Wild Camping in Dartmoor National Park
There are a few bank holidays coming up and you might be wondering what to do. Last summer me and my boyfriend had the same dilemma. As we started planning our mini break quite last minute we quickly realized that most places filled up already. It seemed impossible to book B&Bs and it made me think back of our day trip to the Seven Sisters during the Easter holidays. It was really nice, but the bus was packed and super late due to the big traffic and the paths were filled with tourists as well.
Soon we came up with the perfect idea. A place which was stunning, peaceful and quiet and didn’t require much planning ahead. We decided to go wild camping to Dartmoor.
I love hiking and camping, but have never done wild camping in my life, so this was slightly new territory for me. I was mostly worried if I will be able to carry my heavy backpack and if we will be able to find water to drink. You will probably laugh at me, but I only just learned what are the straps for on my backpack. Great hiking tip: always fasten your hip belt and adjust your shoulder straps, this way the bag’s weight rests on your hips. Even though the weather wasn’t always on our side we had a nice long weekend.
It is legal to wild camp in most places in Dartmoor. HERE is a map of the places where you are welcome to pitch up a tent.
The military occasionally has firing days in Dartmoor. You need to check this HERE before your visit and make sure you stay away from that area.
In addition, it is advised to book your train ticket ahead especially if you are going during bank holiday. If you are 16-25 you can get a Rail card and save a lot on your rail journeys.
Check the weather forecast and make sure you have warm, waterproof clothing.
How to get to Dartmoor:
We took the train from London Paddington to Ivybridge. The journey takes 3-4 hours depending on your connections. The entrance to the National Park is only a short walk away from Ivybridge station, so you don’t need a car. It’s a good place to explore the south part of Dartmoor.
What to take with you:
As we wild camped for 3 days we didn’t see any shops or civilization, so taking enough food was essential. I find Wayfayrer camping food great. You can eat it warm or cold and it’s really tasty. Mountain House also has a good selection. This is freeze dry food, hence lighter, but it needs some water to prepare.
-Waterproof jacket and trousers
We were very unlucky with the weather on our second day. It was raining the whole time. Having waterproof equipment makes your time less miserable.
–Hiking boots preferably waterproof
-First aid kit
-Portable phone charger
-Water filter (We used one from Sawyer)
You won’t be able to carry water for multiple days. You will need to make sure to find a stream, pond or lake and filter the water before you drink it.
–Jet boil or cooking stove
-Gas for cooking
-Toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizers, tissues, deodorant
-Socks, underpants (Smartwool or Icebreaker are great brands)
This is to store your rubbish until you find a bin to chuck it.
Hiking in Dartmoor:
We covered 9 miles on our first day. We had nice weather mostly. A little bit misty at times. We headed north from the train station. Despite being a bank holiday we didn’t see many people. When it started to get dark, we pitched up the tent at a location we liked. We enjoyed a lovely chille concarne from Wayfarer then had a good night sleep.
Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky with the weather this day. It was raining most of the time. We still set off to start our way back towards the train station. We walked for 6 miles, then pitched the tent at a tor early afternoon. As we had waterproof rain coat, trousers and cover for our bag we managed to stay mostly dry. However, our socks were soaked and it was an unpleasant feeling. This was the time we decided to acquire some waterproof boots. We spent the afternoon in the tent chatting and playing card games, had Wayfarer Lancashire Hot Pot for dinner and tried their Wayfayrer Chocolate Pudding for dessert to cheer us up.
We woke up to a lovely sunny day. We only had to cover about 4 miles to get back to the train station. We found a shop in town, where we got some sandwiches for lunch and then went back to the entrance of the National Park and enjoyed our meal in the sun overlooking sheep and green meadows. Great finish for our adventure.
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