Fernworthy Forest, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

Fernworthy Forest, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

Over the years, we've met plenty of people who would put a day exploring Fernworthy Forest and Fernworthy Reservoir above any other experience in Dartmoor National Park. Whilst there are other forests and conifer plantations surrounding reservoirs in Dartmoor, none has the scale and presence of Fernworthy.

Fernworthy Forest is situated near Chagford on the edge of the high moors. We've positioned the forest on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location.


Easiest and recommended route to Fernworthy Forest for the first time

To visit for the first time, we'd recommend following the road up from Chagford to the car parking area on the eastern side of the forest by the reservoir. This car park is marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map. We've walked to the forest from every direction but the combination of forest, reservoir and prehistory around that car park are particularly intoxicating. Fernworthy Picnic Area is by this car park with awesome views across the water to the trees and Thornworthy Tor.

If you have a couple of hours to spare, walk around the reservoir. You drop below the dam, walk past prehistoric points of interest and huge forest views open up as you make your way around the water. The route is described in our Fernworthy Reservoir Circular Walk listing.

If time is short, try Fernworthy Reservoir Potter's Walk.

The Chagford road that runs up to this car park continues to the heart of the forest. At the end of the road is another, smaller car parking area that's by the west side of the reservoir. From there, it's fun to walk through the forest to the high moor. We'd recommend yomping up to Sittaford Tor before dropping down to The Grey Wethers Stone Circles and back to the forest. Note that next to this small parking area is Fernworthy Stone Circle. Refer to the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map for detail. The path leading out to the moors is clearly marked as are the stone circles.

There are plenty of other prehistoric sites in and around Fernworthy. In the forest, visit Fernworthy Cairn Circle and Cist and Fernworthy Assycombe Stone Row. Outside, we'd suggest you walk to Hurston Ridge/Chagford Common Stone Row and Shovel Down Stone Rows.

The forest is known for its diverse wildlife. If you're into birdwatching, try the Fernworthy Bird Hide. This looks out across a wildlife conservation zone.

Last, it's worth noting the history of the reservoir. Under its water and in its trees are old bridges and farms. First planted in 1921*, a clapper bridge can sometimes be seen in dry months. The water from the reservoir feeds into the South Teign River. This joins with the North Teign River to form the River Teign as it flows past Chagford to the Teign Gorge.

Other Dartmoor forests and plantations include Bellever Forest and Burrator Plantations.

Wooded valleys include the Teign Gorge (National Trust) and Dart Gorge.

Ancient woodlands include Wistman's Wood National Nature Reserve and Black-a-Tor Copse National Nature Reserve.

*This information was taken from an information board in the forest. 'The forest at Fernworthy is Dartmoor's largest, covering 576 hectares and was first planted in 1921 by the Duchy of Cornwall. Now managed by Forest Enterprise, these highly productive woodlands produce quality Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir and Japanese Larch.'