Famed for its wide open spaces, impressive tors, wooded valleys and wildlife, Dartmoor is a popular destination for visitors.
Dartmoor has a rich cultural heritage reflected in the wealth of legends, oral history and folk music associated with it, plus there are plenty of historic castles and towns to explore. The area has also inspired artists and writers over the years. The park covers 368 square miles and is the largest, wildest area of open space in southern England. It became a national park in 1951.
Facts about Dartmoor National Park
- About 33,400 people live in the national park. Ashburton is the largest town. The market town of Okehampton, on the edge of the park, was recorded in AD 980 as a place where slaves were freed at a crossroads so they could choose their own path.
- ‘Widecombe Fair’, one of the best known folk songs in England, is about Widecombe in Dartmoor. The song is about going to the annual fair and features the characters of Tom Pearce, his grey mare and old uncle Tom Cobbley.
- Many areas are associated with ghostly tales. The spirits of legionnaires have apparently been spotted at the old Roman hill fort on Hunter’s Tor above Lustleigh Cleave. There are also tales of a Tudor hunting party being seen in the area.
- The national park has thousands of archaeological sites — more than anywhere else in north western Europe. They range from burial chambers to stone circles.
- Some areas of Dartmoor are used for military training. When live firing is not taking place the public can access these areas even if other forms of training are going on. Keep an eye out for warning posts and signals and do not touch any military debris. Details of firing programmes can be obtained by contacting freephone tel. 0800 458 4868 or visiting www.dartmoor-ranges.co.uk