Military training on Dartmoor
Dartmoor has been used for military training since the early 1800s. The Dartmoor Training Area comprises of three training ranges on the north moor (Okehampton, Merrivale and Willsworthy and dry training areas on the south moor (Cramber Tor, Ringmoor and Sheeps Tor). Much of the land upon which the MOD trains is privately owned and training is undertaken under license from landowners including the Duchy of Cornwall.
Okehampton, Merrivale and Willsworthy ranges are used for: navigation, survival, military training and practices; for training where only blank ammunition is used; and for tactical training with live ammunition. The boundaries of these range danger areas are marked on the ground by a series of red and white posts with warning notices. The public has access to these moorland areas except when the ranges are in use for live firing.
The two training areas on the south moor (Cramber Tor and Ringmoor) are used for ‘dry training’ – no live ammunition is used, only blank and pyrotechnics, there are no restrictions in terms of public access and the focus is on adventurous and tactical battle training.
Warning signals, red flags by day or red lights by night, are prominent around each Range Danger Area to indicate that live firing is occurring.
A number of lookout posts are also manned when live firing is taking place.
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 Training Safety Officer (tel: 01837 657210), Okehampton Camp or the Police
- report it at a National Park Visitor Centre
Willsworthy Permissive Access Agreement
The Willsworthy Access Agreement 2017 between Dartmoor National Park Authority and the Ministry of Defence, enables permissive access for the public on foot and on horseback for informal recreation.
The National Park purposes and the impact of military activity
The purposes of National Parks as stated in the Environment Act 1995 are: to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage, whilst promoting opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the National Parks’ special qualities to the public.
The Dartmoor Steering Group seeks to find a balance between the national military need and the National Park purposes. The Dartmoor Working Party undertakes the more practical work of dealing with complaints, monitoring the environment and doing conservation works.