Fernworthy Reservoir Circular Walk, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

Fernworthy Reservoir Circular Walk, Chagford, Dartmoor National Park

Beautiful reservoir walk in the Chagford area of Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor is known for its moorland walks. We'd also recommend exploring its many wooded valleys and reservoirs. This walk follows a path that skirts Fernworthy Reservoir in the Chagford area of Dartmoor National Park. It's a stunning place.

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.


How far is the walk and how long will it take?

The walk is roughly 4 km/2.5 m in length.

The Ordnance Survey app states that this takes about 1 hr. We tend to cover a moorland mile in 30 mins so would plan for 1.15 hrs walking.


What's the walking like?

You're walking around a large reservoir. There's a sharp descent and ascent by the dam wall but apart from that it's flat and easy walking.

Note that there are some walkways and these get slippery in cold weather.


Is there a path?

Yes. Dartmoor doesn't really do paths but there's a good path skirting Fernworthy Reservoir.


Is it well signposted?

No but it's a very obvious path. As ever, we'd recommend studying the Ordnance Survey app, Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map or Harvey Mountain Map Dartmoor map for detail.

Take Ordnance Survey or Harvey Mountain Map mapping and a compass with you.


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.


Fernworthy Reservoir dam

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.


Dartmoor prehistory

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.

Cross the little 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.

Walk through the fields and you come to a parking area. This is in the heart of Fernworthy Forest at the end of the road that runs up from Chagford.


Fernworthy bird hide

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.


Water levels

In summer months, after hot weather, the banks of the reservoir are exposed and one can leave the path to walk them.

Note that you mustn't swim.


Fernworthy Reservoir Potter's Walk

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