Tarka Trail in Dartmoor, Dartmoor, Dartmoor National Park

Tarka Trail in Dartmoor, Dartmoor, Dartmoor National Park

The Tarka Trail, named after Henry Williamson's novel 'Tarka the Otter', is a circular 180 mile long distance footpath running from North Devon down to the fringe of North Dartmoor.

The team behind this website live in the north east and east sections of Dartmoor. We tend to describe routes starting from these sections of the National Park. As such, this listing outlines the Tarka Trail moving east to west.

The Tarka Trail enters Dartmoor National Park via a bridge that spans the A30 above the village South Tawton. When walking the trail, you see the distinctive tower of South Tawton St Andrew's Church ahead of you. The trail passes by the church and South Tawton Church House following a route across farmland to the edge of the village Sticklepath. It crosses the main road and continues on a track below Sticklepath.

You pass a footbridge that spans the River Taw taking you to a gate and signpost. Note that these signposts have the distinctive otter paw print showing the way.

The Tarka Trail follows the south bank of the River Taw through Skaigh Woods. It crosses the water at Skaigh Woods Tarka Bridge and follows the north bank to another footbridge near Ivy Tor. The trail once again crosses the river on this bridge to the south bank and climbs past Ivy Tor through Belstone Cleave to a footbridge below Belstone. It crosses the river again and climbs to Belstone Great Green.

The trail runs past Belstone Church and The Tors Inn and follows a moorland road up to Watchet Hill. It fringes the moor on an army track to the area by Nine Maidens Stone Circle.

Near Nine Maidens Stone Circle, it turns sharp north to the western lip of West Cleave on the edge of the East Okement Valley.

The trail crosses a footbridge and then runs down the west bank of the East Okement River. This section is stunning. You pass a waterfall, take steps down the side of the river, cross stepping stones and come to an open wooded area with a footbridge where Moor Brook meets the East Okement River. West Cleave Tor and East Hill Hillfort are high above.

The path then continues under the A30 where it leaves Dartmoor National Park and swings west at the foot of Ball Hill on its way to Okehampton.

Owing to there being a museum in Sticklepath and a museum in Okehampton, this stretch of the Tarka Trail covers most of the Two Museums Walk. About 6 miles long, it's an easy day walk. Clearly, it's slightly more demanding if you double back on yourself to return to your starting point.

You can also walk smaller sections of the trail. We'd recommend parking at Belstone and heading either east through Belstone Cleave or west to the area around the Nine Maidens Stone Circle.