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Best campsites in Dartmoor National Park

Here are our expert-recommended campsites and attractions in and around the Dartmoor National Park.

From the stunning Meldon Viaduct to Lydford Gorge, the scenery in and around Dartmoor National Park is a lot more moor than just heathland and tors. Of course, the iconic uplands are home to the unique Dartmoor ponies and the area is rich in dramatic scenery, but spend a little more time here, and you'll realise there is a whole load more to discover in Dartmoor.

Think of Dartmoor, and you surely think of ponies and the dramatic moorland tors. There are over 160 granite outcrops atop the moors; their formation started around 280 million years ago. It's certainly not been an overnight process and happened in 5 major phases, the last of which was relatively recent at only 2 million to 10,000 years ago. If you want to explore the full process, you can find out more from the Dartmoor National Park website.

The eponymous Dartmoor ponies have roamed these uplands since prehistoric times and play an important part in maintaining the national park's ecosystem. Ponies are brought in every autumn in the annual pony 'drifts'. The 'pure' Dartmoor is a single colour, whilst the multi-colour ponies have been bred for work as pit ponies, for delivering the post or even helping shepherds.

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Dartmoor is slightly different to the other national parks, in so much as a large proportion of the land has been designated as 'Access Land.' This essentially gives unrestricted access to walkers, though with over 450 miles of public footpath available, it's unlikely you'll need to venture off the beaten path and onto one of the three areas used by the Ministry of Defence for training. The situation around wild camping in the park is changing and more details can be found on our wild camping hub.

Top Dartmoor Attractions

The Tors and Moorland

Tors of Dartmoor
Tors of Dartmoor

Steeped in history and legend, the whole of Dartmoor is found atop the largest area of granite in Britain. Much of the rock is covered by a layer of peat bog, and where the underlying granite breaks through to reveal itself as a hilltop, it is known locally as a tor. Given its location in the South-West of England, the moorlands receive a higher volume of rain than the surrounding areas, as such rivers and the associated historical industry have shaped much of the landscape.

Popular with walkers, Brent Tor is probably the most famous view of Dartmoor with its 40ft church tower rising above the national park. Great Staple Tor is popular with photographers, given its stunning location and easy access. Haytor Rocks have the advantage of a visitors centre and spectacular views down to the coast of south Devon.

Of course, we couldn't move on to the next section without mentioning the highest point in the park High Willhays. The origin of the name is contested, with some believing it comes from a corruption of 'High Willows' and others believing the name derived from 'gwylfa', meaning a watching point. Either way, we remember it being called High Willies in our school geography class and being a source of much childish sniggering.

Castles and Abbeys

Castle Drogo
Castle Drogo

According to the National Trust, Castle Drogo is the last castle to be built in England. Following delays due to the first world war, construction was completed in 1930 with the castle being handed over to the National Trust in 1974. The building was designed by Edwin Lutyens, the architect of the Cenotaph.

Managed by English Heritage, Okehampton Castle is the largest castle in Devon. Whilst only ruins remain, the imposing sight of the keep and gatehouse gives an insight into the history of the castle.

Lydford Castle is free to visit and the area comprises Saxon and Norman earthworks along with the tower turned prison. Unusually, the 'motte' or mound of earth surrounding the castle's lowest floor was added after construction had been completed to make it appear more imposing and provide dismal living conditions for the prisoners below ground.

Part of an active Benedictine monastery, Buckfast Abbey is most famous for Buckfast Tonic Wine a caffeinated alcoholic drink which has been produced on-site since the 1890s

Top 10 Dartmoor National Park Campsites

Best Campsites in Dartmoor National Park
River Dart Country Park

River Dart Country Park is an award-winning campsite on the southeastern edge of Dartmoor National Park. With excellent camping facilities and generously-sized pitches, it is...

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Langstone Manor Holiday Park

Situated on the southwest edge of Dartmoor, this holiday park has been developed in the grounds of the old Langstone Manor house. The touring pitches...

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Stover Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

Set in a quiet, simple and spacious location, Stover Caravan and Motorhome Club site lies next to a beautiful country park on the edge of...

Barley Meadow Touring Park

This peaceful little park is located on the northern edge of Dartmoor with easy access from the A30. It is sheltered from the weather by...

Woodland Springs Touring Park

Hidden away in a corner of the Dartmoor National Park, Woodland Springs is a haven of peace and tranquillity. Set in a dip, it is...

Harford Bridge Holiday Park

Harford Bridge has an interesting history – originally the Wheal Union tin mine until 1850, then used as a farm campsite from 1930 and taken...

Tavistock Camping & Caravanning Club Site

Tavistock Camping and Caravanning Club site is situated within the Dartmoor National Park boundaries with fabulous views up to the higher slopes of the moor...

Lydford Caravan & Camping Park

Lydford Caravan and Camping Park is known by its regular visitors for its sense of peace, beauty and tranquillity. It offers a host of stunning...

Dartmoor View Holiday Park

With easy access from the A30 road, this peaceful neat well kept park has matured into a very comfortable place to stay. The site is...

Lemonford Caravan Park

Lemonford is a well run, neat and tidy site for families of all ages. It is some three miles from both Ashburton and Newton Abbot...