This region is as rich in myth and legend as anywhere else in Britain. Crisscrossed with about 805km (500 miles) of bridle paths and hiking trails and covering about 932 sq. km (360 sq. miles) -- 466 sq. km (180 sq. miles) of which comprise Dartmoor National Park -- the moors rest on a granite base with numerous rocky outcroppings.
The Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) runs guided walks of varying difficulty, ranging from 1 1/2 to 6 hours for a trek of some 14 to 19km (9-12 miles). All you have to do is turn up suitably clad at your selected starting point. The country is rough, and on the high moor you should always make sure you have good maps, a compass, and suitable clothing and shoes. Details are available from DNPA information centers or from the DNPA headquarters (tel. 01822/890414; www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk), High Moorland Visitor Centre, Tavistock Road, Princetown (near Yelverton) PL20 6QF. Information centers are open daily Easter through October 10am to 5pm; most (including the High Moorland Visitor Centre) are open daily off-season 10am to 4pm. Guided tours cost £3 for a 2-hour walk, £5 for a 3-hour walk, £6.50 for a 4-hour walk, and £8 for a 6-hour walk. These prices are subsidized by the national park services.
Throughout the area are stables where you can arrange for a day's trek across the moors. For horseback riding in Dartmoor, there are too many establishments to list. All are licensed, and you are accompanied by an experienced rider/guide. The moor can be dangerous because sudden fogs descend on the treacherous marshlands without warning. Prices are around £20 per hour. Most riding stables are listed in a useful free publication, The Dartmoor Visitor, which also provides details on guided walks, places to go, accommodations, local events, and articles about the national park. The Dartmoor Visitor is obtainable from DNPA information centers and tourist information centers or by mail. Send an International Reply Coupon to the DNPA headquarters.
Some of the best Dartmoor riding is provided by Skaigh Stables at Belstone (tel. 01837/840917; www.skaighstables.co.uk), 1.6km (1 mile) from the A30 Exeter-Okehampton road. Rides go over dramatic moorland in England's largest wilderness. Morning or afternoon rides are offered from mid-April until the end of September, with 2-hour rides beginning at £32 per person. We're also fond of the Doone Valley Stables, Oare, Lynton (tel. 01598/741234; www.doonevalleytrekking.co.uk), set in the heart of the beautiful Doone Valley and offering escorted rides, especially picnic rides.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.