What’s so special about running and walking in Dartmoor National Park?
Dartmoor must surely have some of the best upland trail running terrain in the UK. Certainly at 368 square kilometres, it is the largest in the south of England and on a good day you can look northwards, towards its sister national park on Exmoor.
Dartmoor’s ancient undulating wide open spaces and generous soft turf, lends itself as a navigational playground and running hinterland for people starting out in off road running, as well as walking or mountain biking. If you have been plagued by injury or your bones need a break from pavement bashing, this terrain will offer you a huge respite, for which your joints and bones will thank you! If you want to improve your navigation for running or walking or you are just breaking in to fell or mountain running, it is ideal. Even if you are a more advanced runner, preparing for an ultra or multi day event, our guides, who have spent years running over the moor, have the pedigree and experience to assist you.
Its moorland, blanket bogs and granite tors of quartz and feldspar perched on top of rocky outcrops, are contoured by redundant tramlines leading to quarries. Signposted by leats, which snake between peat corridors and river sources overlooked by standing stones standing sentry to the passage of time. The horizon is broken by river valleys, boulder strewn with ancient woodlands. By these features, even on a foggy day, visitors can navigate their way to familiar paths.
This area, once one of the most densely populated areas of northern Europe, has left us an unforgettable legacy of stone circles, stone rows and megaliths, which our guides can try to interpret for you!
When are the best times to visit Dartmoor:
We think you can visit Dartmoor in any season, as there is always something unique to take away, whether it is the mysterious gothic outline of the tors in early winter or the late blooming gorse in mid summer.
For wildlife Mid-April to mid June when the trees are in leaf and the birds are in full song. Dartmoor is still a place where you can see the very rare red tailed shrike, hear the cuckoo in late spring and even the occasional peregrine falcon have even been spotted here.
From late June through to July the heather and western gorse is flowering and many moorland birds are still active. Autumn (September/October) can also be an attractive time to visit if the weather is fine.
Times to avoid Dartmoor:
The Ten Tors Expedition usually takes place on the second weekend in May, which means certain places on Dartmoor will be more populated but is no reason to stay away. It will be harder to book a bunkhouse or B&B on Dartmoor over a bank holiday weekend but there is more than enough to go round. Very few landlords and owners raise their prices on Bank Holidays here, unlike other national parks around the UK.
When the MOD owned parts of Dartmoor (defined by red and white poles and identified by a red flying flag) are being used for firing practice. This mainly affects the western and northern side of Dartmoor and our guides are expert at negotiating through this particular obstacle! August can be quite busy on the roads and villages, but few trails become crowded.
Dartmoor may have a large population of ticks which can carry Lyme Disease but incidents are rare. We would recommend anyone running or walking on Dartmoor to carry tick removers and check themselves carefully at the end of the day. Our guides always carry tick removers!
Atlantic storms coming in from the west, can bring heavy rain, low cloud, mist and fog. So come prepared. Dartmoor rivers can rise and fall very rapidly, especially when the blanket bog is saturated.
Wild Running offers year round guided running opportunities on Dartmoor, as well as navigation courses and running camos for adults and junior, for individuals and groups. We also offer guided Dartmoor and Two Moors Way crossings by night and day at reasonable notice. Next September we will be hosting the first bespoke Two Moors Way Ultra.