Best Dartmoor Winter Things To Do, Dartmoor, Dartmoor National Park

Best Dartmoor Winter Things To Do, Dartmoor, Dartmoor National Park

Snow on Dartmoor

We've photographed snow on Dartmoor mostly between the months of December and March. Some years have seen very heavy snowfall. Others have been patchy. These are our favourite places to experience snow on Dartmoor. We've chosen places that are usually accessible even after a period of heavy snow. Most of the places are located on the fringe of the moor. Don't try to drive the roads crossing the high moor after heavy snow. Browse the images in our photo gallery to see snow on Dartmoor.

Belstone. This popular Dartmoor village is situated just off the A30 by the north border of the National Park. It's usually possible to drive to the large car park by the entrance to the village. You can then walk to the snowy north moor. Most people head for Belstone Tors. If the snow is very heavy then avoid Cosdon Beacon as the snow can be thigh deep on the upper slopes.

Teign Gorge by Chagford. This Dartmoor classic is stunning after snow. Walk in from the A382 by Dogmarsh Bridge if the skinny moorland roads to Castle Drogo and Fingle Bridge are unusable.

Haytor Rocks area. The B3387 climbs from Bovey Tracey to the Haytor Rocks area. Gets really busy after snow.

Pork Hill to Princetown area. The B3357 climbs from Tavistock to the Princetown area. The Staple Tors and Great Mis Tor are beautiful in snow.

High Willhays and Yes Tor. The highest ground on Dartmoor and southern England is superb in the snow. On foot, follow the army road that curls up to the broad ridge on which both summits sit. You can face arctic conditions up there with driving winds and very deep snow so this is an experience for hardened walkers/photographers.

We'd also recommend heading up to the Warren House Inn area once snow has melted on the roads. This pub is on the B3212 that cuts across the park. Head up to Birch Tor for huge views of snowy Dartmoor. Note that it can be impossible to access the Warren House Inn area after a heavy dumping of snow. In these conditions, park lower down along the B3212 and walk in. We've had to do this quite a few times over the years.

 

Winter walking

Winter is arguably the best time to experience Dartmoor's high moor. A low sun and clean winter light make walking on Dartmoor a treat. The hours are short and it can get exceptionally cold but winter offers the greatest variety of walking conditions. Check weather forecasts and sunset times on the BBC or Met Office websites.

If you are an inexperienced walker then stick to the fringes of the high moor. If you're experienced and are heading into the heart of the north or south plateaux then take all the usual safety kit. Take extra layers, head torches, spare gloves etc and tell people where you are going. It gets brutal but that's the attraction!

See our Best Dartmoor Walks listing for recommendations.

 

Prehistory

We'd recommend visiting as many prehistoric sites as you can whilst on holiday in Dartmoor National Park during the winter months. Again, a low sun and clean light illuminate standing stones, stone circles and stone rows. Dartmoor's remarkabke prehistoric sites are particulalry impressive at this time of year.

See our Best Dartmoor Prehistoric Sites listing for recommendations.

 

Pubs

After a bracing walk, head for a pub.

See our Best Dartmoor Pubs listing for recommendations. We list pubs by theme.

 

Christmas events

There are plenty of special Christmas events to enjoy. For example, try the Polar Express Train Ride at Okehampton's Dartmoor Railway or Santa by Steam on Buckfastleigh's South Devon Railway.

 

Shopping

There are also plenty of Christmas fairs and specialist shopping events. Buy local at the National Park Visitor Centres.

 

Wildlife

The ponies on Dartmoor are remarkable animals. See their thick winter coats.

Winter is also when you'll see starling clouds over Dartmoor. These used to be amazing up at Okehampton Camp but they've cleared away many of the trees in the area and so smaller clouds appear now.

 

Rivers and reservoirs

Dartmoor's many river valleys and reservoirs are particularly beautiful in winter light. Dartmoor's rivers are impressive after heavy rain. The noise in the heart of the Dart Gorge, for example, can be exhilerating.

See our Best Dartmoor Gorges and Valleys listing for recommendations.

 

*The UK-based Met Office provided the following info on winter. 'The meteorological calendar classifies winter as beginning in December and ending in February. In the astronomical calendar, winter starts on the winter solstice, which is around 22 December in the Northern Hemisphere.'