Ancient woodlands, leafy riversides and open moors littered with the leavings of Bronze Age man - here are our top walks in Dartmoor National Park.
1. Easdon Tor
For a heady shot of invigorating country air and instant perspective on your surroundings, Easdon Tor, a rock-topped hill which is a 10-minute walk from Moorland View. At the top, there are 360-degree views of Dartmoor, wild horses and birds of prey.
2. Fingle Gorge
One of Dartmoor's most spectacular riverside walks, this two-hour round-trip follows a forested gorge from fairytale Castle Drogo to the traditional Fingle Bridge Inn, overlooking the river. In spring, the woodlands here are carpeted with bluebells and daffodils.
One of the most complete examples of the moor’s prehistoric settlements, Grimspound is a stone enclosure littered with the leavings of 24 Bronze Age roundhouses. The eerie setting inspired Sherlock Holmes' classic, the Hound of the Baskervilles.
4. North Bovey to Lustleigh
Strike out on this beautiful two-hour hike, taking in gorgeous views, a Roman fort and the magical woodland glen of Lustleigh Cleave, with its two-story high boulders. A thatched pub, The Cleave, awaits you at the end, with cream teas, delicious meals and real ales.
5. Wistmans’ Wood
A vestige of the prehistoric dwarf oak trees that used to cover Dartmoor, Wistman's Wood (pictured above) has occupied this lonely spot near Two Bridges for 6,000 years. The gnarly ancient oak trees rise from mossy boulders, and have branches festooned in ferns and lichen. The Two Bridges hotel is a traditional spot for a drink afterwards, but for a meal or a cream tea, or to avoid the coach parties, head to Princehall Hotel, a beautiful Georgian Manor House nearby with stunning views.
6. River Bovey
This flat, easy 20 minute walk from Moorland View to Bovey Castle traces the crystal-clear River Bovey, through wildflower woodlands and across stone bridges. Bovey Castle’s 250-acre estate has rose gardens, elegant lakes and well-kept lawns. Take your membership card for generous discounts on food, drink and spa treatments.
7. Hound Tor
The jumble of boulders that make up Hound Tor provides one of the most easily accessible and expansive viewpoints in Dartmoor. You'll see the rocky peaks of several other tors here and views of moorland villages, and just southeast of the tor are the remains of a medieval village.
8. Brent Tor
There are few places as romantic as the top of craggy Brent Tor, where the tiny parish church of The Church of St Michel de Rupe sits pretty and gives way to spectacular views. Surrounding the tor are Iron Age earthworks and the remnants of a hill fort.
9. The War Horse Trail
Spielberg's blockbuster was filmed on Dartmoor and you can follow the hiking trail through Ditsworthy, Sheepsworthy, Warren House, Ringmoor Down, Combestone Tor, Haytor, Bonehill, Hexworthy Bridge and Cadover Bridge. Visit Dartmoor has full details.
10. Black Tor Beare (Black-a-Tor Copse)
This Lord of the Rings-esque oak copse is one of Dartmoor’s most magical sights. The pristine air has nurtured dense mosses and lichens that cluster on the granite rocks and gnarled oak trees, and it provides an important breeding area for birds such as the upland-loving ring ouzel.
11. High Willhays
There’s a clue in the name: this is the highest point on Dartmoor. Take a stone to add to the cairn, and absorb the weeping views at this wild and windblown spot.
12. Lydford Gorge
Fern-fringed paths wind through the deepest gorge in the southwest, with sites along the way including the 30-metre Whitelady Waterfall and the swirling Devil’s Cauldron whirlpool. The caves and gullies of this wild place were a hangout for sheep-stealing bandits in the 17th century.
13. Lustleigh Cleave
From the tiny village of Lustleigh you can make a wonderful circular walk (5 miles) past trees, tors and tumbled boulders through this deep cleft on the Sticklepath Fault. Reward yourself with a drink under the oak beams of the 15th-century Cleave Hotel.