Safety advice for outdoor activities

Before you go

  • Check the weather for Dartmoor National Park
  • Check the firing times for the Range Danger Areas if walking on north Dartmoor  
  • Plan your route carefully and estimate how long it will take. Remember that much of high Dartmoor is boggy, especially at the heads of rivers and streams.  Dartmoor’s rivers rise very rapidly after heavy rain and can be dangerous to cross, so have an alternative route as back-up.
  • In winter, plan your activity carefully, allowing for the number of daylight hours so that you are off the moors in good time
  • If appropriate, leave details of your route, destination and estimated time of arrival with a responsible person. Don’t forget to report your return.
  • Choose activities suited to your abilities or the ability of group members, which can be changed if the weather worsens.  Allow extra time for rests, stops for food and drink and enjoying the views!
  • Make sure you know how to use a large-scale map and compass - and have both with you
  • Do not rely entirely on a GPS unit 

Clothing and equipment to take with you

  • Wear layers of clothing as these provide better insulation and can be adjusted to suit the terrain and changeable weather conditions
  • Waterproof coat and over trousers, hat and gloves
  • Sturdy walking boots
  • Comfortable rucksack
  • Map and compass
  • Food, water and a warm drink
  • Additional high energy snacks and emergency rations
  • Whistle and a torch
  • First aid kit

On the ground

  • Mist is a frequent hazard on Dartmoor, so know at all times exactly where you are
  • If the weather deteriorates do not hesitate to turn back
  • Use stiles and gates to cross boundaries - do not climb walls or fences
  • Do not pick up any strange or metal objects, especially in, or near, a Range Area. Report the location of anything suspicious to the Police
  • Keep away from all moorland livestock as they can be unpredictable in their behaviour.  If you have a dog with you, keep it under close control and on a lead. If cattle approach you, then let your dog go
  • Please take your litter home with you, or dispose of it responsibly.  

Ticks

The livestock and wild animals on Dartmoor do carry ticks and there is a chance you may pick one up when visiting Dartmoor. To minimize the risk always keep your skin covered (wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirt) when passing through areas of rough vegetation and tuck your trousers into your socks if necessary (or wear gaiters).  

At the end of the day completely check over your body for ticks.  If you should find a tick, remove it as soon as possible as some ticks can carry diseases.  

For more information about ticks and safe tick removal please use one of the links below.

Suspicious objects

Some parts of Dartmoor are used for Military Training . If you come across unexploded ordnance anywhere on the moor, please:

  • leave it alone - do not touch or tamper with any strange or metal object, it may be dangerous
  • mark and note the location and inform either
    • the Commandant (tel: 01837 650010), Okehampton Camp
    • the police
    • report it at a National Park Visitor Centre