETS: in DNP car park

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Buses from Yelverton and Tavistock pass through the village

Look out for:

Dartmoor ponies

Stone circles and other antiquities

Huge moorland views

Great British Life: Circular Walks in the South HamsCircular Walks in the South Hams

Simone is author of several books including Circular Walks in the South Hams.

During 2023 Simone is walking 1000 miles to raise funds for the Devon Wildlife Trust. If you’d like to help support this charity and the Big Walk, please visit: