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Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park

At first glance, Dartmoor can come as something of a shock to the senses. The largest stretch of open moorland in the southwest, Dartmoor covers an area of 368 sq miles between Plymouth and Exeter. It's a stark, wild and bleakly beautiful place, dotted with granite-topped hills, marshy bogs and patches of purple heather, as well as many weirdly shaped tors.

Dartmoor's landscape and weather can make it an extremely eerie place, the perfect setting for Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes tale The Hound of the Baskervilles. With its forbidding landscape and scattered prehistoric remains, this is magnificent walking country, but bring a good map: it's easy to get lost, particularly when the mist rolls in. Be aware that three separate sections of Dartmoor are leased to the Ministry of Defence and are closed for firing practice for part of the year. The ranges are marked on Ordnance Survey (OS) maps; you can check whether the route you want to walk is affected via the Firing Information Service.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Dartmoor National Park attractions

1. Higher Moorland Visitor Centre

0.07 MILES

At the tourist office–visitor centre, heritage displays include those on tin workings, gunpowder factories, ecology and legends – there's also a stunning…

2. Dartmoor Prison Museum

0.54 MILES

In the early 1800s, Princetown's infamous jail was home to French and American prisoners of war. It became a convict jail in 1850, and today still houses…

3. Merrivale Stone Rows

2.47 MILES

These two parallel stone rows are up to 260m long, with large stone slabs, or 'terminal stones' at the eastern end. In the centre, hunt out the circular…

4. Wistman's Wood

2.48 MILES

Legends swirl around this spooky patch of old-growth oak forest. According to local legend, it was a sacred site for the Druids, who conducted magical…

5. Grey Wethers

6.63 MILES

At this remote site near Chagford, stone circles stand side by side on a stretch of open moor; another stone circle is 400m away near Fernworthy.

6. Garden House

6.76 MILES

The enchanting blend of landscapes here make this garden one of the best in Devon. Its 3 hectares encompass wildflower meadows and South African planting,…

7. Tavistock Museum

6.81 MILES

Remnants from Tavistock's now vanished abbey sit in this traditional but excellent museum alongside artefacts of the town's copper-mining heyday. Look out…

8. Buckland Abbey

7.62 MILES

Founded as a Cistercian monastery and abbey-church in the 13th century, Buckland Abbey was one of Henry VIII’s ‘acquisitions’ during the Dissolution of…