Walking on Dartmoor in Devon is the best.
DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK IS BIG taking in a staggering 365 square miles.
It might be a better idea for you to join one of the recommend guided walks. Take a look at the Ramblers Association, a great bunch of keen walkers who welcome visitors to join in. It's never a good plan to just head off to some point in the distance. Large areas of Dartmoor are boggy, there are rivers to cross, some of them fast flowing. When the days shorten and Autumn sets in,daylight fades very quickly. You must know what your limits are and where you are going.
Here's some sensible information.
1. Before you set out, let someone know where you plan to walk on Dartmoor, and if you change your mind en-route, let them know that too. If you don't turn up at the end of the day, people will need to know where to start looking for you. If by any chance you have a mishap, others need to know where you might be and maybe where to search. This is as important for a party of people as for a single walker. Show someone on a map where you are thinking of going. Let him or her know what is the closest village or tor that you are aiming for. It's a good idea to take a mobile phone, but BEWARE - there are large areas of the Dartmoor where you will not get a signal, especially in the lower valleys.
2. Take a Dartmoor map or guide book. The very best Dartmoor map is the Dartmoor OS Explorer (folded) map by OS Explorer folded map, Dartmoor, Devon Ordnance Survey. It is the 21/2 inches to the mile format 1:25,000 scale. Covering the Two Moors Way, The Templar Way, The Tarka Trail, West Devon Way, Dartmoor Way, Two Castles Trail, Taw-Teign Link and the whole of the Moor itself. It clearly shows youth hostels, pubs, rights of way, fences, permissive paths and bridleways. The recommended retail price is £7.99, but Amazon sells it for just £5.99 and also offers some used versions of the map from as low as £2.50 Great Saving! We find that the laminated version which is now called the outstanding All Weather map, is utterly brilliant in any weather. You could even hold it over your head in a sudden downpour. And do take a compass - take a look on youtube to find out how to use it !
3. This row of crocs may look comfy, but what happens when you encounter mud? Wear good walking shoes or wellingtons. And always drop a few plasters into your rucksack. A tiny blister, if caught in time can be eased enormously by applying a plaster to stop further chafing. In Autumn and Winter it is vitally important that you have enough layers, and a waterproof outer layer is a must. A plastic mac although slightly jokey, will be light to carry, and in heavy rain can make all the difference. It will also provide a waterproof place to sit, as unless you find a suitable rock, some resting spots leave you with a damp reminder to take on your way! A hat will either shade you from the sun or keep your head warm which will help maintain your body heat. A silk scarf around the neck can make such a difference, and is almost no weight at all to carry. If a cold Dartmoor wind blows, you will be glad you did and even on warm days they are useful when opening the odd grubby and rusty gate etc. So don't forget to take your gloves.
4. Always take something to eat and drink. Always take enough liquid to ensure that you won't go thirsty. Getting dehydrated can lead to a very poor sense of direction, and worse. Don't be tempted to drink from the streams unless you can boil the water. But you never know, a dead sheep in the water further upstream will infect it. Take sandwiches, fruit and good outdoor food such as flapjack which are easy to pack. Everyone loves a picnic, but make sure that you take every scrap of litter home with you. Animals on
Dartmoor are curious, eating even the smallest piece of plastic can prove fatal to a new lamb.
5. Respect the countryside. Always leave gates how you find them. If shut, leave shut, if open leave open. Despite what you might think, the livestock on Dartmoor belongs to someone. Farmers feed their stock and the worst thing you can do is to feed the ponies your left-overs whilst you are out on your walk. When stupid folk feed ponies from their cars, the ponies naturally associate cars with food which is the cause of many pony deaths.
6. NEVER EVER FEED THE PONIES ON DARTMOOR. It gets them thinking that cars that are friendly boxes that dole out food. This leads to young ponies wandering about on the roads walking towards cars often with dreadful consequences. A dead foal at the side of the road is a very sad sight. Explain to everyone, especially children.
7. Dogs. By all means bring your dog, but be sensible. Dogs should always be kept on a lead near to livestock. If your dog chases sheep or other animal on Dartmoor, then the farmer is perfectly entitled to shoot your dog. It's as simple as that. If you see a dog or dogs chasing sheep, then please report it as soon as you can
to a Dartmoor National Park Ranger. Dartmoor Rangers during office hours contact number is 01626 831006.
Maybe you need a compass ? You don't have to be a skilled orienteer to make use of a compass. It will help you make sense of your map and it could be your best friend on a dull day when the sun doesn't cast a shadow.
Walking, great for the soul, the body and the environment. Not to mention the pocket !!
To ring the Dartmoor Rangers during office hours 01626 831006
No these are not Dartmoor Rangers! They're happy Duke of Edinburgh award participants. Well done girls.