Princetown is 1400 feet above sea level in the centre of Dartmoor National Park. Princetown owes its existence to the vision of one man - Thomas Tyrwhitt.

He was Lord Warden of the Stannaries and Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales. By the end of the 18th century Tyrwhitt had established Tor Royal Farm and a vision to tame and cultivate the open moor, founding a small settlement called Prince’s Town.

Although livestock farming has always been an important part of Dartmoor life, Tyrwhitt’s arable farming dream failed, due largely to the harsh environment, but he came up with other schemes to revitalise this moorland community, including the building of the prison in 1809. It was used to house French, and then American, prisoners of war.

HM Prison Dartmoor is still in use today.

Our National Park Visitor Centre is located in what was the old Duchy Hotel – where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stayed and started writing The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Not far from the Visitor Centre car park is the former Princetown railway line which transported quarried granite to the coast. Today, it makes an excellent route for walking and cycling.  You may pick up the scent of hops as you wander along the track – this is coming from Princetown Brewery – the highest brewery in England.

Princetown's Historic 'Ball and Chain' trail

Discover more abut the local businesses, fascinating history, and unique quirks that make Princetown a special place.

To help people discover more, we've designed a historic walking trail showing where you can find these distinctive features on an easy amble from one end of the village to the other.

To celebrate Princetown's heritage we've affectionately named the new walk the 'Ball and Chain' Historic Trail.

Download a copy of the trail map

Did you know?

In Victorian times, Dartmoor Prison was believed to be the hardest and most severe in England. Visit the Dartmoor Prison Museum to find out more about the notorious past residents including Frank Mitchell & John George Haigh

Best things to see and do

  • Call into our National Park Visitor Centre – displays, films, exhibition and children’s area. Buy a Hound of the Baskervilles walk leaflet or a Walks around Princetown leaflet
  • Visit the Dartmoor Prison Museum
  • Cycle the Granite & Gears cycle trail

Address: Tavistock Road, Princetown, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6QF

What’s nearby?

Burrator Reservoir

A few miles to the south of Princetown on the A386 to Yelverton is Burrator Reservoir. This beauty spot is popular with walkers and cyclists and is very family friendly thanks to some lovely level walks. Visit the Burrator Discovery Centre to learn more about its history.