Dartmoor planning

OK, let’s get back on track. James’s Dartmoor jaunt has inspired me to have a look at Dartmoor for my next trip. The last time I was on Dartmoor was on a geography field trip when I was at university, a looong time ago. I’ve been a bit lazy going to the Lakes a lot over the past year. The Lakes takes next to no planning. Dartmoor on the other hand is taking a bit of time to research.

Firstly, I have to consider whether to drive or go by train. Driving brings flexibility, but where to park the car safely is a bit of a concern. I’m looking to take a train this time, I think. It means I can do a linear walk from Ivybridge in the south to Okehampton in the north. A midday train from London can get me to Ivybridge (with one change) by 15.18, which seems quite fast.

The return journey is not quite so straightforward as I’ll have to get a bus from Okehampton to Exeter. The National Rail app on my iPhone indicates a frequent service but I’ve got find a definitive timetable somewhere on the web.

I’m looking at walking up the eastern side of Dartmoor keeping mainly to access land. I now have three sets of maps to consult, OS 1:50,000, OS 1:25,000 and Harvey’s BMC 1:40,000. Each shows a slightly different set of paths, however, on the high moor, I imagine I’ll just be able to walk in a straight(ish) line. I’m going to avoid obvious boggy hollows where I can.

While wild camping is allowed on a lot of Dartmoor, it’s not permitted everywhere. There are some basic maps and an interactive tool on the NP website (I’ll do a separate post on resources that I’ve found/used). Basically, most of the south and the north moor is OK, but the central bit from Princetown to Dartmeet is sparse, so it’s worth checking. I’ll put my exact route on another post when I’ve firmed it up.

I was concerned about the Army firing ranges on the north moor, but the information on live firing is readily available and there shouldn’t be any on the Okehampton range at the beginning of April, when I’m planning to go. I’m only going to skirt the eastern edge anyway.

I bought the Cicerone guide “Walking on Dartmoor” by John Earle, but, quite frankly I’ve found it a bit disappointing. The background stuff is reasonably informative, but the walks are mainly day walks. There’s no master map of where all the walks are and the descriptions of the long distance walks are cursory or just a list of places.

In terms of gear, I’m hoping to take my Duomid. Sean at OookWorks is making a bespoke inner for me and hopes to have it ready soon. It will be slightly larger than the floor area of the Scarp 1 (same width, but slightly longer) and weigh about 500g. With pegs and pole extender, the Duomid will be about 1.1kg. It should be palatial!

I’ll see what the weather forecast is before I leave but I’m inclined to take my Pipedream 600 after being cold in the Lakes. I must be getting old as I seem to be sleeping cold now. I’ll probably take my ULA Ohm pack, assuming that I can fit everything in, but that will depend on how much space my sleeping bag takes up.

The “extras” that I will take compared with a Lakes trip are gaiters and my lightweight waders for stream crossings. The waders weigh less than 300g, but they a very useful for stream crossings so it seems sensible to take them as whatever route I take will require some river crossings.

I’ll post some updates as I firm things up.



19 thoughts on “Dartmoor planning”

  1. Robin,

    I’d take that map on the NP site with a pinch of salt. Many of the areas that are now apparently out of bounds for camping I had camped on before crow! The large tract from Lee Moor owned by the NT west of Ivybridge and the area around Venford Resr being two examples. The same is true of the entire Holne/Hexworthy/Dartmeet region. This area is a bit more farmed and inhabited though. I wouldn’t suggest breaking the law, but just apply the old rules and camp out of sight over 100m from a road and you will be fine. Hope you have fun.

    1. Thanks Wurz. The Lee Moor finger of land excluded from wild camping looked odd. I saw that it is NT and was think of writing to them to suggest that it is rather against the spirit of the NP wild camping arrangements for that land to be excluded. The NT are unecessarily sniffy over genuine wild campers. I guessed that pitching late, leaving early and being out of sight would work. As it happens I’ve found somewhere in the middle to pitch “legally”.

  2. Robin, If you want to email me roughly where your looking at pitching I might be able to suggest possible alternatives in the area. Though one of the plus points to Dartmoor is there are loads of places you can usually find that are great to camp at all over the moor.

    1. Thanks for the link, that’s very useful. On trains, the link to Ivybridge is the issue. Some change at Newton Abbot, some at Plymouth. Newton Abbot saves a lot of time. There’s better flexibility going from Okehampton by bus to Exeter as the train service from Exeter is hourly(ish). If I’m delayed, it’s slightly quicker to get to somewhere I can camp from Ivybridge.

  3. I woud not worry too much about leaving your car parked up Left mine at Postbridge and Alan Sloman left his Merc for three days when we did a walk there.

    A south to north walk is fantastic and highly recommended. As Wurz says camp 100m from the road and out of sight. So many good pitches on the moor deep init you’ll be spoilt. I cant see the point of the waders. I have never found river crossings a problem there. One thing of note the south moor is very boggy in places and the Cicerone guide is rubbish.

    Dartmoor is a must visit each year for me. I never bothered with it till I did a bloggers meet there. Been back each year since.

  4. Don’t forget a compass Robin, it may come in handy if you are as unlucky with the weather as I was! With regards to wild camping you will be tripping over some lovely spots.

  5. After my grand Dartmoor backpack of last year, I was thinking of another fling this year before the Ten Tors mob arrive. It has a character of its own, it’s only the travelling that’s a bit offputting.
    I bought the Cicerone book years ago, and I agree that it’s good for supplemental information but infuriating when trying to use it to plan a long walk. It doesn’t really get to grips with the vast wilderness of the heartland at all, which is the best aspect of the area, it poodles about on the periphery as if afraid to delve too deeply. Still, I guess more people are interested in easy short walks from the car.
    I never even thought of looking at the ‘official’ camping zones, I just treat the area like any other.

  6. Western Greyhound do a good bus service between Okehampton and Exeter if you miss the train. Don’t buy a pasty from Okehampton station mind.

    I’ve done a few N-S walks. I mainly take the 2 Moors Way from Ivybridge or start from South Brent/Avon Dam way and go via Ducks Pool and take the Peat Pass to Childe’s Tomb and head to Postbridge/Princetown from there. There are very few paths on the N moor bar the military roads so there are more options…though some parts are incredibly boggy… dry feet are more or less impossible. Tons of wild camping options…

  7. If you’re going through the middle, highly recommend The Warren Inn (on the road heading East from Postbridge) for a hot meal. One of our favourite haunts when we’re out walking. It’s near an ancient settlement site that’s worth a look too although the name escapes me this minute.

  8. That’ll be Grimspound at the N end of Hameldown.

    Now if you want to do a point to point of pubs you’ve got to take in the http://www.rugglestoneinn.co.uk/index.html at 720766! Just follow the 2 moors way, drop off right for lunch then come back through Grimspound to the WHI for dinner. 🙂
    To tell you the truth I don’t massively rate the WHI, it’s ok but there are some much better places.

    Now if your going near Lydford or Chagford…

  9. whichever way you go, if you want a cheapish overnight stop, try the Forest Inn, Hexworthy, saves carrying extra kit. Enjoy Dartmoor, enjoy Devon, open your eyes, you be in eaven.

  10. well I highly recommend the Warren House Inn. Plus you will be safe in the knowledge that they will be open, serving food, warm and friendly, perfect….

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