Dartmoor National park - Devon, Devon Online
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Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor is a stunningly beautiful area of moorland accented with wooded valleys and wind swept Tors (the old celtic word for "tower"). A wide-open expanse covering 369 square miles (953 sq. km.), the area features some of the wildest and bleakest country in England. The setting for the Sherlock Holmes' novel 'The Hound of the Baskervilles,' based upon a local legend, this isolated landscape with weather conditions (mist, rain and snow) that can change in minutes, creates a truly natural spectacle - 'nature' at its best.

Dartmoor is wonderful hiking country, and can become very busy on the most popular routes during the summer months. The vagaries of the local weather, particularly the mist which can descend without warning mean that whenever you venture away from the roads that traverse the moor it is essential that you have a good map, appropriate clothing, compass and whistle.

Dartmoor was designated as one of the National Parks of England and Wales in 1951. The National Park is named after the River Dart, whose source rises on the moor, with the West and East Dart rivers merging to form the River Dart at Dartmeet.

Prehistoric remains are found all over the moor, though exact dates of many of them are often in dispute. Any walk across the moor is likely to lead you to the remains of old stone buildings from Dartmoor's industrial past. Ancient clapper bridges - crossing streams and rivers, stone crosses; barrows, standing stones, circles, tumuli and cairns all contribute to the wealth features to be enjoyed on Dartmoor

Though the majority of the Dartmoor National Park lies over a granite plateau - 600m above sea level, rising to a height of 621m (High Willhays), the park also includes the some of the beautiful surrounding Devon countryside. Rich fertile lands to the north and south of the moor, known as the "Hams", have been formed over older marine sediments and volcanic rocks from the Devonian and Carboniferous age; contrasting sharply with stark landscape of the upland granites.

There are many attractions to visit in the Park. English Heritage and the National Trust have manyl properties throughout the area, including the Finch Foundry, Castle Drogo and the dramatic Lydford Gorge.

At Princetown, in the very centre of the moor, you will find Dartmoor's most famous (infamous) building - the grim edifice of Dartmoor Prison. Princetown is also the home of the Dartmoor National Park High Moorland Visitor Centre. The Centre has a wealth of lively displays and information.

Dartmoor Country - Safety Code
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