Dartmoor Rambles


Devon, UK

Distance / Elevation

128 KM / 2,135 M


Road, Singletrack


3 Days

We left reluctantly with hopes of finding a camp spot in time for the sunset. Our wet hair dried fast as we hiked our bikes out of the steep valley along some footpaths.

Our trip down to Dartmoor started with us rushing to the train after work in late August. By the time our train arrived in Exeter the sun was setting. We had little idea of what to expect and only a vague idea of where we would camp that night. We ended up spending a couple hours climbing hills taking a small break to eat our pesto pasta dinner in the dark on the side of a road. Once we entered the official park Geoff’s time studying maps and his experience that old quarries make for relatively good camping paid off. We took a short bridleway to a flat grassy patch where we pitched our tent just past midnight.

I woke up to find Geoff already exploring the area and taking in the foggy views of nearby farms. After breakfast we followed a bridleway running parallel to the main road to Haytor Rocks which was already packed with tourists. It was surprising to have such a quiet night sleep only a few minutes for a very popular tourist spot. We took a long break to have a second breakfast, fill up our water bottles and take in the views of the popular tor.

After finding out there were next to no grocery options in the park, we shifted our route for the day to include a grocery stock up in Ashburton.  It was a great route back out of the park, on fast winding roads overlooking the tors before descending into the Ashburton valley. There wasn’t a huge range of groceries in Ashburton but we got what we needed for snacks and dinner. Best of all we found an amazing restaurant called Rafikis where we had lunch on their sunny patio.

Deciding we needed to find a spot to swim, we headed out of town along some steep lanes to a popular area on the Dart River. We walked along the river bank to find our own little spot to relax and cool off.  The area we found wasn’t very deep but so refreshing after a few sweaty hike-a-bikes and we were so excited to swim. We haven’t been able to find clean water to swim near our home in Bath, so after a year in the UK, this was our first time going for a swim.

We left reluctantly with hopes of finding a camp spot in time for the sunset. Our wet hair dried fast as we hiked our bikes out of the steep valley along some footpaths. 

Right at dusk we found a flat-ish, and mostly poop free spot at the highest part of the moor overlooking the Avon Dam Reservoir.  We spent the evening cooking pasta and discussing what the next day would have in store. We fortunately had the moor to ourselves apart from getting a little startled by someone on a quad racing around.

For probably too long in the morning we were running around taking photos of the fog rolling out of the valley below and of course drinking lots of coffee. In the late morning we packed up and headed toward Totnes, stopping often to photograph the rivers and villages we passed.

After lunch and a wander around Totnes we set off toward Exeter (promising each other we would return soon) to catch our train home. The first part of the journey between Totnes and Starcross continued the theme of the trip with steep narrow lanes with an added touch of beautiful forests. From Starcross to Exeter we followed a flat separated trail along the inlet. It was an uneventful section besides a quick stop at the Turf Pub, where the groups of people lazing in the sun with pints looked too good to resist. Arriving in Exeter we took a quick look around and grabbed a pizza for the train…which was eaten in our 5 minute wait for the train.

Nearly every spot we saw of Dartmoor had us wanting to stay longer. It was a quick taster of what we could explore there. I’m excited to head back when the weather gets brighter again.

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