Dartmoor National Park Authority

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Contact Us

Education Contact Details

Education Service,
Dartmoor National Park Authority,
Parke, Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot,
Devon TQ13 9JQ
Tel: (01626) 832093


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General Information

Link to the print version of the General Information Factsheet PDF icon (40Kb - PDF Help)

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:

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.Cartoon of the Moor


Highest pt.High Willhays 621m (2,039ft)
 asl SX 579 893
Lowest pt.Doghole Bridge 30m (98ft)
 asl SX 843 817
Land over150m (492ft) - 81% of the
 National Park
Land over300m (984ft) - 51% of the
 National Park
Land over460m (1,509ft)13% of the
 National Park

Principal Rivers & Valleys

AshburnEast WebburnTaw
DartMeavyWest Okement
ErmePlymWest Webburn
East Okement  TavyYealm


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:

TorHeight above sea levelGrid Reference
High Willhays621m (2,039ft)SX 580 892
Yes Tor619m (2,030ft)SX 581 901
Great Links Tor586m (1,924ft)SX 551 867
Fur Tor572m (1,876ft)SX 588 830
Great Mis Tor539m (1,768ft)SX 562 770
Great Staple Tor  455m (1,493ft)SX 542 760
Haytor454m (1,490ft)SX 757 770
Hound Tor448m (1,469ft)SX 743 790
Sharpitor402m (1,320ft)SX 559 703
Sheeps Tor320m (1,050ft)SX 565 683
Vixen Tor320m (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.

RainfallPrincetown - 2150mm (83in) average
RainfallWidecombe-in-the-Moor - 1581mm (61in) average
Snow lieLowland - fewer than 5 days per annum
Snow lieHighland - average 15 - 20 days
Snow lieSummits - average 30 days
Sunshine3-4 hours daily average

Cartoon of Weather on the Moor


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
(119,720 acres)
Farmland33,041 hectares
(81,644 acres)
Forestry/Woodland11,152 hectares
(27,557 acres)
Reservoirs209 hectares
Other (inc villages)2577 hectares
(6368 acres)
Common Landapprox 34,878
(86,186 acres)
The Duchy of Cornwall owns28,328 hectares
(70,000 acres)
Approximate amount of Duchy of Cornwall
owned land which is common land

20,000 hectares

(49,419 acres)



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:

A30Exeter - Okehampton - Launceston
A386Sourton - Roborough Down - Plymouth
A382Bovey Tracey - Whiddon Down
B3212Moretonhampstead - Yelverton
B3357Tavistock - Dartmeet
B3193Teign Valley
B3387Bovey Tracey - Widecombe-in-the-Moor

Reserves & Protected Areas

National Nature Reserves

East Dartmoor Woods & Heath
includes Bovey Valley & Yarner Wood
& Trendlebere Down
366 hectares904 acres
Dendles Wood29 hectares72 acres
Black Tor Copse29 hectares72 acres
Wistman's Wood & Longaford Newtake170 hectares420 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 Valley290 hectares717 acres
Lady’s Wood3 hectares7 acres
Dunsford Wood57 hectares141 acres
Mill Bottom6 hectares15 acres
Blackadon37 hectares91 acres
Lower East Lounston2.5 hectares6 acres

 Land Ownership

National Trust Areas  
Holne Woods69 hectares170 acres
Lydford Gorge48 hectares119 acres
Plym Estate237 hectares586 acres
Teign Valley165 hectares408 acres
Trowlesworthy Warren1,349 hectares3,333 acres
Hembury163 hectares403 acres
Castle Drogo308 hectares761 acres
Milfordleigh7 hectares17 acres
Wheal Betsy1 hectare2 acres
Woodcock Wood8 hectares20 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 & Woods783 hectares1,935 acres
Haytor421 hectares1,040 acres
Wray Cleave31 hectares77 acres
Sanduck Wood12 hectares30 acres
Casely Wood8 hectares20 acres
Dendles Waste80 hectares198 acres
Whiddon Scrubbs8 hectares20 acres
Blackingstone Rock5 hectares12 acres
Plasterdown93 hectares230 acres
Trendlebere10 hectares25 acres

Ancient Monuments

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.

Stately Homes

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.

Principal Legislation

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.

Visitor Services

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.

Defra funding£3,765,325
Gross Income£573,297
Budget Management Fund from resources195,460
Gross Expenditure£4,534,082

How do we spend the money?

Piechart to show breakdown of spending in Dartmoor National Park Authority

Other publications:

This publication may be photocopied for educational purposes under the Copyright Act 1988.

© Dartmoor National Park Authority 2004

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