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Caring for Dartmoor in a few easy steps

National Parks are very special places. They are designated for their outstanding natural beauty, wildlife, cultural heritage and the opportunities they offer for enjoyment.

Dartmoor became a National Park in 1951. In many places it looks wild and rugged but in reality such areas are extremely fragile. Every year, more and more people choose to visit and explore Dartmoor which puts ever-increasing pressure upon the landscape

Erosion and general 'over use', particularly at peak holiday periods, can damage the very fabric of the moor, its plants, its wildlife and its archaeology. Furthermore, it can impact upon the people who live and work within the National Park boundary.

The Moor Care campaign explains how we can all help to conserve and protect Dartmoor whilst enjoying its unique environment not just for our benefit but also for future generations.

Together we can make a real difference.

Use the links below to read more on how you can care for Dartmoor.

Travel with Moor Care


A 40mph speed limit sign

Speed kills

Country roads have special dangers. Dartmoor's winding, narrow and undulating roads demand special care.

  • Always drive according to the road conditions.
  • Think ahead and be aware of what's around you, as well as in front and behind.
  • Observe the speed limits. They are imposed for safety - yours and all other road users.

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Roads aren't just for cars…

Farming and recreation are important on Dartmoor, so always expect the unexpected and watch out for:

  • grazing livestock near the side of the moorland roads;
  • livestock resting, particularly at night, on the roads;
  • slow moving agricultural vehicles;
  • cyclists, sometimes two abreast or hidden round a bend;
  • young, nervous or inexperienced horses and their riders;
  • walkers, often with children;
  • wildlife, such as foxes and badgers, especially at night.

Discover more about Travel within Dartmoor National Park.

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Enjoy your journey...

More and more people are discovering that visiting Dartmoor by bus or train is a realistic and enjoyable option with far better views than in the car.

Next time you come, consider using a bus.

For up-to-date information phone traveline on 0870 608 2 608 or visit the DevonBus website on www.devon-cc.gov.uk/devonbus.(external site, opens new window)

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When you are on Dartmoor

Think about your impact

The concentration of people and activity on Dartmoor can cause erosion damage - muddy paths, crumbling riverbanks, rutted tracks and tumbling walls. The following simple guidelines will help to reduce damage:

Keep to the path

The creation of wide and multiple tracks not only spoils Dartmoor's beautiful landscape but also damages precious vegetation and natural habitats.

  • If you are following the line of a path keep to it.
  • If you are on an eroded path avoid widening it. Walk in single file if necessary

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Always use gates and stiles

Stone walls are an essential part of the Dartmoor landscape… but they are easily knocked down. Apart from their historic importance, they also provide essential security and shelter for ponies, sheep, cattle and a wealth of wildlife.

  • Avoid climbing over stone walls which are costly and time consuming to repair - always use gates and stiles

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At risk zones

From time to time, Dartmoor National Park Authority may introduce special At Risk Zones to help conserve the moor.

At Risk Zones are areas where erosion damage is already established and without remedial action they may be permanently damaged. Certain areas of the high moorland are particularly at risk during periods of prolonged wet weather as the peat soil holds water like a sponge, is easily damaged and is therefore very difficult to repair.

  • Please avoid using At Risk Zones when they are identified and co-operate with any special guidelines as and when they are announced or publicised

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Ban the dam

Building a dam on a fast flowing river or a gentle stream might seem like fun. In fact, dams can cause irreparable damage.

  • Damming rivers is illegal
  • The Environment Agency cleared away over 60 dams last year.
  • Erosion is caused by the stones being removed from the riverbank
  • Silt builds up behind the dam resulting in a loss of fish spawning grounds
  • Fish get trapped in the pools and become easy targets for predators
  • Returning salmon and sea trout cannot get back to their spawning grounds

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Be Moor careful

Fires and barbecues

Moorland vegetation can be tinder dry at any time of the year. Uncontrolled fires kill animals and birds and destroy natural habitats and plants which may take years to recover.

  • Be extra careful with cigarettes, matches and other flammable objects.
  • Keep portable barbecues off the ground on a flat boulder or stones so that they do not burn the vegetation and create deep, eroded pits which are both expensive and time consuming to repair

Don't disturb rocks and stones

There are over 10,000 archaeological features on Dartmoor which also provide valuable, natural habitats for a host of wildlife.

Don't move stones, rocks and boulders… you may unwittly be damaging an archaeological treasure.

Find out more about the fascinating world of archaeology. The more you know, the less likely you are to cause damage. A leaflet is available from our Information Centres

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Help protect Dartmoor ponies

  • Please do not feed the ponies; the food we eat is not their natural diet and it will attract them to the roadside where they might be killed or injured.
  • Keep well away: Dartmoor ponies are untamed, they can be unpredictable and may bite or kick.
  • Take your litter home; It can cause terrible suffering when swallowed by ponies or other animals
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Find out Moor

When on Dartmoor a visit to one of our Information Centres is well worth the time. With friendly staff and a wealth of information available you can make the most of your stay or pick up information to help plan your next visit

Before you travel

Think ahead

To get the best out of your visit to Dartmoor, whatever activity you have in mind, it is well worth planning ahead.

  • Think about how you will travel. Consider planning a carefree day out by using the expanding public transport network.
  • If buses or trains are out of the question, then you can still travel wisely by car sharing with family or friends. Don't bring two or three cars onto Dartmoor when one might be enough.
  • Always follow the guidelines for your particular activity. Useful leaflets are available for walking, climbing, camping and backpacking, cycling, canoeing, letterboxing, horse riding and organising events.
  • All of the above information is readily available from our Information Centres or by telephoning 01822 890414.
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And in wet weather

Moorland paths and verges are much more susceptible to damage in wet weather and when the ground is waterlogged.

  • Don't park on grass verges or fragile moorland - pick a starting point with a hard-surfaced car park.
  • Plan routes using firm tracks whenever possible, maybe on the fringe of Dartmoor, or choose more sheltered forest or woodland walks on wetter days.
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When you get home

Keep learning

If you didn't have time to call in at one of our Information Centres to pick up the information you were looking for, you can explore our website or call us on 01822 890414 and we will be pleased to help you.

  • Read more about the places you have visited and where you might like to go next time.
  • Learn to identify archaeology and wildlife. Then you can appreciate how unique and internationally important Dartmoor really is.
  • Study the free Dartmoor Public Transport Guide to find out how you can reach your favourite places. If you haven't got a copy, ring traveline on 0870 608 2 608 or visit the DevonBus website at www.devon-cc.gov.uk/devonbus(external site, opens new window).

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Join Ranger Ralph's Club

Visit the Fun Zone of this website.

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Spread the word

We hope you have enjoyed your visit to Dartmoor and thank you for taking Moor Care.

Please help to spread the word, by telling your friends about Moor Care and how they can help too.By taking Moor Care you have helped ensure that Dartmoor remains a beautiful, special and enchanting place to visit… now and for the future.

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Page last updated: 18 Mar 2013
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