Covering an area of 368 sq miles (954 sq km), Dartmoor contains the largest and wildest area of open country in the south of England. By virtue of its outstanding natural beauty it is one of the National Parks of England and Wales. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949, made provision for the designation of National Parks in England and Wales. Between 1951 and 1957 ten National Parks were confirmed. In 1989 another area, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, was given National Park status. In 1999 the Government announced that two new National Parks in England are to be created (South Downs and the New Forest).
Unlike many National Parks in other countries, for example the USA, the National Parks in England and Wales are not owned by the state. The term National means that they have been identified as being of importance to our national heritage and as such are worthy of special protection and attention. Within each National Park there are many landowners, including public bodies and private individuals. National Parks are places where people live and work. The statutory purposes of the National Parks as stated in the Environment Act, 1995 are:
- to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Parks.
- to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Parks by the public.
|The National Park Authorities also have a duty to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the National Parks.|
|Highest pt.||High Willhays 621m (2,039ft)|
|asl SX 579 893|
|Lowest pt.||Doghole Bridge 30m (98ft)|
|asl SX 843 817|
|Land over||150m (492ft) - 81% of the|
|Land over||300m (984ft) - 51% of the|
|Land over||460m (1,509ft)13% of the|
Principal Rivers & Valleys
A large part of Dartmoor (65%) is made up of granite, an igneous rock which was intruded some 295 million years ago.
This great granite core is surrounded by sedimentary rocks including limestones, shales and sandstones belonging to the Carboniferous and Devonian periods. Those nearest the granite intrusion were altered (metamorphosed) by intense heat and pressure and chemical reactions.
There are over 160 tors on Dartmoor. The principal ones are:
|Tor||Height above sea level||Grid Reference|
|High Willhays||621m (2,039ft)||SX 580 892|
|Yes Tor||619m (2,030ft)||SX 581 901|
|Great Links Tor||586m (1,924ft)||SX 551 867|
|Fur Tor||572m (1,876ft)||SX 588 830|
|Great Mis Tor||539m (1,768ft)||SX 562 770|
|Great Staple Tor||455m (1,493ft)||SX 542 760|
|Haytor||454m (1,490ft)||SX 757 770|
|Hound Tor||448m (1,469ft)||SX 743 790|
|Sharpitor||402m (1,320ft)||SX 559 703|
|Sheeps Tor||320m (1,050ft)||SX 565 683|
|Vixen Tor||320m (1,050ft)||SX 542 742|
The climate of Dartmoor, dominated by the south-westerly winds, is cool and wet. The high moorlands of the north west and southern central areas where the altitude exceeds 450m (1,500ft) have the most severe climatic conditions.
|Rainfall||Princetown - 2150mm (83in) average|
|Rainfall||Widecombe-in-the-Moor - 1581mm (61in) average|
|Snow lie||Lowland - fewer than 5 days per annum|
|Snow lie||Highland - average 15 - 20 days|
|Snow lie||Summits - average 30 days|
|Sunshine||3-4 hours daily average|
The main settlements in the National Park are: Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Moretonhampstead, Princetown, Yelverton, Horrabridge, South Brent, Christow and Chagford.
Total population of the National Park: about 33,000
Population of Ashburton (largest settlement) about 3,500.
Major Land Use
|% of total National Park|
|Moorland (including rough grazing)||48,450 hectares|
|Other (inc villages)||2577 hectares|
|Common Land||approx 34,878|
|The Duchy of Cornwall owns||28,328 hectares|
|Approximate amount of Duchy of Cornwall |
owned land which is common land
Rights of Way There are over 448 miles (721km) of linear access in the National Park. A number of access agreements have been negotiated and, under the Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985, there is legal public access to all Dartmoor common land. Byelaws exist to regulate this access.
A & B Class Roads
Parts or all of:
|A30||Exeter - Okehampton - Launceston|
|A386||Sourton - Roborough Down - Plymouth|
|A382||Bovey Tracey - Whiddon Down|
|B3212||Moretonhampstead - Yelverton|
|B3357||Tavistock - Dartmeet|
|B3387||Bovey Tracey - Widecombe-in-the-Moor|
Reserves & Protected Areas
National Nature Reserves
|East Dartmoor Woods & Heath|
includes Bovey Valley & Yarner Wood
& Trendlebere Down
|366 hectares||904 acres|
|Dendles Wood||29 hectares||72 acres|
|Black Tor Copse||29 hectares||72 acres|
|Wistman's Wood & Longaford Newtake||170 hectares||420 acres|
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
There are over 40 locations within the Dartmoor National Park covering 26,169 hectares (64,664 acres). The two main sites of North Dartmoor and South Dartmoor total over 20,000 hectares (49,420 acres).
Devon Wildlife Trust Reserves
|Dart Valley||290 hectares||717 acres|
|Lady’s Wood||3 hectares||7 acres|
|Dunsford Wood||57 hectares||141 acres|
|Mill Bottom||6 hectares||15 acres|
|Blackadon||37 hectares||91 acres|
|Lower East Lounston||2.5 hectares||6 acres|
|National Trust Areas|
|Holne Woods||69 hectares||170 acres|
|Lydford Gorge||48 hectares||119 acres|
|Plym Estate||237 hectares||586 acres|
|Teign Valley||165 hectares||408 acres|
|Trowlesworthy Warren||1,349 hectares||3,333 acres|
|Hembury||163 hectares||403 acres|
|Castle Drogo||308 hectares||761 acres|
|Milfordleigh||7 hectares||17 acres|
|Wheal Betsy||1 hectare||2 acres|
|Woodcock Wood||8 hectares||20 acres|
Ministry of Defence trains on 12,906 hectares (31,891 acres) made up of freehold, leasehold and licensed areas. Of this total 10,871 hectares (26,862 acres) is used for live firing purposes.
South West Water owns 4,421 hectares (10924 acres) of land including 8 reservoirs.
Forestry Commission owns 1,359 hectares (3,358 acres) of land leasehold, plus 381 hectares (941 acres) freehold.
Duchy of Cornwall owns 28,328 hectares (70,000 acres).
Dartmoor National Park Authority Apart from a variety of small sites (mainly car parks) the National Park Authority owns 1,451 ha (3,587 acres) including:
|Holne Moor & Woods||783 hectares||1,935 acres|
|Haytor||421 hectares||1,040 acres|
|Wray Cleave||31 hectares||77 acres|
|Sanduck Wood||12 hectares||30 acres|
|Casely Wood||8 hectares||20 acres|
|Dendles Waste||80 hectares||198 acres|
|Whiddon Scrubbs||8 hectares||20 acres|
|Blackingstone Rock||5 hectares||12 acres|
|Plasterdown||93 hectares||230 acres|
|Trendlebere||10 hectares||25 acres|
Dartmoor’s landscape is of great archaeological importance, with over 10,000 entries on the County Sites and Monuments Register. There are over 1,000 Scheduled Ancient Monuments and this figure rises each year. There are also over 2,500 buildings which are Listed because of their architectural or historic interest.
CASTLE DROGO - owned by the National Trust, approx. 105,000 visitors per annum.
National Park Administration
1951, 4th National Park to be designated in England and Wales.
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949
Countryside Act, 1968
Town & Country Planning Act, 1971
Local Government Act, 1972
Local Government Act, 1980
Wildlife & Countryside Act, 1981
Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985
The Town & Country Planning General Development Order, 1988
Dartmoor National Park (Designation) Variation Order, 1990
Environment Act, 1995
The Environment Act, 1995 established a new free-standing Authority for Dartmoor which took over the administration and management of the National Park on 1 April 1997. For 45 years previously, Devon County Council had administered these functions.
The National Park Authority comprises 26 members. Seven members are appointed by Devon County Council, seven by the District Councils (three from West Devon Borough Council, three from Teignbridge District Council and one from South Hams District Council). Twelve members are Government appointees, five of whom represent parish council interests. The other seven Government appointees are persons, usually local, with specialist knowledge of, or a particular interest in, the National Park. They are appointed for a three year period and help provide the balance of local and national interests that is essential to the management of a National Park.
There are about 85 permanent staff and other temporary and part-time staff are employed. The main areas of work are: Planning; Information; Education; Interpretation; Conservation; Recreation Management; Rangers; Ground Services and Administration.
Information Services: 4 National Park Information Centres; 12 Village Information Points; 4 Community Information Points and several other Centres supported by the National Park Authority.
Information enquiries by telephone to: (01822) 890414.
Guided Walks Under the direction of knowledgeable guides, walks of various lengths are held throughout the year. Details of the programme are published in The Dartmoor Visitor.
The Dartmoor Visitor Free information newspaper, published bi-annually. Suitable for visitors and local people.
Education Services Provide information and trips for schools and individual learners. A variety of publications are available.
Finance 2004/ 2005
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is undertaking a three year trial in which they provide 100% of National Park’s funding. In the past Defra provided 75% of National Park funds direct with a further 25% being given to local authorities (District and County Councils) to pass on to their National Parks.
|Budget Management Fund from resources||195,460|
How do we spend the money?
- Dartmoor National Park Management Plan 2001
This publication may be photocopied for educational purposes under the Copyright Act 1988.
© Dartmoor National Park Authority 2004