Planning a sports event
We hope organisers of large events will safeguard the special qualities and tranquillity of the National Park and consider using local services and suppliers as much as possible, to minimise the impact of recreation on the environment and local communities.
Timing of events
The moorland lambing and main bird breeding season is 1 March to 31 July - this is when animals and ground nesting birds are most prone to disturbance. During this season we will not normally support events involving more than 50 people on foot or 30 horses or cyclists unless confined to tracks with dogs on leads.
We will not normally support events on Bank Holiday weekends to avoid congestion and conflict with other users.
Most land in the National Park is privately owned and in most cases permission must be obtained from the landowner before an event takes place.
Much of the high moorland within the National Park is registered common land, over which many local farmers have rights, particularly for grazing, and these interests must be respected. The Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 gives a legal right of access to the commons on foot or on horseback but these rights do not extend to organised events on the commons.
A set of Byelaws relating to the Dartmoor Commons has been approved by the Home Office to regulate access. Of particular relevance is the need to get authorisation from the National Park Authority for any entertainment or commercial activity carried out on the commons or other access land. Other regulated activities include parking, camping, lighting fires, dog walking and anything deemed to cause erosion or damage to the land.
Common Land and land designated as open country under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 is shown with a yellow wash on Outdoor Leisure 28, the Ordnance Survey Explorer Map for Dartmoor.
Some of the places where you might want to hold your event within the National Park have conservation designations, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). Where events are taking place on sites designated as SSSI, then prior approval will also be required from Natural England.
Dartmoor is also rich in archaeological remains and care must be taken not to damage the large number of historical and archaeological sites within the National Park.
The open moorland provides a breeding area for ground nesting birds, but if they get disturbed they can abandon their nests or young. Make sure you know where the rare bird nesting areas are and plan your route to avoid them from 1 March – 31 July.
Maps of bird nesting areas can be found here.
Route planning and the locations of checkpoints need to be carefully considered. Your event could have an impact on the environment if:
- The event could cause disturbance to protected or sensitive species, in particular during the breeding season
- Numbers involved are likely to cause damage to vegetation have suffered, or are likely to suffer from the cumulative impacts of events and need time to recover.
Some of the paths and public rights of way within the National Park are heavily used and suffer from erosion. Please take a look at the erosion map and when planning your route avoid areas that are suffering from erosion. Large numbers of people passing over already damaged sites will increase the damage. View a map of the sites.
Other points to note
- Ensure that all participants adhere to the Dartmoor Commons byelaws throughout the event.
- Fires can be as devastating to wildlife and habitats as they are to people and property. Prevent uncontrolled moorland fires. Moorland vegetation can be dry at any time of the year.
- Ensure that traffic control, and emergency and rescue arrangements are finalised with the police, the Dartmoor Rescue Group and the Dartmoor National Park Authority
- Ensure adequate insurance cover is in place and risk assessments have been undertaken
- Vehicular access to off-road checkpoints is prohibited unless authorised in writing by the landowner
- Ensure that any refreshments provided are available to participants only. Do try to encourage use of local services.