Safety for the Walker
Safety advice for walking on Dartmoor
Before you go
- Check the weather for Dartmoor National Park here (external website, opens in new window)
- Check the firing times (external website, opens in new window) 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. Such areas may be impassable, especially during winter months. Dartmoor’s rivers rise very rapidly after heavy rain and can be dangerous to cross. When planning your route, take into account that river crossings may not be possible
- In winter, plan your walk 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 a walk 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
- Comfortable clothing - you may need more layers when resting. Several thin layers are best as this provides better insulation and can be adjusted to suit the terrain and changeable weather conditions
- Waterproof coat and over trousers, hat and gloves
- Proper footwear is essential to cope with the Dartmoor terrain, so wear walking boots, not trainers as they do not support your ankle and may cause you to slip
- Comfortable rucksack
- Map and compass
- Food, water and a warm drink
- Additional high energy snacks and emergency rations
- Large survival bag
- whistle and a torch
- First aid kit
- Additional warm clothing for winter walks
On the ground
- Mist is a frequent hazard on Dartmoor. When walking, 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 Danger Area. Report the location of anything suspicious to the Police
- Keep away from all moorland livestock which can be unpredictable in their behaviour. If you have a dog with you, keep it under close control and on a lead near livestock. If cattle appraoch you, then let your dog go.
- If in doubt about crossing a river find a bridge or crossing point, or go upstream to a position where the river is easier to cross, or walk down off the moor
- Heed all signs, e.g. advice to avoid hazards and sensitive habitats.
- Litter is not only unsightly - it can cause fires and may injure people, livestock and wildlife. Please take your litter home or dispose of responsibly
The stock and wild animals on Dartmoor do carry ticks and there is a chance you will 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.