Fernworthy Reservoir Circular Walk, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

Fernworthy Reservoir Circular Walk, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

If you can make it to Dartmoor in autumn (say, October) then this is an especially beautiful walk. On a good day, autumnal leaves reflected in still water create a stunning effect. Bring a camera.

 

Start from the large car park on the edge of Fernworthy Forest

Follow the road from Chagford to Fernworthy Forest. You'll pass through an area of open moorland before you get to the forest. Park at the large car park on the edge of the forest by Fernworthy Reservoir. Several years ago a parking charge was introduced. There are public toilets and information boards in addition to the easily accessible Fernworthy Picnic Area. It gets busy in holiday months and at bank holiday weekends but you can usually find a place in which to park. You'll see the reservoir in front of you. Follow the path that runs anti-clockwise around the water.

When you start out, the path skirts the reservoir in the direction of the dam. In recent years, a path has been added just beyond the dam that zig-zags down to the valley floor. You get super views of the dam. It's possible to stand at the foot of the structure. From the valley floor, the path zig-zags back up to the other side of the dam.

You then follow the path around the far side of the reservoir from the car park. Stop to look at the Fernworthy Cairn Circle and Cist a few hundred metres from the dam where the path curves away from the main body of water. You cross a bridge and enter a section of land that's controlled for the introduction of rare butterflies. There's a wooden walkway that guides you through a boggy area. Be careful because it gets slippery when wet. You cross some fields and come to a parking area. This is in the heart of Fernworthy Forest at the end of the road that runs up from Chagford.

Follow the road and you'll come to a large, long building. Leave the road and pass Fernworthy Bird Hide. There are magnificent views from this area across the water. The path then follows the bank of the reservoir around to the car park.

The walk is a leisurely two hours. The terrain is gentle so it can be completed much more quickly. In summer months, after hot weather, the banks of the reservoir are exposed and one can cut off the path to walk them.

Note that you mustn't swim.

For a shorter walk from the car park try Fernworthy Reservoir Potter's Walk.