Cranmere Pool, Okehampton, Dartmoor National Park

Cranmere Pool, Okehampton, Dartmoor National Park

There are a number of attractions that every Dartmoor enthusiast wants to visit. High Willhays is Dartmoor's highest point. Fur Tor is the National Park's, and southern England's, most remote location. Bowerman's Nose is its most distinctive rocky outcrop. Cranmere Pool is the site of Dartmoor's first letterbox.

It's a curious place. Situated by West Okement Head and close to Taw Head and East Dart Head, it's in a particularly boggy, rough cut section of Dartmoor's north moor. It looks as if someone has taken a shallow scoop out of the landscape and added the letterbox on the western side.

The views aren't particularly impressive. The landscape seems to have few features. Wet, stereotypically bleak, remote and a bit of an effort to get to, it's a magnificent place. Dartmoor's a rich and complex landscape. Cranmere Pool reflects one aspect of its character.

Because Cranmere Pool is situated in the centre of Dartmoor's north moor, you can walk to it from all directions. However, some routes are exceptionally difficult or even impossible after spells of bad weather. We describe potential routes below and outline possible problems.


Recommended route to Cranmere Pool for the first time

To visit for the first time, we'd recommend walking from one of the many car parking areas above Okehampton Camp. The British Army uses the area for training. Military roads rise to Dartmoor's north plateau. Whilst you can no longer drive these roads to the high ground, you can walk or cycle all the way up to Okement Hill. We'd suggest you park in the large parking area east of Rowtor and then follow the military road that skirts the west flank of East Mill Tor. It's a steady climb to Okement Hill. The road is good and the walking easy. From Okement Hill, continue to Ockerton Court. This is where it gets it bit boggy and difficult. Cranmere Pool is due south but the terrain is tussocky with pools of standing water. Instead, trend south west to the West Okement River and then follow the north bank up to Cranmere Pool. It's not too bad after a spell of dry weather. At other times, the tough terrain and boggy landscape is unavoidable if you want to visit the attraction. The letterbox is in a depression in the high moorland. It's surprisingly easy to miss so obsess about your map and compass.

There are variations on the above. For example, there's limited parking by East Okement Farm. You then take the military road that skirts the east flank of East Mill Tor up to Okement Hill. Another route from the north is to wander up to Dinger Tor and drop down to Kneeset Nose. You then follow the north bank of the West Okement River up to Cranmere Pool. 


Routes and directions to Cranmere Pool from the east

From the east. Many people walk to Cranmere Pool from Hangingstone Hill. You pass between Taw Head and East Dart Head so the terrain is nearly always boggy. After long spells of dry weather, even this part of the high moor dries out a bit but the terrain is still tussocky and awkward. You can walk to Hangingstone Hill on the military roads, from the Chagford area or Fernworthy Forest. We cover these routes in our Hangingstone Hill listing.


Routes and directions to Cranmere Pool from the west

From the west. There are some cool routes from the west. You can yomp the Upper West Okement Valley from Meldon Reservoir. After a spell of dry weather, the long route from the car parking area behind the Dartmoor Inn is great fun. You have to cross Amicombe Hill, Great Kneeset and Black Ridge. Only try this one when the moor is dried out. We've found this route impossible after bad weather.


Routes and directions to Cranmere Pool from the south

From the south. This is the most difficult approach. The stretch of moor that runs between Cut Hill and Black Hill and Cranmere Pool is rough cut and very boggy. You're more likely to see red grouse than people. You can walk to Cut Hill from Postbridge and Fernworthy Forest and we describe these routes in our Cut Hill listing.


When to visit?

Last, when to go? If you're visiting for the first time, we'd recommend walking after that spell of dry weather. It's a much easier and more pleasant walk. We've been up there dozens of times over the years and in the right conditions even the moor around the notoriously boggy East Dart Head is passable. That said, you'll still encounter boggy ground, tussocks, rough cut moorland and pools of water so take care.

If you are an experienced walker and have warm kit, try a winter walk to Cranmere Pool. The moorland freezes! Leave early as there's not much daylight and it can get seriously cold on the high stuff on dark evenings.