Dartmoor, Devon

Dartmoor is a 368 square mile area of upland moorland in Devon, protected by National Park status. The moor takes its name from the River Dart, one of the several rivers that traverse the moor. Others include the Rivers Erme, Plym, Tavy and Teign. The granite rock in the area dates from the Carboniferous period and in areas the rock has been eroded to leave the 160 or so distinctive exposed granite hilltops, or tors.

Man has inhabited the area for many thousands of years. Dartmoor has a wealth of antiquities and has been the site of many important archeological finds. Most of the prehistoric remains found on Dartmoor date back to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Finds on Dartmoor make up the largest concentration of Bronze Age remains in the United Kingdom.

Although a National Park , some sections of Dartmoor are still used as a military firing range. The rest of Dartmoor affords the general public extensive rights of access and the region has become a very popular tourist destination. The highest points can be found at High Willhays, which reaches 2,040 feet and at Yes Tor which is 2,030 feet high.

The elevation, and the maritime influence due to the position of Dartmoor in the south western section art of England, means above average rainfall compared to the surrounding lowlands. The moors have a fearsome reputation and can catch out the unprepared or ill equipped walker. Water filled bogs and mires present very real danger. These granite pools get thickly covered with a build up of sphagnum moss and are known to the locals as ‘feather beds’ or ‘quakers’. The weather can quickly reduce visibility to virtually nil on the moors, adding to the dangers they can pose to the unwary visitor.

Dartmoor is a thinly populated and remote place and this is always good news for wildlife. The moor provides an important and rich habitat to a wide range of species both common and threatened. The value of the upland oak woods, the hay meadows, the bracken moors and the rivers, torrents, streams and ponds is immeasurable. It is these rich and varied landscapes that make Dartmoor so unique. An incredible mix of wildlife clings on to life in Dartmoor. The moor’s bird life includes warblers, buzzards, dunlin, golden plover and redstarts. Dartmoor is also home to buzzards, foxes, red grouse and roe deer. These all live among a great variety of lichens, insects, mosses and plants

More British Natural features?

Other Devon Naturals

Blackdown Hills
Jurassic Coast
Bristol Channel
Tamar Valley
River Exe
River Tamar
River Dart
Hartland Point
Slapton Sands
Salcombe Hill
Burgh Island
River Axe
East Lyn Valley
East Lyn River
River Taw
River Torridge
River Tavy
River Teign
River Sid

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