Information on Dartmoor

Dartmoor - Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team Plymouth

General Information about Dartmoor
Covering an area of 368 square miles (954 square 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.

Highest point: High Willhays 621m (2039ft) SX579893
Lowest point: Doghole Bridge 30m (98ft) SX843817

Principal Rivers and Valleys
Ashburn, Avon, Bovey, Dart, Erme, East Okement, East Webburn, Lemon, Lyd, Meavy, Plym, Tavy, Taw, Teign, Walkham, West Okement, West Webburn and the Yealm.

A large part of Dartmoor (65%) is made up of granite, an igneous rock which was intruded some 295 million years ago.

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.
Princetown 2150mm (83in) average
Widecombe-in-the-Moor 1581mm (61in) average
Snow lie:
Lowland – fewer than 5 days per annum
Highland – average 15-20 days, Summits – average 30 days.
Sunshine: 3-4 hours daily average

Ancient Monuments
Darmoor’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.

Backpackers may  camp on open moor if they follow a few simple rules:-
Don’t camp in enclosed land, or within 100m of a road, out of site of dwellings, not in reservoir catchments, not in ‘recreational’ areas such as Cadover Bridge and Spitchwick. Site camping and caravans on authorized sites ONLY. Take care of yourself on the Moor!

Please visit the Moor, but keep to the rules designed to protect the delicate environment:-
Park in designated places.
DON’T feed the ponies. It attracts them to the roads where they can be injured by traffic.
Follow the guidelines for your activity (available in Park offices).
Stick to paths.
During wet weather try to stay on hard tracks.
Always use stiles and gates to cross walls, DON’T jump over.
In dry weather the Moor can be a tinderbox, be careful with stoves and cigarettes.
Don’t move stones, they are often part of an archaeological feature. See below.
Follow signs around restoration sites.
Follow and keep to the Country Code.
Take your litter home with you! It can be deadly to the animals if left on the moor and in all cases is just plain ignorant.

Please remember:
Always seek permission before entering on to private land.
Avoid undue disturbance to wildlife. Plants and animals may inadvertently be displaced or destroyed by careless actions.
Remember that rock faces, quarry faces and old mine workings may be highly dangerous, always consider your personal safety and the safety of others.
Dartmoor is one of the most important archaeological landscapes in Britain. Each individual feature may hold a vital clue to the past.
Many archaeological sites are protected by law, you may be breaking the law if you disturb them.
Many archaeological features are smaller than you might expect. Some are only a few centimetres high
If you are not sure whether something is an archaeological feature or not, give it the benefit of the doubt and leave well alone
Never disturb an archaeological site or ruined structure by moving stones around.
Never dig in or around an archaeological site. Information buried below ground is as important to the archaeologist as that which can be seen above ground.
Do not camp or light fires in or around archaeological sites.
Do not use archaeological sites to store equipment or as hiding places or as bivouac sites.
Mineshafts and old mine workings can be dangerous
A pile of stones is not just a pile of stones. A moment’s carelessness can destroy thousands of years of history.

WatchOverU – A new service helping to keep you safe. “Someone to watch over you.”
Simple to setup, simple to use. Go to and register as a user of the service. This is a new personal safety service that can help you by automatically contacting your friends or family when things don’t go to plan. It does this without requiring you to have access to a working mobile or other device and because you may be incapacitated it can raise the alarm without any intervention from you.

The Five Top Navigational Errors

These are the top five navigational errors made – guard against them and you have reduced your chances of an accident by almost 25%!
1. Lack of concentration
Clear thinking is critical for accurate navigation. When calculating moves use the Brace Position (kneel) to take you ‘out’ of the group. If navigating in difficult conditions tell the group you are not going to chat and instead concentrate only on navigation.
2. Making the map fit the environment
When you think that you have your position located on the map, choose a feature on your map, predict where you are going to see it and then turn in this direction to see it. If it isn’t there start your relocation procedure.
3. Inaccurate compass bearings
Always have the compass set in front of you and rotate your body, not the compass to your objective. If taking a bearing from a map always use the Brace Position.
4. Compass Deviation
Check wristwatches, karabiners, ice axes, ski and walking poles are all kept clear of your compass – even your jackets zip-pull!
5. Forgetting to correct for Magnetic Declination
Practice this so much that it becomes a conditioned reflex and you no longer have to think about it.

Safety is invariably a matter of common sense; it’s just not often that common.