With 47,000 hectares of public access land, Dartmoor has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts, and is featured in a new book of walks produced by University of Plymouth students, staff and partners.
Moor to Sea without the Car includes Dartmoor walks illustrated with paintings, photographs, poetry and maps.
BA (Hons) Marketing student Heather Harding shares her insight into ‘letterboxing’, the 19th-century version of geocaching, which began at Cranmere Pool on north Dartmoor, whilst BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing student Hannah Stamp depicts the bleakness of the Princetown circular route: “The cruel moorland winds blow through, blanketing the hills, the hones, the tors, and the chug of the old abandoned railway.”
The book also gives plenty of safety information, a guide to essential kit (for example, OS map, compass and boots) as well as a difficulty and experience grading for each walk.
If you’re not ready for Dartmoor, you can always start with one of the circuits closer to home such as Royal William Yard or from Cremyll to Mount Edgcumbe.
2. Wild camping
Finding solitude on Dartmoor can be a welcome break after weeks of socials, seminars and packed lecture halls. Biomedical Science graduate Andy Dent recalls a night he camped on the Two Moors Way.
“The morning seemed to come like the flick of a light switch, my tent instantly illuminated by sunlight.
I was greeted by my first proper view from the ridge. The fog and fading light which had masked its beauty the night before were replaced by clear air and blue skies.”
Andy first visited Dartmoor at the age of 15 with the Scouts, and when he returned to Plymouth to do his degree, he couldn’t wait to get back out there with a friend who’d been on the same Scout trip with him.
“To me Dartmoor is a special place because it can provide a feeling of remoteness without having to travel for miles into the depths of Wales or the Scottish Highlands,” says Andy. “Although often described as ‘bleak’ it has many changing colours and hardy fauna and flora that flourish there.
“If you want to get started on Dartmoor, just go for it, but don’t be complacent about safety. Find someone more experienced to go with or join the Adventure and Expo club. Take plenty of food and a flask of tea to pick yourself up, and have a few ‘escape plans’ so that if it stops being fun you can cut your trip short.”
Camping for one or two nights on Dartmoor is fine as long as you don’t pitch your tent on farmland, enclosed moorland, flood plains or archaeological sites.
Find a map of camping areas at www.dartmoor.gov.uk
3. Mountain biking
“Plymouth and the surrounding area boasts some of the UK’s best riding”, says Tim Blackman of the University’s cycling club. “Just 30 minutes of riding from campus and you’re into Dartmoor, where there’s an endless amount of track waiting to be discovered.” If you don’t have your own bike you can hire one from Rockets and Rascals, run by former University of Plymouth student, Steve Toze.
“Plymouth is great for cycling,” says Steve. “You can ride traffic-free along National Cycle Route 27 to Dartmoor.”
The multi-user trail is signposted, and there’s a 5km off-road loop en-route known as the Plym Ridge ride.
Find cycling maps: www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/route/dartmoor-way