Dr Blackall's Drive Walk, Dartmeet, Dartmoor National Park

Dr Blackall's Drive Walk, Dartmeet, Dartmoor National Park

Walking above the River Dart in the Dart Gorge

Dartmoor National Park is fringed with gorges and steep-sided wooded valleys. These are some of the most beautiful places in the national park and Westcountry. In many cases, it's possible to walk along the lip of these gorges and valleys high above the rivers that cut them. Dr Blackall's Drive provides one such walk above the River Dart in the Dart Gorge.

At the bottom of this listing, we provide information on other similar walks.


How far is it and how long will it take?

The walk is roughly 10 km/6 m in length.

The Ordnance Survey app states that this takes about 3 hrs. We tend to cover a Dartmoor mile in 30 mins so would also plan for a 3 hrs trip.


What's the walking like?

Mostly flat and easy.

It's a bit of a slog to get from New Bridge to Dr Blackall's Drive but once you're up there it's easy walking.


Is there a path?

Yes. You're following the Two Moors Way and what is effectively a flat road that's known locally as Dr Blackall's Drive.


Is it well signposted?

It's reasonably well signposted but take a map and compass.


Dr Blackall and Dr Blackall's Drive

Spitchwick is an exceptionally popular area in Dartmoor National Park. Spitchwick Manor is nearby. Spitchwick Manor was once owned by Dr Blackall. At the end of the nineteenth century, Dr Blackall created a carriage drive along the northern lip of the Dart Gorge along which, presumably, a carriage was driven such that Dr Blackall and guests could enjoy the stunning views.

If you look at the Ordnance Survey app or Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map, you will see Spitchwick Manor near New Bridge and Poundsgate. The manor is just off the main Ashburton to Dartmeet road. One can imagine a carriage travelling from the manor down the road in the direction of New Bridge and then connecting with the newly created carriage drive. From there, the carriage moves up the northern lip of the gorge into the most impressive view. It comes to Mel Tor and then Bel Tor Corner where it connects once again with the road. The carriage then descends and passes Higher Uppacott to Spitchwick Manor.


Dr Blackall's Drive and the Two Moors Way

Today, we too can enjoy the views on Dr Blackall's Drive. This is a linear walk. It follows the Two Moors Way through this section of the national park. The views in both directions are incredible, especially in autumn with its copper and gold colours.

You can turn it into this much longer circular walk that we describe in our Dart Gorge Circular Walk listing but it's demanding. Clearly, there are other routes as well but this linear walk is a nice introduction to the area.


Start from New Bridge

Start from New Bridge. Follow the north bank of the River Dart under New Bridge into Spitchwick. The Two Moors Way runs through here, across a skinny road and climbs through woodland to Leigh Tor. From there, you cross another skinny road and follow a wide, grassy track up to Dr Blackall's Drive.

The views to South Devon and Buckland-in-the-Moor are superb.

The good, flattish drive takes you around a spur of land where the Dart Gorge opens up below you. It's a memorable sight. Bench Tor is across the valley. Mel Tor and Sharp Tor are beyond. In the distance, you'll see Combestone Tor below Dartmoor's high south plateau.


Mel Tor and Sharp Tor

Walk Dr Blackall's Drive to Mel Tor and then Sharp Tor. From the latter, you look back down the Dart Gorge in the direction from which you came. Dr Blackall's Drive is clearly visible. It's a nice place to have a picnic.

When you've finished with the view, head back on Dr Blackall's Drive. Note that when you get to the Leigh Tor area, you can descend directly to the New Bridge car park. As ever, we'd suggest you study the Ordnance Survey app or Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map for detail.


Other starting points

If you don't want to walk in from New Bridge, there are plenty of small, grassy parking areas up the road from New Bridge as it leads to Poundsgate. These are closer to Dr Blackall's Drive so you'd miss out the section around Spitchwick.

Note that you can walk in the other direction from the big grass car park at Bel Tor Corner or from the car park on the other side of Sharp Tor.


Other similar walks in Dartmoor National Park

The Hunter's Path along the northern lip of the Teign Gorge.

The northern lip of the Dewerstone Valley from Dewerstone to Cadover Bridge.

The northern lip of Tavy Cleave between Ger Tor and Tavy Cleave Tors.

The eastern lip of West Cleave near Belstone.

The northern lip of the Upper West Okement Valley above Black-a-Tor Copse National Nature Reserve.

The northern lip of Lustleigh Cleave between Sharpitor and Hunter's Tor.