Dartmoor National Park
The wild dramatic landscape of Dartmoor, its brooding mass dominating South Devon, is steeped in ancient history and romantic tales. It is the largest wilderness in southern England, rising to 620m at High Willhays, and provides a stark contrast to the mild southern coastal resorts. About half of Dartmoor's area comprises the inner moorland plateau, sliced in two by the river Dart, where wide, rolling, boggy upland is only broken by the dramatic and characteristic rocky Tors. The name 'Tor' comes from the Welsh twr meaning tower, and they certainly resemble surreal ruined ramparts. In the summer sun the vistas over purple and yellow heather and gorse are a delight to the eye; in autumn the russet browns and the eerie mists provoke a more sombre mood.
The outer perimeter of Dartmoor has a softer aspect with streams running through wooded valleys, ancient clapper bridges, winding lanes and farmland. Some of the grey stone farmhouses are medieval and there are a number of attractive villages including North Bovey, Drewsteignton and Throwleigh. Because of its isolation inner Dartmoor has protected and preserved many prehistoric sites including hut circles, standing stones, burial chambers and crosses. Many of these ancient structures will be passed when walking the moors, silent haunting reminders of the many human feet that have similarly passed by. Dartmoor is also famous for its wild ponies who are a delightful addition to the scene and who seem to cope admirably with the vagaries of the climate.
Haytor, with its two separate granite outcrops, is a popular walking destination with routes included in several of the guides listed in our bookshop. From the summit there are stunning views over the surrounding moorland, the South Devon coast and Teign estuary. Other worthy walking destinations include Houndtor, Meltor and Sheepstor.
The walker should approach Dartmoor well equipped because its height and proximity to the coast ensure swift changes in weather including sudden dense fogs. Navigating in such conditions without a compass is treacherous, particularly on the high moors where there are large areas of bog, identifiable by the bright green sphagnum moss which grows there. Never walk on the open moors of Dartmoor without an OS Explorer map (OL20) and a compass.
Postbridge is a small village located on the B3212 road almost in the centre of the National Park at an ancient clapper bridge crossing of the East Dart River. This is a remote area and to the north-west of the B3212 are high windswept moors devoid of any roads or human habitation, except for the military. The area around Postbridge was once a tin mining centre and there is also much evidence of prehistoric settlement to be seen.
A Walk Near Postbridge [SX 674809] OS Maps: Explorer™ OL28
This walk starts at the Warren House Inn, which is about 3 miles north-east of Postbridge. The walk offers a bit of everything; history, archaeology, legend and wild open moorland, with some spectacular views thrown in for good measure. Just north of the Inn at a parking area a track leaves the B3212 on the right, heading east and descending into a valley. After crossing the valley stream and a valley track continue eastwards climbing the southern flank of Birch Tor. The path then descends leading to Headland Warren Farm. On the right you will see a prehistoric stone avenue, many of which appear to be associated with a barrow or burial site. Continue past the farm and climb up to a lane and turn right. Shortly the lane will cross a stream and then you take a path on the left climbing up to the Bronze Age settlement of Grimspound. This is the best preserved ancient settlement on Dartmoor and is well worth exploring. Picking up the Two Moors Way path go north from Grimspound climbing Hookney Tor. From the top there are magnificent views which open up both in front of you to the north and behind you to the south. Keep following the Two Moors Way, climbing Birch Tor with glorious panoramic views to the right and then descend back to the B3212. Turn left to return to the Inn. About 4 miles.
Best Pub for this walk
Warren House, Nr. Postbridge Tel: 01822 880208 (Good Pub Guide)
This remote old tin-miners inn can be a welcome sight after a walk on the moors. The cosy bar has a fireplace at either end and one is said to have been kept continually alight since 1845; to keep the Devil away the story goes. The room is simply furnished with easy chairs and settles under a beamed ceiling. Bar food includes soup, sandwiches, filled baked potatoes, Ploughman's, lasagne and home-made steak and ale pie. There are picnic tables across the road where you can enjoy the moorland views.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Pub Walks in Dartmoor and South Devon' by Michael Bennie
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