Dartmoor was one of the first National Parks to be designed in the late 50s. It is a unique place, a wonderful wild landscape where changes in the weather have a strong impact. When the mist is down the striking tors crowning the moorland hilltops can make it feel like an eerie place. Yet when the sun is out, its huge horizons and stunning views inspire a real sense of joy and freedom. Encompassing 368 square miles of rolling moorland, rocky rivers, bogs and deciduous forest this is the largest and wildest expanse of open country in southern England.
At its heart are gently curved hilltops, which rise to above 600m/1968ft in places, few of which are crossed by roads. It’s a popular spot but thanks to its vastness you can walk for hours without meeting another soul and only have the sounds of nature for company. And here you are in good company as its habitats and species are known to be internationally important. Around a third of the Park is designated as a Natura 2000 site under the European Habitats Directive 1994 and Dartmoor is the only place in Britain where you can find a number of rare species.
The sheer variety of wildlife is due to its unique climate and topography. The landscape here is dominated by granite, an igneous hard-wearing rock that not only forms the distinctive rock outcrops known as Tors but also dominates the surface of the high moorland as well as lying beneath it. The Tors were formed about 280 million years ago as the granite forming Dartmoor cooled down. There are over 160 tors, some climbing to nearly 1,500ft above sea level. They, the Dartmoor pony and vast, unkempt moorland are what characterise the place.
With over 730km of public rights of way and 47,000 hectares of open access land, Dartmoor National Park has something for everyone, from families short on time and energy to serious hikers keen to do a long distance route. There are a number of these in the Park – the Two Moors Way, Dartmoor Way, Taw Teign Link, Templer Way, Two Castles Trail and The West Devon Way. The Two Moor Way is a popular route that links the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks.
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