6 best places to visit on Dartmoor

A tree bent by the wind at Belstone Tor, Dartmoor

Dartmoor offers visitors a plethora of wonders to discover. - Credit: Neville Stanikk/VisitDevon

The untamed beauty and extraordinary geology of Dartmoor make it a top draw destination. JEREMY FLINT highlights 6 of its very best places to visit .

Dartmoor is a unique place of serene beauty and a magical destination to explore. Designated a national park in 1951, the large 368 square miles of untamed countryside is an impressive landscape of windswept tors, high hills, granite boulders and a vast open patchwork of moors.  

The moor offers visitors a plethora of wonders to discover. Whether you choose to see its well-known wonders or seek out its hidden corners, here are six of the most incredible locations worth visiting. 

Darkening blue skies over Hound Tor on Dartmoor.

Emsworthy Rocks provides one of the most amazing landscape vistas in the heart of Dartmoor. - Credit: Jeremy Flint Photography

1. Hound Tor 

One of my absolute favourite places to visit. A tor refers to “a land formation where free-standing rocks rise from the slopes of a rounded hill”. 

Said to have derived its name from weathered blocks on the summit assuming the form of dogs surveying the landscape, Hound Tor provides one of the most amazing landscape vistas in the heart of Dartmoor with several granite structures towering above.  

There are ample attractive boulders spread out across the moorland and hills beyond. Visiting here is relatively easy with a quarter of a mile stroll from the car park. 

View of Haytor Rocks on Dartmoor.

Haytor Rocks are one of the most striking sights you will see in the park. - Credit: Alex Graeme

2. Haytor Rocks 

Situated on the eastern edge of Dartmoor, the giant granite formations of Haytor Rocks are one of the most striking sights you will see in the park.  

As you enter the national park from the east on the B3387 you will catch your first glimpse of the iconic outcrop standing proud on the moor. Besides the views of the tor, you can even climb up onto the summit at Haytor Rocks for unparalleled views of the moors and the sea on clear days.  

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If you are feeling energetic you can do one of the best walks in Dartmoor from here, a circular seven-mile walk to Hound Tor and back where you may be lucky enough to see Dartmoor ponies wandering the moor, a frequent sight and the most famous of all Devon inhabitants. With wild Dartmoor ponies and birds of prey for company, what better way could you spend a day than walking on the moors with fresh air and stunning views. 

Bowermans Nose granite tor in Dartmoor with a rainbow behind it.

Bowerman’s Nose is a tall granite stack resembling a capped man or man with a large nose. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Bowerman’s Nose 

Dartmoor’s amazing scenery extends to Bowerman’s Nose, a tall granite stack resembling a capped man or man with a large nose. The stack is the stuff of legends and inspired a Huntsman named Bowerman, one of Dartmoor’s most well-known legends who lived out on the moor. According to folklore, the hunter disturbed a witch ceremony while chasing a hare with his dogs and was turned into the granite stack and his dogs into the scattered granite rocks on nearby Hound Tor. 

Moss covered rocks at Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor.

Wistman’s Woods is a densely packed woodland of twisted and entangled moss-covered oak trees and boulders. - Credit: Jeremy Flint Photography

4. Wistman’s Woods 

Dartmoor National Park is a great way to unwind in the great outdoors, especially whilst on an enchanting walk around Wistman’s Woods. This densely packed woodland of twisted and entangled moss-covered oak trees and boulders is simply amazing.  

You can visit here in all weathers and it looks equally as impressive on overcast days or when cloaked in mist as on a sunny day adding to the atmosphere and mystery the place exudes. The beauty of this ancient wood has provided inspiration for artists and photographers for years so be sure not to miss it. 

The church on top of Brent Tor, Dartmoor, Devon.

Crowned atop Brent Tor is the medieval parish church of St Michael de Rupe. - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. Brent Tor and the Church of St Michael 

On the western fringes of Dartmoor National Park, near Tavistock is one of the most iconic and spectacular landmarks you will find in the area.  

Crowned atop Brent Tor, the medieval parish church of St Michael de Rupe overlooking the Burn valley provides one of the most stunning views around. Situated 1,110 feet above sea level on an ancient, extinct, volcanic cone this ancient site also provides magnificent vistas from its churchyard in clear weather and is well worth a visit. 

A waterfall cascading down Lydford Gorge on Dartmoor.

The 30 metre-high Whitelady waterfall is formed by the River Burn plummeting into the Lydford Gorge. - Credit: Mel Peters

6. Lydford Gorge 

Nearby in Lydford is Lydford Gorge, the deepest and most attractive river gorge in the South West. Now run by the National Trust, this stunning location offers visitors enjoyable walks, wildlife and attractive scenery.  

The 30 metre-high Whitelady waterfall, formed by the River Burn plummeting into the gorge, is the star attraction. It is truly a stunning sight to behold where the waterfall and surrounding landscape of moss-covered rocks evokes a prehistoric scene and rainforest-like environment.   

Did you know?  

Many people will know Dartmoor is a beautiful area of outstanding natural beauty but are you aware of these thought-provoking facts about the moor? 

  1. Dartmoor National Park has 450 miles of public rights of way, equalling a walk from Land’s End to Penrith in Cumbria.  

  1. Dartmoor is the single, largest unbroken area of relative tranquillity in southern England.  

  1. It is the most important area for Bronze Age archaeology in Western Europe. 

  1. The granite on Dartmoor was formed 280 million years ago, thrusting upwards underneath Devon and Cornwall. 

Water flowing over rocks in a Dartmoor river.

The River Dart provides tranquil waters for you to enjoy. - Credit: Jeremy Flint Photography

Other points of interest 

Besides experiencing these stunning locations on Dartmoor in one of the last great wildernesses in the UK, other points of interest include: 

Rivers and reservoirs – the River Dart and the Burrator and Meldon reservoirs provide tranquil waters and surrounding woodlands for you to enjoy - a contrast to the open moor and rugged Dartmoor tors. 

Towns and villages – impressive places to visit include Okehampton and its fortified castle, Moretonhampstead and its pretty pubs, Lydford with its history and stunning cottages and Meavy, home to a beautiful church. 

Stone circles abound, such as Fernworthy, Grey Wethers and Merrivale.