Walking On Dartmoor: Book Review

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With its varied countryside steeped in history and legend, and lots of opportunities to avoid the crowds, Dartmoor is perfect walking territory. A new guide from Cicerone – Walking on Dartmoor by Steve Davison – proves the point, with no fewer than 40 walks covering every corner of this beautiful region.

Why Walk On Dartmoor?

As the author reminds us, Dartmoor has a distinctive granite landscape with tors, rocky outcrops and moorland. But it also has reservoirs, waterfalls, and villages with ancient churches and thatched cottages. There are stone circles and clapper bridges, myths, legends, and ghosts. Then there is the amazingly diverse flora and fauna, including the famous Dartmoor ponies.

Two pages from Walking in Dartmoor. Each page has information about the walks and a colour photograph. One picture shows grass, bushes and trees, and the other shows a tall pile of rocks in a hilly landscape
The text is illustrated with colour photographs

Walkers are well catered for, with large areas of open access land where you can roam at will. Elsewhere you’ll find an extensive network of waymarked routes. These include two long distance trails: The Dartmoor Way and The Two Moors Way (covering Dartmoor and Exmoor).

Walks To Suit Everybody

The walks in this book are designed to cater for all types of walker. Some follow river valleys and low lying villages, and should be suitable for most people, whereas “the longer walks are designed for the more adventurous walker”. It ends with a two-day 10 Tors walk. This one is not for the faint-hearted: it was originally designed by the Army as “a physical and mental challenge, a test of endurance, teamwork and navigational skills”.

The routes are varied in their content as well as their difficulty. You might find yourself in windswept moorland or beside peacefully burbling streams. You may be so isolated that you could half-imagine yourself surrounded by ghosts, or you might end up in a cosy village pub or tearoom. But wherever you go there is history, from prehistoric monuments to medieval stone crosses, to the vestiges of industrial activity and mineral extraction.

Two pages of the book held open by a hand. One page has part of an Ordnance Survey map and the other has walking instructions and a photograph of a stream, trees and a house
The walks come with maps and clear instructions

One of the pleasures of the book is the snippets of information about the sights you’ll meet along the way. You’ll learn about rocks, and churches, and the forbidding Dartmoor Prison. Occasionally you come across something unexpected, like the remote spot where the 10 Commandments are carved onto flat granite stones.

How To Use Walking On Dartmoor

The introduction to Walking on Dartmoor covers the area’s natural environment and history. It also has a wealth of practical information including how to get around, waymarking, and equipment. The main section of the book has 40 walks, divided into four separate areas, with the two-day 10 Tors walk at the end.

Each walk has details of where to park, public transport (if available), and where to buy refreshments. There is also an indication of how difficult the walking is likely to be (some parts of Dartmoor are relatively flat; others are not).

The detailed walking instructions are easy to follow, with extracts from OS maps, and suggestions for diversions and shortcuts. Once you have purchased the book you can make life even easier by downloading gpx files that allow you to follow the route on your mobile device.

Whetting The Appetite

The walks are all illustrated with full colour illustrations, designed to whet the appetite. You can imagine yourself walking along bridleways or across bridges that have been in use for centuries. Crossing rivers on stepping stones, or taking in the views from the top of tall hills.

Having been to Dartmoor many times, I was pleased to see many of my favourite spots here. But there were lots of places that I didn’t recognise – unsurprising really because there is a vast amount to explore. Plenty of inspiration for the future!

Walking on Dartmoor by Steve Davison, Cicerone 2023, 9781786311085

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2 thoughts on “Walking On Dartmoor: Book Review”

  1. Hi Karen,

    Just wanted to say ‘Thank You’ for the review of latest Cicerone guidebook ‘Walking on Dartmoor’ – much appreciated.

    Best regards

    Steve

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I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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