Canonteign Falls, Bovey Tracey, Dartmoor National Park

Canonteign Falls, Bovey Tracey, Dartmoor National Park

[Main photo: the Labyrinth at Canonteign Falls]


Canonteign Falls is one of Dartmoor’s most popular family visitor attractions

Canonteign Falls is one of Dartmoor’s most popular family visitor attractions. Located on the eastern border of the national park near Bovey Tracey, it’s easily accessible from Exeter, The English Riviera and South Devon. Home to the highest waterfall in England, it’s a stunning place with beautiful woodland, lakes and sculptures. There’s a great cafe, shop and kids’ play areas on site.

They’ve expanded the attraction over the years and added lots of new things to do so you can easily spend a day enjoying the place.

If you live in the Westcountry, or visit regularly, we’d recommend buying an annual membership to see the country park change with the seasons through spring, summer and autumn. The wider area is packed with things to do as well.


Location of Canonteign Falls

The A38 Devon Expressway runs between Exeter and Plymouth. The English Riviera and South Devon’s famous coastline are east and south of the road. Dartmoor rises to the west. Canonteign Falls is in a great location by the A38 on the border of the national park close to the gateway town Bovey Tracey.

We’ve positioned Canonteign Falls on Google maps. Zoom in on the satellite setting to see its location.


Directions to, and parking at, Canonteign Falls

The B3193 runs along the north eastern border of Dartmoor National Park. Canonteign Falls is well signposted off this road.

If you’re coming from Exeter, you can follow the B3212 or A38 to connect with the B3193.

If you’re coming from The English Riviera, we’d suggest taking the A380 to Newton Abbot and the B3193.

If you’re coming from the southern section of South Devon or Plymouth, head for the A38 to connect with the B3193.

If you’re coming from Dartmoor, head for Bovey Tracey (via the A382 or B3387 for example) and the follow the B344 to connect with the B3193.

Note that there are numerous moorland lanes you can follow to get Canonteign Falls within the national park.

There’s plenty of parking on site. This is visible on Google satellite mapping.


Canonteign Falls

Canonteign Falls covers a large area. There’s plenty to do and see for all ages. The entrance is at the shop and cafe by the largest of the lakes on site which is called Lily Lake. Most people follow the path that skirts the right hand/north side of Lily Lake on its way to Lady Exmouth Falls which is the highest waterfall in England before descending to explore the rest of the country park. Highlights are outlined below. ‘They say’ refers to information provided by Canonteign Falls:

Start at Lily Lake. Take the path that skirts the right hand/north side of the lake towards the woodland that cloaks the high ground in front of you.

Up to your right, you’ll see children’s play areas. They say: ‘imaginative fun for all on our wooden galleon ‘Indefatigable’, named after the most famous ship captained by the 1st Viscount Exmouth. There are also two full-size trampolines, a climbing frame with slide and swings.’

There’s a picnic area here as well. They say: ‘bring your own picnic, or buy from our shop and cafe and enjoy your meal with a beautiful view of the Lily Lake.’

Follow the path and you come to Clampitt Falls. They say: ‘named after two brothers who, in the 1930s, were commissioned by the 8th Viscount Exmouth to build the dam over which the waters cascade.

From Clampitt Falls, there’s a gentle climb to a viewing point at Bruce’s Pond. Lady Exmouth Falls is visible through the ferns and trees high above you. It’s a great view.

The path ascends to the Secret Garden. They say: ‘this magical green glade is home to the stream of the original waterfall, which descends down the rocky crevasse of Devil’s Leap from the fern garden above. The dramatic steep rocky scenery made it a favourite spot for painters during the 19th century (including John White Abbott). Today it is a much favoured spot for photographers. Look out for the caves in the rock face on your left as you walk around towards the 90 Victorian Steps.’

There’s now a steady yomp up the 90 Victorian Steps to the upper section of the country park. Note that there are plenty of benches on which to rest. There are also lots of information boards along the trail.  They say: ‘these steps were uncovered and restored in the 1980s when the garden was first being restored.’

At the top of the steps, you’ll come to the Victorian Fern Garden. It’s an amazing place so make sure you follow the path that loops around the garden. Look out for Terence the T-Rex sculpture, fairies and the tiny doors to their homes in the trunks of the trees. They say: ‘currently undergoing an ambitious new growing programme, over 100 different fern varieties will be reintroduced here over the next couple of years. Our fern garden is also home to an ogre protecting the area from evil spirits whose face you can see in the rocks on the north side of the garden. Traditionally, ferns are also the birthplace of fairies. Our exquisite wire fairies are made by renowned wire sculptress Rachel Ducker (’

The path that loops around the Victorian Fern Garden leads you to Devil’s Leap Bridge. Cross the bridge and you’ll come to Lady Exmouth Falls. They say: ‘named in accordance with local folklore. This is the site of the natural falls - cross the bridge featuring beautiful examples of kiln fired glassware by Elaine Mason and start the final ascent to the Lady Exmouth Falls.’

Lady Exmouth Falls is the highest waterfall in England. There are top views from Buzzards’ View.

Buzzards’ View is a viewing platform at the top of Lady Exmouth Falls. You’ll see the leat, or channel, through which water flows at the top of the falls. They say: ‘from the top of Lady Exmouth Falls see as far afield as the white Haldon Belvedere Tower on your left to the cliffs of the old quarry towards Chudleigh on your right. The views, like those enjoyed by our buzzards and gosshawks, are breathtaking.’

You now descend through beautiful woodland past information boards and sculptures of hares and a giant spider to the far side of Lily Lake from where you started. There’s a Mini Assault Course Zip Wire here. They say: ‘fast action and challenging fun for 5-12 year olds.’

Apple Orchard and Bee Hives. They say: ‘the ancient apple orchard is home to several varieties of apples grown for centuries in the West Country including Tom Putt, Ashmead’s Kemel and Pitmaston Pineapple and used for cider-making, cooking or as dessert apples. Among these trees and throughout the estate we support 10 bee hives including the long African variety seen here. Honey from our hives is available for sale in our Gift Shop.’

Wander down past Swan Lake and The Green Ship children’s play area to the Labyrinth sculpture. They say: ‘our Canonteign Labyrinth is based upon life’s journey and we hope that you’ll find the quotes along the path interesting and thought-provoking.’

From the Labyrinth, wander across to Poet’s Corner under a giant oak. Read all the poems that circle the tree. They say: ‘stop and sit on our circular bench under the huge old oak tree and read our display of poems chosen for their relevance to Canonteign, aimed at young and old alike.’

Then head down to the Standing Stones all the way at the bottom of the country park. The views back up to the trees that cloak the high ground are stunning.

Continue on the path around the Lower Lakes and Wetlands and enjoy the beautiful reflections in the water. Again, you’ll find plenty of information boards and sculptures. They say: ‘as you walk through the wild flower meadow and the five inter-connecting lakes, look out for butterflies and blue dragonflies. If you are lucky, you may also see a kingfisher around the lakes.’

Return to the cafe and shop by the entrance.

Toilets. Note that there are toilets by the entrance, cafe and shop as well. These are located up the steps behind the ice cream kiosk.


Recommended walk at Canonteign Falls

Falls walk. Follow the main path that climbs to the top of Canonteign Falls and then drops down into the grounds and around Lily Lake.


Other walks at Canonteign Falls

Main lake walk. This is a short walk around Lily Lake from the entrance, cafe and shop. The lake provides great views of Lady Exmouth Falls and the surrounding woodland.

Lower lake walk. This takes you on a loop past the Labyrinth and Poet’s Corner to the Standing Stones before returning via the Lower Lakes and Wetlands.

Canonteign Falls is located in a stunning area of Dartmoor National Park. If you’re a keen walker we’d recommend exploring Canonteign Down/Netton Cleave and Barton Down/Birch Cleave Wood.

We’d also suggest you walk at Trenchford, Tottiford and Kennick reservoirs. Consult Ordnance Survey mapping for details. There are plenty of car parks marked on that mapping.


The views from Canonteign Falls

The view from the top of the falls. On a clear day, you’ll see South Devon countryside running from Haldon Forest Park down to the quarry at Chudleigh that’s popular with climbers.

The view up to the falls from Lily Lake is superb.

The view from the Standing Stones up to the woodland that cloaks the higher ground is wonderful as well. 

There are plenty of great photo opportunities at the many sculptures that are dotted around the country park. The Labyrinth and Poet’s Corner offer great photo opportunities. Look out for Terence the T-Rex up in the Victorian Fern Garden!


Places to eat and drink at Canonteign Falls

There’s a super cafe on site with indoor and outdoor seating.

Grab an ice cream from the kiosk by the seating area outside the main entrance.

You can also enjoy a picnic in the grounds. For example, as mentioned above, there’s a picnic area by Lily Lake.


Best times to visit Canonteign Falls

Canonteign Falls is open to the public in spring, summer and autumn. It’s great to experience the country park in different seasons.

Spring. Winters are long on Dartmoor. The national park tends to burst into life in May. The colours in that month are remarkable. Look out for bluebells in woodland around the 90 Victorian Steps.

Summer. This is the best time to spend a full day at Canonteign Falls. 

Autumn. Canonteign Falls is heavily wooded. The autumn colours here are wonderful.

Rain. Dartmoor’s many wooded valleys are great places to explore in the rain. The national park is home to large areas of temperate rainforest with rare lichens and mosses. These are particularly atmospheric in/after rain. Clearly, the waterfall is also more impressive when water levels are high.


The area around Canonteign Falls

We’d recommend exploring the area around Canonteign Falls:

Canonteign Down/Netton Cleave and Barton Down/Birch Cleave Wood. Canonteign Falls is on the edge of a much larger area of woodland and plantations. See Ordnance Survey mapping for local paths.

Trenchford, Tottiford and Kennick reservoirs. These three spectacular reservoirs are located near Canonteign Falls. Surrounded by trees, they’re particularly impressive in autumn when the colours turn.

Shaptor Wood/Shaptor Rock. Shaptor Wood is a wonderful, chaotic example of Dartmoor temperate rainforest. Topped by a tor, you can clamber up onto the granite stacks for amazing views of the eastern side of Dartmoor and the Wray Valley from Lustleigh up to Moretonhampstead.

House of Marbles. This is another popular visitor attraction in Bovey Tracey.

National Trust’s Parke/Home Farm Cafe and Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust. Located by the road that climbs to the famous Haytor Rocks, there are a number of super circular walks in this country park. Enjoy a cream tea at the cafe and meet the ponies.

East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve. Lustleigh Cleave, the Bovey Valley and Yarner Wood are cloaked in some of the most extraordinary temperate rainforest in England. Highly recommended.

Becky Falls. This is another popular family visitor attraction with waterfalls. It’s up the road from Yarner Wood near the pretty Dartmoor village Manaton.

Lustleigh Cleave. This is one of Dartmoor’s best heavily wooded, steep-sided valleys. The views from the broad ridge up top are remarkable.

The Teign Gorge. A second amazing valley within easy driving distance of Canonteign Falls. 

National Trust’s Castle Drogo sits on a headland that juts out above the mouth of the Teign Gorge. Essential Dartmoor visiting.


Other Dartmoor waterfalls

If waterfalls are your thing then also visit:

Becky Falls

Lydford Gorge White Lady Waterfall

East Dart River Waterfall

Venford Falls