Cranbrook Castle Hillfort, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

Cranbrook Castle Hillfort, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

The National Trust's Castle Drogo dominates the western end of the Teign Gorge. Move east through this exceptionally beautiful area of high gorge walls and steep-sided wooded valleys from the Teign Gorge into Fingle Woods and you'll be passing three other 'castles'. Dating from the Iron Age, these 'castles' are hillforts. On the ground, they consist of massive ramparts encircling large, open spaces. Chosen for their strategic importance, these 'castles' offer phenomenal views of the immediate area, high moors and Devon beyond.

Moving west to east from Castle Drogo, the hillforts are Cranbrook Castle, Prestonbury Castle and Wooston Castle. Each is clearly marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map. Cranbrook Castle and, as of early 2014, Wooston Castle are open to the public. Prestonbury Castle is on private land but visible from the upper gorge and valley walls.

We've positioned Cranbrook Castle on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location. As you zoom in on the satellite imagery, you'll see the ramparts and ditches south of the wooded Teign Gorge.

To visit for the first time, we'd recommend following the very steep forestry road that rises from Fingle Bridge and Fingle Bridge Inn. At the top of the road, where the land flattens out, you'll come to a waymarker that reads CRANBROOK CASTLE (IRON AGE RAMPART). Tracks cut through bracken to the earthworks.

If time's short and you don't fancy the strenuous walk, there's limited parking just off the skinny road that runs east of Easton on the A382 near Chagford. There's a compact, V-shaped parking area. You can see this on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map.

It's also great fun to walk in on the Deer Stalker Path from the Castle Drogo end of the Teign Gorge. From Castle Drogo, drop down to Iron Bridge and use the granite steps to climb over the chunky Whiddon Deer Park wall to follow the south bank of the Teign into the gorge. You come to a waymarker pointing you up the gorge wall via the Deer Stalker Path. This takes you to other waymarkers that direct you to Cranbrook Castle. On this route, you get a superb view of Prestonbury Castle.

As mentioned, the views from Cranbrook Castle are immense. Highlights are Castle Drogo and Dartmoor's north plateau.