Walking The Dartmoor Way: Book Review

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Dartmoor is perfect walking country. And what better way to explore it by following one of England’s long distance trails? A new guide from Cicerone, Walking the Dartmoor Way by Sue Viccars, gives all the information you need to plan your walk.

Why Walk The Dartmoor Way?

The Dartmoor Way is a 173 km (108 mile) hiking and cycling route that runs around the edge of the Dartmoor National Park. An additional High Moor Link runs across the moor from Tavistock to Buckfast, allowing walkers to complete one of two smaller circles (or to add some extra hiking if they want to see more of the area…) The route also links into several other paths, including the Two Moors Way and the West Devon Way.

Moorland with a horned bull and a signpost pointing to Moretonhampstead
A remote part of the Dartmoor Way (photo courtesy of Cicerone)

Whichever route you follow you will be guaranteed some excellent and varied walking, filled with wildlife, history (including a surprising amount of industrial heritage), and – of course – spectacular views. You’ll pass reservoirs and streams with stepping stones, open moorland and hidden villages. And some of the region’s major landmarks, such as Dartmoor Prison and Buckfast Abbey.

For some walkers an added bonus is that wild camping is permitted in some parts of Dartmoor (the only place in England where this is possible).

Detailed Walking Instructions

The book is divided into ten stages, and a further two sections for the High Moor Link. Each section includes practical information about transport, accommodation options, food and drink, and the distance and difficulty of each day’s walk. Then there are extracts from Ordnance Survey maps and detailed step-by-step walking instructions.

Pages from Walking the Dartmoor Way, with a photograph of an old market house and walking instructions, including "route in reverse"
The book has walking instructions, full colour photographs, and “route in reverse” details

Visibility on Dartmoor can sometimes be poor, and not all areas of the walk are fully waymarked. So the book provides alternative routes for those days when the open moor seems to be off limits. Another welcome feature is the provision of “route in reverse” instructions which mean that you can follow the path in either direction (a feature that is often missing from walking handbooks).

As with all Cicerone guides, gpx files are available to everyone who purchases Walking the Dartmoor Way. These enable you to follow the route on your mobile device.

Inspiration For Walkers

Dartmoor is a treat for walkers, with a vast amount to see as you go. As well as all the practical information this book is full of interesting details. There are information boxes about the main towns and about the places – both well known and more obscure – that you will see along the way.

You’ll learn about the atmospheric ruined church of Holy Trinity at Buckfastleigh, the granite outcrop of Haytor Rocks, and the hobby of letterboxing. There are literary connections and an old granite tramway. And naturally, because this is Dartmoor, there are a few folk tales and legends!

Part of ruined medieval church, with walls and arched windows but no roof
Atmospheric ruins of Holy Trinity Church at Buckfastleigh

The whole book is illustrated with full colour photographs. And the introduction and appendices give you background information about Dartmoor and all the resources and practical details you need to plan your walk. An indispensable guide for anyone who is contemplating a hike along the Dartmoor Way.

Walking the Dartmoor Way by Sue Viccars, Cicerone 2023, 9781786311153

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